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If you take a stroll through Nozawa Onsen, don't miss Ogama. Ogama is one of the 30+ natural-source onsen in Nozawa Onsen, with hot water at nearly 100 degrees endlessly bubbling up from deep underground. A certified national natural monument, Ogama is one of the unique sights around Nozawa Onsen. It comprises five large water pools filled with steaming-hot mineral water, named O-gama, Marugama, Yudegama, Takenoshigama, and Shimogama, as shown below.
Ogama (Japanese translation: "hemp pot") is said to be named so because people used to dip harvested hemp in these hot-water pools paddles to make it easier to peel. Nowadays Ogama is known as Nozawa Onsen's kitchen, as village residents use this hot water daily to wash nozawana and cook vegetables and eggs. While visitors aren't allowed to enter this area, you can watch local people washing and cooking vegetables from outside the rail. It's worth a look because this scenery is unique to Nozawa Onsen, where onsen intertwine with people's daily lives.
You can try onsen-boiled eggs and bamboo leaf dumplings cooked in Ogama, available at nearby stores. You'll be surprised to see how the onsen eggs are different from regular eggs.
"The five hot-water pools have different temperatures, and villagers use them according to their needs.
O-gama has two outlets with 90-degree hot water pouring out. Since it's so hot, it's just right for boiling wild plants and other vegetables.
Yudegama also has two outlets with 90-degree hot water feeding the pool. It's used for the same purpose as O-gama to cook wild vegetables and other foods.
Marugama takes its name from the fact that it used to be circular, although it's now rectangular (maru means circle in Japanese). Marugama's temperature is a cooler 71 degrees, and it's reserved for soaking nemagari bamboo strips and akebi vines used in handcrafts. Back in the olden days when the silk industry was booming, this pool was used to sanitize silk-making tools.
Takenoshigama's 80-degree hot water emerges from underneath a big rock on the east side. Local people use this pool in the same way as Marugama.
Shimogama's very gaseous water pours out in a straight line on the south side.

Onsen drawing water from Ogama

In Ogama, as much as 500 liters of slightly alkaline sulphuric hot water gushes out every minute. Of the public baths, Ogama supplies its hot water to Asagama no Yu, Nakao no Yu, Shinden no Yu, Akiha no Yu, Juodo no Yu, Matsuba no Yu, and Kamitera Yu.
The closest public bath to Ogama, only 100m away, is Asagama no Yu. In Japanese, Ogama and Asagama are both written in the same characters, "麻釜," but they are pronounced differently. The water contains Glauber's salt, gypsum and sulphur, and is said to work very well on hemorrhoids, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, paralyses and neuralgia.
Ogama Onsen Park, Furusato no Yu, is a non-accommodation public bath center dubbed the 14th public bath of Nozawa Onsen. The atmospheric structure houses hot water, warm water and outdoor bath areas as well as showers. Admission is 500 yen per adult.
text: Kensuke Itahara

Facility Information

Ogama

Address
8712-1 Toyosato, Nozawaonsen-mura, Shimotakai-gun, Nagano 389-2502

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