There’s only one reason for most people to go to Ibusuki: the sandbath – the only natural one in the world. There’s a section of sand along the beach that’s heated by volcanic steam. You can get buried in the hot sand and lie there for as long as you like. It feels about how you’d think, if you’ve ever thought about that. They only recommend staying in for 15 minutes but you can go as many times as you like (as long as you have 900 yen in hand.) I went yesterday evening after dinner and also this morning.

They’ve thought through the details, as usual – you’re lent a yukata (cotton robe) to wear as part of the price, and they take it back and clean it when you’re done. If you go during the day and it’s sunny, they put up a little umbrella over your head for shade. If you bring a camera, the burial ladies will even take your photo and then tie your camera into a plastic bag to keep it clean and dry! All in all, a great experience for someone who likes hotsprings. As it turns out, I do. And I now know how a baked potato feels.

Me in sandbath

I stayed at the Minshuku Marutomi (Maritime Inn.) It’s a small, 7 room place about 50m from the sandbath known for its excellent seafood dinners (included in the price, which is fairly cheap even.) The woman working there (probably the owner’s wife) spoke about as much English as I speak Japanese but we managed to communicate well enough anyway and she made me feel welcome. There were 3 other Japanese guys about my age staying there, and nobody else.

I’m now back on the train, heading even further down the line to Kaimon, where there’s a mountain I want to climb.

Originally written January 26, 2010