Life & Leisure

Alluring fusion of ‘onsen’ bliss, gastronomical delights in Tokyo

By María Carcaboso Abrié

Tokyo, Feb 2 (EFE).- A new complex set in traditional Japanese settings combining hot spring baths, called ‘onsen,’ and seafood delicacies opened its doors this week on the artificial island of Toyosu in Tokyo.

The complex, situated next to the Toyosu fish market, aims to draw in two million visitors annually by offering a unique blend of gastronomical delights and spas for relaxation.

Operated by the Manyo Club, the Senkyaku Banrai complex invites visitors to escape the hustle and bustle of the capital’s routine by immersing themselves in the Edo period (1603-1867).

A charming street adorned with wooden houses typical of the era welcomes guests, leading them to a nine-story building housing relaxation and gastronomy areas, along with 71 rooms for overnight stays.

As Japan reopens its borders to tourism post-COVID-19, the country is actively promoting innovative measures to revitalize its tourism industry.

In 2023, Japan welcomed 25.06 million foreign visitors, representing 80 percent of pre-pandemic levels, with expectations to reach 60 million by 2030.

Covering 19,000 square meters, the onsen and spa areas of the complex offer picturesque views of Tokyo Bay, including the possibility of viewing Mount Fuji on clear days. The facilities include saunas, indoor and outdoor baths, and hot rock beds.

The adjacent 15,000 square meters are dedicated to the food area, featuring 70 local restaurants and shops.

Senkyaku Banrai aims to support local commerce and limit the influence of large chains, although some have found their way into the complex.

Manyo Club Vice President Masami Takahashi told reporters during a press tour that the main idea was to bring to Toyosu the food stalls of Tsukiji, which stopped functioning as a market but remained one of the biggest tourist attractions in Tokyo.

However, this was not possible due to delays of more than six years in constructing the Toyosu fish market due to a subsoil contamination problem on the land, which previously housed a gas plant.

As an alternative, local businesses were invited to establish themselves, benefiting both the market and the new complex.

The wooden houses along the main promenade offer traditional street food, including delicacies like ‘yakitori’ (chicken skewers), ‘sashimi’ (raw fish), ‘tamagoyaki’ (rolled egg omelet), and ‘taiyaki’ (fish-shaped sweet filled with azuki red bean paste).

The onsen water, transported daily from Hakone and Odawara in Kanagawa Prefecture, amounts to 40 to 60 tons, providing a rejuvenating experience for visitors.

The complex boasts various hot baths for men and women, where traditional bathing practices encourage a naked soak.

For a complete immersion in ancient Japan, signs, menus, and food stalls feature Japanese writing. However, the complex provides codes for translated information, making the experience accessible to a broader audience.

Senkyaku Banrai, under construction since 2020, anticipates attracting 600,000 annual visitors to the onsen and spa areas and two million to the food area. EFE

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