- A Japanese guesthouse owner has apologized for rarely changing the water in a spa bath, per CNN.
- The water in the bath should have been changed weekly, according to local regulations.
- Legionella bacteria was detected in the bath at 3,700 times the permitted level, CNN reported.
A Japanese hotel boss has apologized for only changing the water in a spa bath twice a year instead of once a week.
The traditional Japanese bath, known as an onsen, was found to contain potentially deadly bacteria during a health inspection, CNN affiliate TV Asahi reported.
Legionella bacteria was found in the Japanese bath at 3,700 times the permitted level, the news outlet reported. According to the report, the bath water, which comes from volcanically heated hot springs, should have been changed weekly to abide by local regulations.
Spa baths are popular in the country, with some even offering visitors the chance to bathe in red wine.
The bacteria can cause a serious type of pneumonia called legionnaires’ disease and can also lead to the less serious Pontiac fever, according to the CDC. The baths were temporarily closed last year after the bacteria was detected but have since been reopened, CNN reported.
Makoto Yamada, the president of the company that owns the Daimaru Besso inn in Chikushino, apologized for the incident during a press conference, per the report.
Yamada told the press conference: “I was not aware of the law myself and thought that legionella bacteria was a common bacterium that could be found anywhere, and also that it was safe because the large baths were free-flowing so the water was changed quite often.”
He said the hotel’s staff had not added chlorine to the water for hygiene reasons “because we selfishly disliked the smell of chlorine.”
Representatives for the Daimaru Besso inn did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
In the months before the pandemic began, Japan had been investing heavily in developing luxury hotels to capitalize on a tourist boom. In 2022, demand for business travel was still weak, compared with tourism, according to the airline Star Flyer.