Dogo Onsen Honkan

Dogo Onsen Honkan, Matsuyama: Hours, Address, Dogo Onsen Honkan Reviews: 4/5

Dogo Onsen Honkan
Onsen Resorts • Thermal Spas
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6:00 AM - 11:00 PM
6:00 AM - 11:00 PM
6:00 AM - 11:00 PM
6:00 AM - 11:00 PM
6:00 AM - 11:00 PM
6:00 AM - 11:00 PM
6:00 AM - 11:00 PM
6:00 AM - 11:00 PM
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Dogo Onsen Honkan is one of the oldest Hot Spring in Japan and has a history of 3000 years. And Dogo Onsen Honkan has a \
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1-2 hours
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1,587 reviews
Very good

London97 contributions
It's a bit of a hike from the JR station but you can take the tram that leaves near the station for ¥160 or walk it going through the castle on the way. Good views from the top of the castle but if you're pushed for time, skip it, as it's a pretty standard castle. 

Dogo onsen. Enter the main building, take off your shoes and place them in the locker on your left. They have an English info leaflet. There's 4 prices you can pay. About 400¥, about ¥800, about ¥1200 and about ¥1600. The first two are for the public bath. The lady at the desk only offered me these ones so I had to ask for the more expensive ones. The more expensive ones give you access to the private onsen which is smaller but less people, and I think you get a fancier biscuit with your tea and a tour of the emperor's private onsen when you're done. 

It's worth paying extra. Don't be a cheapskate, you've come all this way, just do it.

Once you've bought your ticket, you'll go up to the second floor (if you bought the more expensive one). You'll be greeted by some ladies who show you to a tatami room with trays and cushions. Here you put your valuables (including bulky things like jackets) in the tray, get given a yukata and small towel and shown where the entrance to the bath is. Go downstairs and you'll be in a changing room with small lockers to put your undies and anything you didn't leave in the tray upstairs. Get naked. Leave the yukata in the locker for later. The onsen is behind you next to the stairs. Don't be a moron like I was and go through the door in front of you which leads to some tiny garden. And now you're naked in a garden. 

Once you've got to the right place wash yourself thoroughly. A good few minutes aught to do it. Then make sure you've got no soap etc on you and gingerly step in the the hot but not boiling waters.  Side note; I've seen some reports that the water is boiling hot.  This is not the case. I'm fairly sensitive to stuff that's too hot and this was definitely just right. Don't worry you won't accidentally boil your eggs, you'll adjust quickly and soon you'll be in onsen heaven. Wear your towel on your head like the locals if you want, otherwise leave it by the side but do not take it in the water with you. Soak for a bit, get out, have another wash, get back in, rinse and repeat, literally. 

If you want to check out the other onsen, grab your yukata, wrap the right side in first then wrap the left over it and tie it up with the little belt they give you. I tied mine in a nice bow but style is optional, not mandatory. 

Walk back upstairs and they'll show you where the public onsen is. It's bigger and I think it looks a bit cooler actually but of course, it's filled with commoners who didn't want to pay extra. I'm just kidding, it's really nice and everyone's lovely. Enjoy that for a while and if you want one last dip in the fancy pool then head back for a bit. I think you have a one hour limit, which doesn't seem long enough and I think I actually lost track of time and stayed longer but nobody said anything. 

Dry yourself off (it helps if you bring your own towel as they didn't provide one​ and I had to use the hairdryer), get dressed and head back to your bag tray thing. They'll bring you some green tea and a yummy little biscuit and you can sit on your cushion for a bit and feel at one with the world.

After that they gave me a tour of the emperor's private onsen (in decent English) and were also going to show me a famous author's somethingorother but I had ran out of time so didn't get to find out.

Even with very poor Japanese, I got by and they understood just enough of me to get me to the bath without humiliating myself too much.

