New hot spring spas are being developed in Japan, even in Tokyo and other cities. Tone Geo Tech, a company founded in the 1920s, has helped develop more than 1,800 hot springs in different parts of the country. It finds hot springs by examining aerial photographs, conducting geological surveys, and using a wide array of exploration equipment.
One of the company's managers, Watanabe Kenji, says there was a big drive to open up hot springs after the government began giving local development grants worth 100 million yen to communities all over the country, about 15 years ago. "More and more cities, towns and villages, even places thought to be without hot springs, have tried to develop their potential as spas, using the technical advances in our industry."
It takes at least a year and half to transform a hot spring into a useable spa. Japan is a country rich in hot springs so rich that no matter where you dig, you are likely to hit one. But it is not easy to find one suitable in terms of temperature, volume and cost feasibility.
"It's still very difficult to predict what is under the ground. When we hit a good spring, clients are all smiles, and that makes me happy, too."
Watanabe Kenji says, "The job I remember most was when we drilled the deepest mineral hot spring well in Japan. We had to go down 2,714 meters. That was in the village of Rokkasho, in Aomori Prefecture."