Historic Japanese hot spring fully reopens after major conservation work

The Dogo Onsen hot spring bathhouse in western Japan fully reopened to the public on Thursday after undergoing five and a half years of conservation and repair work.

The Dogo Onsen's Honkan, or main building, is designated as a national important cultural property and is a popular tourist site in Matsuyama City, Ehime Prefecture.

The bathhouse had been operating only partially since 2019, as renovations, including quake-resistance work, took place.

Braving rainy weather, about 50 eager locals and tourists lined up ahead of the 6 a.m. opening. They entered the bathhouse as a Tokidaiko, or time drum, on the rooftop sounded six times.

A university student in her 20s said she had waited for the opening from 10 p.m. the previous night. She said it was worth it because she felt refreshed after a soak in the hot spring and wants to come again.

Sugimura Yukinori, head of Matsuyama City's Dogo Onsen Office, said the staff are grateful to have overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges to welcome many visitors on reopening day.

He added that he wants it to be the start of a new chapter in the history of Dogo Onsen.