The building is great and the baths themselves are really cool. If you're a Ghibli fan like me, you'll want to give this a go, it's great thinking that possibly Hayao Miyazaki was sitting in here dreaming up Spirited Away.
Written January 17, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Jan H
Manchester, United Kingdom38 contributions
We decided to have our first onsen experience at Dogo Onsen main hall, because of its history and connection to Botchan and Spirited Away. And also because it offers the chance to experience a private room for changing out of your clothes before the bath and relaxing with a cup of tea and rice dumplings afterwards. Perhaps because it's busy with regular customers, we found the staff helpful but perfunctory. When we weren't in the bath, everything felt a bit rushed, as though we were on a conveyor belt. We started in the Tama no Yu bath, which is small, on the second floor. The women's bath had around half a dozen people in and felt busy. The water wasn't too hot and sitting in it was very relaxing. Fortunately, I'd read up about bathing etiquette before we went, so knew what to do, as there were only minimal directions. I washed and showered at the low showers before the bath, which were on a slow release button, which made washing and rinsing hard work, especially as the water pressure kept dropping. Then I went into the bath. Nobody speaks or makes eye contact, which made it feel like I was at a passive aggressive swimming pool! Afterwards, I dried off, put on my yukata and dried my hair. I was going to head back to the private room, but staff ushered me downstairs to the public bath. I had to repeat the washing and rinsing ritual, then went into the much larger bath. The water was a lot hotter and I felt light headed quite quickly. The public bath had more of a bustle to it, with bathers moving around more, and chatting in groups. Because I was in there on my own, it felt quite isolating. I'm glad I've had the experience, but I don't know if I would repeat it, unless I was with a female friend. The tea and dumplings afterwards were very welcome, as was the chance to relax and look out on the wet streets of Matsuyama from the third floor balcony.
Written May 31, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Singapore, Singapore98 contributions
We are a party of 4 ladies and our umpteenth time to Japan but our 1st to Shikoku.

There is an alley shopping street next to Dogo onsen, a smallish one that can be done in 30mins, selling mostly local food stuff souvenir. Had our lunch n walked off the extras, we headed to Dogo onsen. We visited on Thursday.

You have to leave your name at the entrance ticket window and you have to listen out for your name to be called when a private room becomes available. It was a short 5mins wait.

I love onsen-ing and heard good things about Dogo Onsen. We booked a private room and went in with high expectations, it is after all Japan's oldest hot spring and has a history of 3000 years!

Price Y1,550 per pax for use of 2 public onsens, 80mins use of a private lounge room on 3rd floor and green tea & a skewer of Botchan dumplings for each person.

We were led up 2 flights of wooden stairs to the upper room on the 3rd floor, given a set of yukata, towels and to our private room. Looked promising. We changed into our yukata.

We were led downstairs to Tama no yu on the 2nd floor. Tamanoyu is a small bath with small bathing facilities for 3 persons at any 1 time, shampoo n a cake of used soap (dodgy).
No proper changing room, just a small holding area with lockers n a few hair dryers.

We were there for 10mins and headed to 1st floor Kaminoyu, hoping it would be a better bath. It was a bigger bath, more spacious but didnt have shampoo and soap for bathing.

I went to check with the service staff expecting there must be another better one that we had missed. No, just 2 baths. Both were equally disappointing.

As we went back to our private room, we went by the 2nd level lounge area, a big open space and looked relaxing n inviting.

The best part of the Dogo experience is perhaps the Botchan dumpling of 3 colours which I enjoyed.

1. Dont need to spend Y1550 per pax for a private room use.
2nd floor lounge area costing Y1250, comes with tour of Royal Family bath, or Y840 without tour, is good enough.

2. Bring your own toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, face soap, shower cap) to Dogo onsen.

3. The little tour to visit where the royal family have their private bath and what is done is quite interesting. It s a mere short 10 mins tour.

Over-rated. Overhyped. Utterly disappointing.
Will not visit again.
Written September 4, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

