Located in northern Tochigi Prefecture, Itamuro Onsen is a designated ‘national health spa’, and is known is Japanese as ‘shimotsuke-no-kusuriyu’- ‘the medicinal baths of Shimotsuke’ – thanks to the water’s healing effects on the body.
Itamuro Onsen Sandai Kigansai is a Winter tradition, during which visitors bring previously received paper fortunes (obtained from the local prayer spot, Sandai Kigansho), and place them into one of the hot springs as a spiritual offering.
It is believed that good fortune will befall anyone who then proceeds in bathing in the same hot spring into which their paper fortune was cast.
Paper fortunes for January: Itamuro Onsen Shrine (believed to cure arthritis and neuralgia)
Paper fortunes for February: Kagoiwa Shrine (believed to cure breast cancer)
Paper fortunes for March and April: Kinomata Jozo (believed to aid conception)
Duration: from the 1st of January to the 23rd of April. On the final day, all the paper fortunes cast into the hot springs will then be burnt in a sacred ceremony, with mochi (rice-dough balls), offered to spectators on the banks of the Nakagawa river in Itamuro Onsen town.