[dropcap size=small]T[/dropcap]he therapeutic properties of the Japanese “hot spring” (or onsen) may be part of why Japan is home to the longest-lived citizens in the world. With that sales pitch in hand, it’s easy to see why the Yunomori Onsen concept succeeded in Thailand, and may take off here.

Here’s the lowdown on what may become a regular wellness ritual for your family or group of friends.

Huge Establishment

The onsen arrived to fanfare to its gargantuan 16,000 sqft. premises at Kallang Wave Mall, but not all of that is the pools. In fact, the pool areas take up a quarter of the space at best.

That’s because there’s been ample space dedicated to the full onsen ritual, plus other recreation options. For each gender, there’s a yukata and undergarment loaning counter, which leads into a makeup / shoe locker / changing room where you shed and stow your clothing. Next to that, a traditional sit-down rinsing area complete with a small pail to upend over your head.

Only then do you glimpse the pools – six for men and five for the women, but you may choose to sweat it out in the steam room beforehand. Guys get a sauna, too.

Massages, Food Also Available

It’s not apparent in the video, but about good third of the space is dedicated to massage rooms (there are four couple rooms and many solo ones) and a bar and lounge area. Currently, only Thai-style massages are offered.

Massages are priced outside the one-time entry fee of $38 (adult).

Complementing the spa experience is the cafe, where Japanese a la carte options (and beer, of  course) are available. We tried the food on launch day – and it’s of the same reasonably good quality as local restaurant franchises. The chicken karaage and Yunomori pork katsu curry rice are safe and tasty bets.

All purchases will be put on a tab via the RFID tag you were assigned at the concierge, which also fastens or unlocks your lockers.


No Full Nudity Required, but…

It’s a defining experience to bare it all in an open-air hot spring in Japan – I’ve done it a few times – but the founders of the spa don’t reckon Singapore is ready for that level of exposure just yet. After all, the bath culture is so deeply ingrained in certain parts of Japan that families are a-okay with bath time together, gender be damned. Perhaps in a few years?

Some of Yunomori’s first customers enjoying a dip in the aerated jet bath. Note the black boxers.

Caveat, however: swimsuits and trunks are not allowed. What then? The yukata counter offers black undergarments for both sexes at no extra cost. They’re not disposable, contrary to what’s going around on the internet – a decision that may be reversed in time to come. However, the management is Japanese, and assured us of a thorough washing process. Between trusting them or other customers… the choice seems obvious.

Flipside: there’s no policy just yet on a minimum dress code, either, so there’s still that off-chance of the full authentic Japanese onsen experience.

Full details of the spa treatments, crash courses on onsen etiquette, and detailed information about each pool are available at their website.