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The restorative waters that flow into the public baths in this town near the coast of western Japan originate from hot springs more than two-thirds of a mile below ground. At the surface, before the water bubbles out of the spouts, it is further heated to 107 degrees Fahrenheit — an ideal temperature for cleansing and soaking weary muscles.

But unbeknown to most bathers, the boiler heating the water runs on a fuel with the uncleanliest of origins: pellets recycled from soiled adult diapers.

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