Coming in at the upper end of any must-see-must-do Japan travel bucket list is the act of visiting an onsen. With so many options to choose from, finding the right hot spring should be an easy task, but it isn’t. That endless list can actually be quite daunting for first time onsen bathers, and can even put people off entirely if it means spending hours researching which waters to dip your feet into first.
That’s why Hakone’s Kowakien Yunessun Resort is perfect for beginners. An onsen theme park, Yunessun is foreigner friendly, easily reachable from Tokyo and has 23 unique hot spring baths to relax in.
Perhaps the most appealing part of the resort are the unique drink-themed baths (for soaking, not drinking); you can soak in coffee, wine, green tea and even Japanese sake!

It’s been 20 years since the theme park first opened its doors to the public, and although you might be tempted to visit, be warned, there are rumours that it has recently become a hotspot for Yokai hauntings.
If you are brave enough, watch out for Kappa, Yuki-onna and other Japanese monsters, which have apparently been spotted bathing in the waters.

The ‘haunting’ of Yunessun is actually a collaboration between the theme park and the 2021 movie The Great Yokai War: Guardians. The event, which has been named ‘Yokai Haunted Bath House’, features yokai themed baths, a collection of collaboration foods and drinks from the restaurant as well as sales of limited time original goods.

Yunessun Coffee Bath becomes ‘Blood Pond Hell Bath’

Would you dare to step inside the Blood Pond Hell Bath?
Supposedly this is the location of the global yokai conference known as ‘Yamit’, where monsters from all over the world gather to discuss various ways of interacting with humans as well as the future for the ‘monster world’.

Yunessun Green Tea Bath becomes ‘Kappa Swamp’

If you’ve heard all about Japan’s legendary swamp monster, then you’d know better than to take a dip in a Kappa infested waters, but no one ever warned against bathing in a Kappa bath.
Apparently, the Kappa that chills out in this bath is also a fan of green tea, which you should be able to smell wafting up from the waters.

Yunessun Japanese Sake Bath becomes ‘Yuki-onna no Yu’

Hijacked by Yuki-onna, the warm waters of the Japanese Sake bath have become cooler due to her wintry mischief. The temperature is actually not so bad, and is great for a nice chilled dip after a soak in the Kappa Swamp or Blood Pond Hell Bath.

Yunessun Aroma Room becomes ‘Yokai Shrine’

Open the door and you’ll be transported to a ghostly atmospheric Yokai Shrine. Here is where the Yokai come to make wishes...perhaps if you make one the kami of the Yokai Shrine might make your wish come true.

It’s not just the baths that have been taken over by Yokai, as strange ghostly drinks and dishes – such as Hitotsume-Kozo Curry (800 yen), Yokai Float (650 yen) and Yuki-onna Sweet Kamameshi (650 yen) – appear on the menu.

The haunting of Yunessun is apparently scheduled to end on the 30th of September when the Yokai are expected to move back to the spiritual plane, so if it was ever on your list to befriend a Japanese ghost or monster there was never a better chance than now!

Kowakien Yunessun Resort ‘Yokai Haunted House Bath’

Venue: Kowakien Yunessun Resort, 1297 Ninotaira, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa 250-0407
Dates: 13 August – 30 September, 2021

Yunessun Area (Swimsuit area): 10am – 6pm
Mori no Yu (Naked bathing area): 11am – 7pm

Yunessun Area (Swimsuit area): 9am – 7pm
Mori no Yu (Naked bathing area): 11am – 8pm

Price for all areas: Adults – 3500 yen, Children – 1,800 yen
Price for Yunessun area only: Adults – 2500 yen, Children – 1,400 yen
Price for Mori no Yu only: Adults – 1,500 yen, Children – 1,000 yen

By - Connie Sceaphierde.