Shogun enjoyed Onsen in Edo Castle

By Kikki - Last updated: 土曜日, 5月 22, 2010 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment

Onsen Water was brought from Atami and Kusatsu

Old Drawing and Bird's-eye View of Imperial Palace.

Old Drawing and Bird's-eye View of Imperial Palace.

According to the historical document, a shogun customarily took bath in the evening in the Edo Castle after finishing his duty as an administrator of the state.  “Kosho” pages or high ranked maids were always accompanied and cared him while taking bath. As he liked to take bath in “Nakaoku” or the administrative office and living quarter, pages were in charge however, high ranked maids took care of the shogun in “Ohoku” or the ladies’ chambers in the castle. Because, no male except the shogun was allowed to step into the chambers.

Before taking bath, the shogun removed his short sword from his waist and put it on the stand, and then a high ranked maid took away all shogun’s cloth in the changing room. Another maid called “Onando-yaku” or storeroom keeper stood by outside of the bathroom with seven to eight cotton bags of rice bran. Water was never heated in the bathroom but hot water was prepared in a different house and brought into the bathtub. A “Yudono-kakari” or a high rank maid in charge of the bathroom rubbed the shogun’s body with these white cotton bags of rice bran in the bathroom. She poured a barrel of hot water over the shogun’s body for rinse after rubbing. Then, he moved into the bathtub and enjoyed hot bath. He finally took an “Agariyu” or clean hot water used for rinsing his body after a bath one more time.

About ten sets of white cotton “Yukata” kimono and brand new underwear were always prepared for the shogun. Everything was totally cared by ladies, and the shogun did nothing while taking and after the bath.

Atami Onsen and the image of Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Atami Onsen and the image of Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Ieyasu Tokugawa, the first shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate loved Onsen very much. He made a long stay of 7 days at Atami Onsen in March, Keichou 9 (1604), accompanied with his two sons, Yoshinao and Yorinobu. He seemed to consider that the Onsen water of Atami is better than that of Arima Onsen. Because, he sent hot spring water long way from Atami to Kyoto but not from nearest Arima, where Hiroie Kikkawa, one of the feudal lords, was fell in sick. He sent hot spring water for his cure from illness, because he was totally backed by Hiroei Kikkawa at the Battle of Sekigahara.

The images of "Okumiyu" form Atami Onsen.

The images of "Okumiyu" form Atami Onsen.

It may be said the first “Onsen Takuhai-bin” or hot spring delivery service in our history. The custom of taking hot spring water from Atami Onsen was called “Okumiyu” and had been succeeded to next generation of Tokugawa Shoguns. Ietsuna Tokugawa, the 4th shogun, had started regularly taking hot spring water and brought into the Edo Castle by strong men with a bland new hinoki or Japanese cypress barrel. Of course, the barrel was transfered to other  team of strong men stationed at the next town.

The image of Tokugawa Yoshimune and Kusatsu Onsen.

The image of Tokugawa Yoshimune and Kusatsu Onsen.

Although, it is not a short distance, those strong men took only 15 hours from Atami. When taking out hot spring water from Atami Onsen it was over 90 degrees centigrade, and it could be kept in a good temperature of about 40 degrees at Edo Castle. Later, the special ship for “Okumiyu” was provided instead of these strong men. The 8th shogun Yoshimune was the most frequent useres of Onsen and about  3,640 barrels of hot spring water were recorded for shipment during the years between Kyoho 11 to 19.

As a certified guide-interpreter in English and also a writer of the website “Cool Japan”, I would like to show around the site of the old Edo Castle or “IMPERIAL PALACE” shown as below.

Thank you for your kind cooperation, I am looking forward to your contacts.

Please contact to email address: or

Leaflet Title

Name of the tour Imperial Palace Guided Walking Tour
Tour Code KEN-100511-IP
Tour Features Imperial Palace is the residence of Japanese Emperor. There was once the Edo Castle in the 17th-19th century, and Tokugawa Shoguns resided the castle. After the Meiji Restoration, Emperor Meiji moved to Tokyo from Kyoto. The Imperial Palace is surrounded by moats, and some of the original gates and stone walls remain in the grounds. We walk around the Kokyo Higashi Gyoen which is located in the east part of the Imperial Palace where the buildings of Edo Castle used to stand.

Leaflet Donjon Base+Suwanochaya

Tenshudai Donjon Base

Suwanochaya Teahouse in the Ninomaru Garden

The present donjon base was reconstructed; a year after the Great Fire of the Meireki 3, in 1657, but the donjon itself was never rebuilt. This samurai-style teahouse was built at Fukiage Gyoen in 1912, but at the time of arrangement of the garden, it was removed from there.
Tour Time About 3.5 to 4 hours.
Meeting Time 8:00a.m.-1:00p.m. depend on your request.
Meeting Places At your hotel or JR Tokyo Station.
Tour Prices Number of participants

1 person

2 persons

3 persons

Over 4 persons

8,000 yen/person

5,000 yen/person

4,000 yen/person

3,000 yen/person

Expenses not included in the tour price Meals, transportation fees, and other personal expenses.
Itinerary Meet at your hotel in Tokyo, or JR Tokyo Station (Marunouchi North Entrance) → Otemon Gate→Sannomaru Shozokan→Doshin Bansho→Hyakunin Bansho→Ohbansho→Site of Chugyakumon Gate→Honmaru Lawn→Tenshudai Donjon Base→Ninomaru Garden→Otemon Gate.
Name of the guide Ken Miura
Language English
Distance of the route Approx. 3.5-4.0km
Date of operation Everyday, except on Mondays, Fridays.
For reservation or
Notes *Not covered by insurance.*No responsibility for accidents.*Proper clothes and shoes for the walking tour are recommended.
Posted in Enjoy! Bathing in Onsen • • Top Of Page
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