Water temperature drops sharply at hot spring area in northern Japan

The water temperature at a hot spring village in Aomori Prefecture, northern Japan, has plummeted for reasons unknown.

Since the end of December, the temperature at the fountainheads in the Dake resort area in Hirosaki City has dropped from about 80 degrees Celsius to slightly above 50 degrees.

The spring is also producing only about a fifth of its usual output of water.

Four of the six hot spring inns, or ryokan, that usually operate during winter have been forced to close.

The head of the local inns association, Kojima Yohei, says that repair workers could not find anything wrong at one of the water pumping facilities on Sunday.

Kojima says the temperature has never dropped so sharply since the spring waters were tapped about 50 years ago.

He says he is afraid that it will take some time for the closed inns to reopen. He adds that he plans to ask state and local governments for help to resume services.