The Yunokawa Onsen (hot spring) district is the oldest
hot spring resort in Hokkaido. The water of the onsen
contains large amounts of sodium chloride, which is said
to be effective against rheumatism, wounds, gastro
enteric disorders, etc. There are about 1.8 million tourists
a year who come visit the area for the onsen and other
attractions around it. In the summer and autumn nights,
there are squid boats out in the Tsugaru Strait fishing.
The lights from the squid boats create a beautiful view of
the water from the open air bath located at the mouth of
the Matsu Kura River on the Yunokawa beach. Some
other places you can go to in the area is the Tropical
Garden called Nettai Shobutsuen, which is heated by the
onsen and is known for the monkeys bathing in the
rotenburo (open air bath). There is even Japan’s first
convent located in the Yunokawa district called The
Trappistine Convent. It is still currently being used by
nuns and thus tourists cannot enter the convent, but the
architecture and garden are a nice attraction.
Yunokawa Onsen (hot springs) was first discovered in 1653. The hot spring was founded by Seiryoin who was the mother of the 4th Matsumae lord named Takahiro also known as Chikatsumaru. It is said she had a dream about the onsen east of the Matsumae Castle and brought her ailing son to the water of the hot spring to cure his illness. After soaking in the water every day, the disease that seemed to have no cure at the time was healed by the water. Even after his illness was healed, Matsumae Takahiro would soak in the Yunokawa Onsen. During the Battle of Hakodate, which was one of the final fights in the Boshin War (1868-1869), the wounded soldiers would come to the hot springs to heal their injuries. This shows the effectiveness of the contents in the hot spring water.