indoor swimming

☆Things to Do☆ Or Not @ Spa World in Shin-Sekai

2:26 AM

Osaka gets a pretty bad rap for being a bit homely and.. well, dirty. And it is, really, when compared to the shining tourist attractions of Tokyo and Kyoto. BUT New York is pretty dirty, and that doesn't seem to stop it from being the most fashionable spot on the east coast, right? So I try to cut Osaka some slack and give it the best PR I can because truly, it IS a wonderful city with a colorful bunch of locals just looking to have a good time, just the same as the rest of us.

But THIS. This was too much, even for the Osaka-jin hidden deep in the recesses of my soul. This wasn't my first time at Spa World in Shin-Sekai, but it was my first visit to the pool on the top floor. And it was quite the... experience.






Access

Spa World スパワールド
3 Chome-4-24 Ebisuhigashi, Naniwa Ward,
Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 556-0002, Japan
〒556-0002 大阪市浪速区恵美須東3-4-24
TEL: +81 6-6631-0001
Japanese Website: http://www.spaworld.co.jp/
English Website: http://www.spaworld.co.jp/english/

Spa World is easily accessible from the subway or from the JR Tennoji train station (it is about a 10 minute walk from the JR station though). If you're taking the subway, you can use the Midosuji Line or Sakaisuji Line and exit at the Doubutsuen Mae Station. Then look for a sign for the exit for Shin-Sekai (there might also be a sign for Spa World, but I'm not entirely sure) and it should be exit number 5. Spa World is the largest building the Shin-Sekai area, so it's very easy to find. I've yet to encounter English-speaking staff, but I'm always going in the middle of the night, so maybe some of the day staff speak English. Seeing as there's no information on their English site about it, have your Japanese skills ready!

The Spa World: What's it do??
Well, Spa World is essentially.. a world of all things spa-related. There's a gym, hot tubs and hot baths, sauna, foot baths, massage parlors, rock beds for sleeping, a "pool" and water slides on the top floor with a family bath, plus a hotel. There are also restaurants and ice cream counters. It really is a one stop and shop for all things relaxing. The entry fee system is a tad strange, but this is how I understand it:

Weekday Day Time Rates
3 hours - 2400 yen for Adults (1300 yen for kids 12 and under)
All Day (10 - 8:45 the following day) - 2700 yen (1500 yen)

Weekend Day Time Rates
3 hours - 2700 yen (1500 yen)
All Day - 3000 yen (1700 yen)

Afterhours Use
The afterhours rate is the all day rate plus 1300 yen. But it says this runs from 12am until 5am, so if you were to get there at 11pm, and leave at 6pm, I would think you just have to pay the all day rate? I've yet to test this theory, but I believe that's how it works.

Some separate fees include the hot rock beds, the foots baths, the massage parlours, use of the slides at the pool, swimsuit rental, water shoes rental, and socks and shoes rental for the gym. Use of the lockers is free (you get your 100 yen back after you open the locker).

Guests of the hotel are allowed to use the spa facilities without any extra cost, however, guests with tattoos are not allowed into the spa. :( Buzzkill, I know.

The Spa
The spa separated into two "worlds." One floor is the Asia zone and the other floor is the Europe zone (poor Americas ain't got no spa culture I suppose). These floors will be regulated to each of the sexes, so one floor will be for females only, while another floor will be for males only. The zones change between female and male use throughout the year, so check the signs before going to your floor!

The last time I went to the spa, the fem area was designated as the Europe zone. There was even a little log house the area for Finland, and while I'm unsure as to how accurate that is, it's cute? The spa was quite large, with large open area baths as well as an enclosed rose bath. Some tubs are also much hotter than others (as in one degree different, but for me, it matters), but there's usually a readout of the temperature somewhere near the bath.

The bathing area is quite spacious, and they've got what looks like really nice shampoo and conditioner laid out. Overall, it's quite a nice experience, even better when it's late night and there are very few people around. I'm pretty sure I fell asleep somewhere in the bath at least twice. Don't do that!

The Pool
There's a zoo somewhere out in the darkness.

The pool, although there is an indoor and outdoor pool, is only available during the summer season. And even though it's called a pool, it's really not. It's more like a lazy river with a landing zone in the middle for people coming down the water slides. To be honest, I couldn't actually imagine paying the 2700 yen just for the "pool," which is why I went during their summer sale which had a 1000 yen entrance fee (plus 1300 yen for afterhours use), but this also included a wristband to ride all the slides as many times as you want.
And here's where the problem started in earnest for me. As is advertised on the site, if you enter the facility after 11pm, you will receive a ticket for a wristband that allows you to ride all three slides as many times as you like until 5am. Unfortunately for Shota and I, on the day that we went, one slide was closed for mysterious reasons (they claimed maintenance, but seeing as no one was working on it, that's not really maintenance so much as just being closed). When I asked the staff why we weren't alerted upon entering the facility that we would not be able to ride all three slides as was advertised on the website and the tickets we received, I was greeted with questionable stares and essentially a #kanyeshrug followed with the excuse "Well, we have this event (the all you can ride event) so that we can do things like maintenance, but also make it cheap to use." Ahh, I see, because we're not actually paying for the slides, we can't possibly expect to use them as was advertised on your site.

Okay. Spa World, minus ten points.
Other things that turned me off the whole pool area was the general upkeep of the area. The floors are quite grimey, usually covered in hair and some times food from the food court area, that could all easily be trampled into the nearby lazy pool.

Young people (usually teenagers or 20-somethings) are usually seen running around main entrance, next to the empty lifeguard chair, and though you would hear a whistle every so often, it wasn't nearly enough.
Also, near the female and male entrances, there's a shower with green flooring that leads you to the elevator. The single most disgusting part of the pool. Just the amount of hair and.. I don't know what. It was brown and it covered a lot of the flooring. I didn't want to step on it with my bare feet, but I didn't have watershoes!! No watershoes!!

After walking through the hygienic disaster that was the pool area, I was hardly inclined to make the most of money already spent in the hot baths, and just opted on going home to wash. I hate to admit it, but the pool has put a sour taste in my mouth with regard to using Spa World. It's not really the cheapest spa around, or the nicest (and though it has 温泉 onsen in the title, most people, surprisingly a lot of Osaka people, don't consider it an onsen), so unless you're conducting some sort of social experiment or you really want to go, save your yen and go somewhere else? I hear New Japan has some nice baths.

Maybe that's a little harsh, and as time heals these wounds, I may retract some of these harsh opinions, but as of now, they stand, completely justified.

Spa World, you get ★★☆☆☆ 2 out of 5 stars. Clean your act up. Literally.

★Peaces★

Bonus Round!!
Here's a hilarious and completely gross sign we found near the underground walkway that leads to Shin-Sekai. We originally thought it was a sign to discourage people from parking their bikes. Boy, were we wrong.
"NOTICE: This area is not a toilet. Please do not piss here. There is a toilet up ahead to the left. -From Naniwa Police"

...Werd. I promise to not let the next post be so gross. :)

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