Bathing in the Midst of Nature

By Kikki - Last updated: 木曜日, 9月 30, 2010 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment

1986 海老沢宏 

Hiroshi Ebisawa Architect & Associates


Kyowa Healthy Forest “Karamatsu Onsen”


 top image D

Name: Kyowa Healthy Forest “Karamatsu Onsen”
Address: 91 Higashi-hyoueyashiki, Kyowa-funaoka, Daisen City, Akita 019-2401, Japan
Phone: 018-893-2211
FAX: 018-893-2250


Admission for quick-bathers

Adult (over Junior-high students)


Child (over 4 year-old)


Child (under 3 year-old)



“Kyowa Healthy Forest” was not a famed resort with long history, but is a brand new resort area. Kyōwa (協和町,) was a town located in Senboku District, Akita, Japan. Population is about 10,000 the town was a poor, cold country area. Buried in snow for 4 months out of the year, 80% of the land is forest and only 9% is arable. Although, 90s had been regarded as the age of local community, it was never applied to this small local town. Most redevelopment projects were usually planned in rather larger local cities.

Daisen (大仙市,) is a city located in Akita Prefecture, Japan. As of 2005, it has an estimated population of 98,326 and an area of 866.68 km², giving a population density of 113.45 per square kilometer.

The city was created on March 22, 2005 from the merger of the city of Ōmagari, the towns of Kamioka, Nishisenboku, Nakasen, Kyōwa (協和町,), Semboku, Ōta, and the village of Nangai, all from Semboku District.

After the merger, Daisen has the distinction of having the largest city assembly in all of Japan, 136 members, far exceeding even Tokyo Metropolis, due to the retention of all of the former municipalities’ assembly members, though some have resigned.


 Kyowa Skii Resort

However, the town of Kyowa and its rich natural resources were suddenly focused on as an excellent resort. About 14 years ago, the local leaders decided to redevelop by digging for hot springs. At first, the Kyowa ski resort project started because the town is located almost the middle between Akita city and Lake Tazawa (田沢湖,). Its success has made Kyowa into the second most popular resort in whole of Akita prefecture. Then, Onsen resort project was proposed as the second stage and started under private sector. 

stream AArchitect, Ebisawa sometimes questions the term “organic” in Post Modern design himself. The main concept for modern design seems to be faded at the height of post-modern. When standing by a curving, slow stream, putting an architectural object it seemed to be anti-organic. It is like a similar bodily sensation which pioneers of modern design had as their concept of molding, but not in written language. It is obviously different from post-modern mind in which often shown in strong impression in an urban area. There is a rainfall, snowfall, and blowing wind. Sounds of running water intersect eyes of small animals. The concept of “organic architecture” is clearly heard in such circumstances. He receives a message from nature when he feels its breathing. He wanted to recreate as much of the existing nature as possible. The wall was done to emulate the flowing river. It is freed from solid state of structure and tries to communicate with nature. It seems like a skin of verbal language. The skin communicates with nature as a messenger from the interior. Architecture must be fundamentally made for human beings to give solution between interior and exterior. Wall itself can be created for communication with blowing winds.

 guest entrance

The site for Kyowa Healthy Forest was rather flat with only one approach from the main street. To provide different approaches for guests and service staff under the above condition, the site was raised with soil to make a gentle slope from the main street to the stream line. Located on a mild slope, the entrance is placed on the second level. First level is reserved as a service entry.

outdoor bath A 

As a result, the outdoor hot bath can take up the whole side of the building facing the riverbank. Guests descend from the second floor mezzanine entrance, to enjoy the open-airiness of the inner bath’s high ceiling. Many parts of the building and bath shapes reflect the existing rivers cape and mountain shapes.

 from entrance to the bath area

Arrived guests smoothly stepped down from the main entrance on the second floor to the bath area through an entrance hall built in two-floor well-hole style. And therefore, inner bath area has also two-floor well-hole. Floor is done in palm wood, which is kind to bare feet. 

kamaburo steam bath AAnother attraction is “Kama-buro” (釜風呂), or a metal-pot steam bath. It originated in Yase(八瀬), old capital Kyoto and has long history. Outdoor style “Kamaburo” is the first setting in our country. Its relatively low temperature (about 50℃) is suited for long bathing.


As a certified guide-interpreter in English and also a writer of the website “Cool Japan Guide”, I will be very happy to accompany you to Kyowa Healthy Forest “Karamatsu Onsen” in Akita. Thank you for your kind cooperation, I am looking forward to your contacts.

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