The 12th century (Heian〜Kamakura period)
Fujikura (saddles made of wisteria wood ) originated in Yunishigawa-onsen and are exhibited in the treasure space of Bankyu’s lobby.
Yunishigawa hot spring was where soldiers of the Heike (Taira) clan fled after being defeated by the Genji (Minamoto) clan in the Battle of Dan-no-Ura in the great Gempei War of 1185 that had split the country in two. Here, they lived in quiet exile, making the area their new home, an uninhabited region where traditional carp streamers were never hoisted nor livestock raised to prevent discovery by their Genji pursuers.
The practices borne from this exile gradually were passed on, evolving into deeply-rooted local customs that survived for 800 years and can be felt to this day. It is said that Yunishigawa emerged as a hot springs region as the defeated soldiers endeavored to heal their physical and spiritual wounds. Today, thousands of people make the same journey from far away to bathe in the region’s curative waters.
The oldest hot spring in the area dates back over 820 years and is believed to have been discovered by Tadazane Taira (descendent of Taira no Kiyomori, the clan leader). It is the site of Honke Bankyu’s current open-air bath for men, “Fujikura no Yu” and is known as the original hot spring of Yunishigawa. (The wooden “Fuji” horse stirrups are on display in the main building.)