Kumamoto: Temple’s Unique Sauna Brings in Visitors

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A waterfall to wash off the sweat after sauna at Byodoji Temple in Kumamoto

KUMAMOTO — Amid an unprecedented sauna boom, a mountain temple in Kumamoto is attracting many fans.

Byodoji Temple on 300-meter-tall Mt. Fudo imported a barrel sauna from outside Japan and has been operating a private-use “Sauna Gokuraku”(Sauna paradise) since April 2022.

After getting out of the barrel sauna, visitors can wash off sweat by standing under a waterfall — like waterfall training — instead of relaxing in a water bath. The pressure of the waterfall about 3 meters high might be stronger than you expect, so you may have to clench your teeth while enduring the training. Afterwards, get your fill of fresh air by relaxing on a reclining chair that overlooks the mountain.

Courtesy of Byodoji Temple
A barrel sauna at Byodoji Temple

These unusual elements have made the sauna popular, leading young people in their 20s and 30s to visit the temple. The temple aims to become a place where visitors can come easily. Hosho Kakihara, the chief priest of the temple who has been a sauna fan for about 15 years, said he aims to make the place the country’s greatest temple sauna.

Reservations are required for the sauna, which is open twice a day — the morning and the afternoon. There are various courses including a course for ¥20,000 for up to four people.

To experience waterfall training and zazen meditation, visitors are required to pay an extra charge. Rental bathing suits, bathing clothes and bath towels are also available for a fee.