By KATSUTOSHI KATOH/ Staff Writer
October 17, 2019 at 08:00 JST
BEPPU, Oita Prefecture--Getting away to a hot spring onsen is a recipe for relaxation, but what if the onsen could come to you?
Beppu city-affiliated B-biz Link started a service to deliver spa water from the municipality famous for its numerous hot springs to households and facilities across Japan.
Under the Beppu Onsen Omiya initiative, the company sends anywhere from 200 liters to 4,000 liters of hot water. A household bathtub typically requires 200 to 300 liters of water.
The availability of larger volumes allows, for example, operators of student dormitories and care facilities for elderly people to provide an onsen bathing experience in large baths.
B-biz Link also anticipates that customers will use the service to spring a surprise on family members, friends and users of such facilities.
“Omiya” means souvenir in Japanese.
The water, which is a simple weak alkaline type renowned for its skin healing properties, is transported in a special thermal tank to keep its temperature at 45 degrees or higher.
The service costs 1 million ($9,200) to 1.1 million yen, including transportation costs, in northernmost Hokkaido and southernmost Okinawa Prefecture. Recipients living in other prefectures can purchase onsen water for between 100,000 yen and hundreds of thousands of yen.
Coinciding with the service's introduction, B-biz Link started a promotional campaign that continues through January. Under the campaign, those who visited Beppu in May or afterward can apply.
If they who post stories about their visit to Beppu and register other information on a special website (https://onsenomiya.gokuraku-jigoku-beppu.com/), they will be eligible to enter a draw, with 100 people selected to receive free hot onsen water.
The plan to sell hot spring water was initially suggested in 2017, a year after a series of strong earthquakes struck Kumamoto and Oita prefectures, triggering a drastic decline in visitors to Beppu.
In appreciation for the kindness shown by individuals and groups who offered relief supplies, hot spring water was presented to people at 148 locations in all 47 prefectures, a campaign that drew considerable attention.
The Beppu city government provided 11 million yen to support the recently launched service.
"We want older people and tourists who remember visiting Beppu to actively use the service," said Hirokazu Goto, 38, a B-biz Link official. “It (the onsen water) is a souvenir we are proud of.”
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