3 contributions
Tattooed person can use here. We got so surprised to hear that.
Hot spring is way too hot for us but everything is beautiful.
Written June 5, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Vancouver Island, Canada458 contributions
We have been in many Onsen on this trip and previous trips to Japan. This was one was by far not our favourite. First it is very public and touristy. One is rushed through and even though we chose the 1200 yen level treatment it was confusing. We ended up with a wash cloth but without a towel to dry off. There was no help on where to leave clothing for the tea room. The only thing that was impressive was the included tour of the Emperor's rooms and bath afterward.
Written October 30, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Natasha I
Montreal, Canada94 contributions
For any foreigner looking to experience the traditional Japanese public baths, Dogo Onsen Honkan is a must-visit. They offer different packages however the price is so reasonable (around 1500 - 2000 yen for the top tiers if I remember correctly), that it is worth it to go "all out" in a manner of speaking. We got the most expensive package which gave us a private tatami room to change in, yukatas, access to an smaller and more exclusive onsen that had soap, shampoo and conditioner, access to the larger onsen (where people go directly if they pay lower tier), matcha with a mochi dessert in your private room after your soak, and access to the rooms where the Imperial family would stay when they visited. I believe the second-to-highest price point offers everything that I just described minus the private room (you have your tea and mochi in a larger tatami room with other people, which was also a beautiful room and could be a good experience if you prefer a more social environment). The price did not include bath towels so you should bring your own unless you want to rent one for around 100 yen.
For anyone going to a public onsen for the first time, it could be worth it to look up the proper etiquette ahead of time so that you aren't confused when you arrive and so that you don't do anything that would be considered improper. The onsen are all gender segregated. Upon entering the change room, you must take off your clothes and leave all of your personal effects in the lockers (free lockers with keys are provided). When you get into the onsen room, you have to sit on the little stool and wash yourself thoroughly with soap, shampoo and conditioner prior to entering the bath. I can't speak for the men's onsen, but the women were very respectful and did not stare (it may feel awkward at first but you get used to it pretty quickly). After you finish soaking, you dry off and put your yukata back on before moving on to the next onsen or to the rest area for your tea/dessert.
Note that the larger, less exclusive onsen did not have soap, shampoo or conditioner. I was not sure prior to entering the bath if I had to re-wash my entire body again with soap however since I didn't have any, I had no choice but to just rinse myself (I am still not sure if I offended anyone by doing this, or if it is even necessary to shower again if you already did in the more exclusive onsen).
After soaking, I went back to the private room to meet my cousin for tea and mochi, both of which were delicious (the mochi was so soft!). The private rooms are only reserved for a period of 80 minutes, so you have to keep track of time while you're soaking so that you leave enough time to relax afterwards.
After our tea, we were allowed to explore the building which was so cool! There seemed to be endless narrow corridors, steep stairwells, hidden passageways and rooms, and I can definitely see how this building inspired the location in the Spirited Away film. The building is old and filled with history and tradition. The imperial area was also pretty interesting (a paper with English information was given to us so that we could learn the history).
We did not get the chance to visit the newer Dogo Onsen building, which is supposed to be a lot more modern and luxurious. However I do not regret visiting the old building since it was a wonderful experience nonetheless.
Pro tip: visit on a weekday in the morning/before noon and there will barely be anyone around. I had the exclusive onsen entirely to myself.
Written May 19, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Dunedin, New Zealand17 contributions
During a week staying 5 min walk down the road I was inspired to visit this onsen only twice, for good reason. I can't actually think of another onsen (even just run of the mill city onsen) at which I had to bring my own towel, soap and yukata... and dig through a pile of other people's shed hair to soak in a small hot pool where the only entertainment was watching people read the inscription on the central pillar. 2nd visit I tried the upscaled 840 yen experience which yielded a yukata and a cup of lukewarm tea and plastic-wrapped biscuits - but still required me to pay extra for a towel, soap, and a hairdryer! Recommendation? Save your yen and go to the buddist temples on the hills behind Dogo Onsen instead. Or possibly visit the adjacent 'day onsen'.
Written September 21, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Niigata, Japan1 contribution
My husband and I bought ANA flight tickets from Travelzoo Newsflash to go to Dogo Onsen, Matsuyama from our hometown Niigata. It was up to 77% off the regular rate if we bought tickets in 55-day advance.

I chose this deal because I wanted to depart from the local Niigata airport. I often find cheap tickets from a major airport like Haneda but not Niigata. But this time, I was able to find a great deal departing from Niigata.

I wanted to buy tickets for a three-day weekend in July. Usually tickets for such holidays are expensive or fully booked due to the popularity. However, since this deal required a 55-day advance purchase, the seat was still available and the discount rate was high. It was worth buying.

In addition, by going there by airplane saved our time much more than going there by Shinkansen. That is, it took only a half day to get to Matsuyama from Niigata. If I had gone there by Shinkansen, it would have taken all day to get there. Since we saved our travel time, we were able to go to many sightseeing spots like Dogo Onsen, Matsuyama Castle, Tobe Zoo, Shimanami Kaido, even Onomichi, Hiroshima etc.

Especially, I enjoyed Dogo Onsen Honkan! Due to a three-day weekend, it was very crowded during day time. So we decided to go there at 6:00 am, an opening time. Eventhough many people was around Dogo Onsen Honkan, we were able to enter without waiting in line. We paid JPY800 each for bathing and experiencing yukata, tea, and sweet on the 2nd floor. The Onsen was colorless and transparent and gentle on the skin; tea and sweet were served in exact timing by experienced staff. It was a great time!

We will be back.
Written January 2, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

n s
Toronto, Canada396 contributions
Not a typical onsen in that it is in town, in a major city. And is a known more for its history and literary associations. Currently undergoing renovations, but the main baths are still there and with all the historic atmosphere intact.
Written September 26, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Nathaniel Fine
Seattle, WA10 contributions
The facade of the bathhouse is beautiful beyond belief. As of September 2019, scaffolding obscures about half of the complex, but the front approach is untouched. Inside, the dressing rooms and the baths feel like you have slipped back into the past. The water is HOT. Be sure to hydrate!
Written September 23, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Dogo Onsen Honkan

Dogo Onsen Honkan is open:
  • Sun - Sat 6:00 AM - 11:00 PM
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