Aoi YuIn 2006, the South Okazaki area saw a real surge in terms of Onsen. Before 2006, only Wakamatsu Onsen was available to bathing-hungry Okazakians in the area with no car at hand. Then in mid-2006, Aoi Yu was built next to Aeon/Jusco/Seibu, a prime location to say the least. Not much later, at the end of 2006, Raku no Yu opened not far from Minami Koen bringing the total of Onsen in the vicinity from a previous one up to three.
Aoi Yu is the most expensive of all three Onsen in the area with a one-time entrance fee of 700 Yen on weekdays and weekends alike. Kids up to three years can enter at no charge.
There are several baths indoors, a sauna and an extensive outdoors area with several fairly different rotemburo which make for good relaxing. What makes Aoi Yu stand out is the inhouse vegetables and fruits market (where the nation-wide known Hacho Miso is also sold - if you don't have time to visit the Hatcho Miso Production Plant, buy your supply here) and the restaurant which offers not only udon shikoku-style but also a wide range of healthy dishes incl. vegetarian food (tofu-based) at very reasonable prices.
If you have never been to an Onsen before, make sure you know the basic rules of bathing in Japan.
Bring a towel for drying and a small towel for washing yourself. If necessary, they can also be rented at the onsen. Men and Women bath seperately. After undressing and entering the bath, shower yourself at the first washstand - a ritual cleansing. Then take a thorough shower, washing yourself properly - the actual pool is not meant for cleaning but for relaxing. This is what the small towel is used for. Shampoo and soap are provided but if you have particular preferences, you are better off bringing your favourite cosmetics.
Afterwards you are free to relax. The small towel is used to cover your private parts while changing pools or taking a sunbath in the fenced outside. Although it is acceptable to cover the head or the face with the small towel, please ensure that it does not come into contact with the actual poolwater - the towel was used for cleaning whereas the pool water is supposed to stay clean for everyone. Try the massaging or the electricity pool baths in the main pool, sweat yourself clean in the sauna or enjoy the pleasure of bathing outside in the water enriched with minerals. As the pools are relatively hot, make sure you do not overdo it on your first visit.
After you finish bathing, take a shower again and then get dressed.
Aoi Yu is open every day of the year from 10:00 until 24:00 with the last admission at 23:00. They reserve to close the location for inspections on several days a year. If you come from far to visit, better check ahead but in general it's probably safe to assume the Onsen to be open.
The official Aoi Yu website is available at http://www.kiray-yu.com/aoiyu/index.html
How to get there:
The easist access would probably be coming from JR Okazaki Station. Drive towards the Civic Center, cross the street passing Karubi Yakiniku on the left and go straight ahead on this road (Road 483) until you see the huge Jusco / Seibu complex on the right and you should be there already. Aoi Yu is located between Gateau Tasumiya Cakes (right next to the street but not very outstanding) and Kappa Sushi (much easier to spot). If you come to the Book Off at the same street, you have gone too far.
Walking from JR Okazaki Station would probably take 15 minutes, from Civic Center it would be 10 minutes. There are several bus stops along Road 483 as well.