Japan is a country known for its many natural hot springs (onsen). The Japanese love taking their baths in the hot springs. Anyone would love a nice, relaxing time soaking up in the hot water. There are hot springs and resort towns in every region of Japan. You will surely be able to experience it once you visit the land of the rising sun.
Onsens have many types. They are normally identified based on the minerals dissolved in the water. The benefits you will get from the onsens differ depending on the mineral dissolved in them. It is widely known though that onsens have a relaxing effect on the body and also the mind. There are also many varieties of hot spring baths. There are indoor and outdoor onsens, mixed or gender separated baths, and developed or underdeveloped hot springs. You can go to a ryokan (Japanese style inns) or to the public bath houses found almost everywhere in the country. If you want to experience the traditional Japanese lifestyle, you can stay at a ryokan with its tatami floors, futon beds and the Japanese style baths. Ryokans are popular among locals and tourists alike.
7 Onsens You Must Try in Japan
Among the hundreds of hot springs of Japan, here are seven hot springs you will surely love:
1. Nyuto Onsen
By taking a bus from Tazawako Station, you will reach Nyuto Onsen within 50 minutes. Nyuto Onsen is a collection of onsen ryokan located in the eastern Akita Prefecture. You can stay in the traditional ryokan and experience the hot spring culture of Japan. Nyuto Onsen’s name actually means “nipple hot spring” originating from the suggestive shape of Mount Nyuto nearby. If you are not staying in a ryokan in Nyuto (since all hotsprings belong to a ryokan), you can still take a day trip and pay and admission fee to enjoy the onsen. If you are with you lover, you can opt for the mixed baths or you can also take separate baths in the gender separated onsens. The oldest and most famous ryokan in Nyuto Onsen is Tsurunoyu with its 300-year history. It is known for its large mixed-gender bath and rooms with an irori fireplace. There are also other onsen ryokan that you can go to like the recently added Yamanoyado of the Tsurunoyu Onsen, Kuroyu Onsen,Taenoyu Onsen, Ganiba Onsen, Ogama Onsen, Magoroku Onsen and Kyukamura Nyuto Onsen. From Nyuto Onsen, you can take a 30-minute bus ride to see the beautiful caldera lake Tazawako. It is the deepest lake in Japan. You can have a great time while hiking and soaking in the hot springs right after.
2. Kusatsu Onsen
Kusatsu Onsen is considered as one of Japan’s top onsen destinations with its sulfurous waters. Kusatsu has the largest natural flow of hot spring water in the country. The Yubatake (hot water field) is the main source of hot spring water in Kusatsu town. It is located in the town center and is known as the symbol of Kusatsu. This resort town is a great place to relax and have a good time. There are ryokan and public baths available for you. The famous places you can stay in Kusatsu are Sainokawa Rotenburo, Otakinoyu, Gozanoyu and Shirohatanoyu. If you are on a limited budget but still want to enjoy the hot springs, there are small community bath houses you can find around town. You can use the community bath houses for free, locals and tourists alike. You will find a few foot baths (ashiyu) around town and can relieve your tired feet since anyone can freely use it. There is one just outside the bus terminal building and another one next to the Yubatake. There is an Onsen Museum located on the third floor of the bus terminal if you want to learn about onsen history and Kusatsu town. You can watch a Yumoni (traditional method of cooling down the hot spring water to bathing temperature) performance held daily at Netsunoyu.
Beppu in Kyushu is also another famous hot spring resort in Japan. There are eight different springs that can be found in the city: Beppu, Kannawa, Kankaiji, Hamawaki, Myoban, Kamegawa, Horita and Shibaseki. Each of them features ryokan and public baths. Beppu is famous for its wide array of bath types that anyone can enjoy. You can find the traditional hot water baths there. But there are also sand baths, steam baths and mud baths. You can bury yourself in naturally heated sand, enjoy the steam of the hot spring or relax in the muddy hot waters of Beppu. The notable places you can go are Tanayu, Onsen Hoyo Land, Takigawara, Hyotan Onsen, Ebisuya Onsen, Myoban Onsen and Beppu Beach Sand Onsen.
4. Okuhida Hot Springs
Okuhida hot springs is famous for its rotenburo (outdoor baths) with great views of the surrounding Northern Japan Alps. You will find five onsen towns along the Okuhida valleys. Each of them is fed from different hot spring sources. You can go to Hurayu Onsen, Shin-Hirayu Onsen, Shin-Hotaka Onsen, Fukuji Onsen or Tochio Onsen. You can stay in a ryokan or you can enjoy the bath during the daytime for a fee. Tochio Onsen is the most economical onsen town if you are traveling on a budget.
5. Kurokawa Onsen
Known as one of Japan’s most beautiful hot spring towns, you will find Kurokawa Onsen in the middle of Kyushu. You will experience the quiet, traditional lifestyle in this resort town. It is a wonderful getaway from the busy metropolis. The town offers a forested valley, a flowing river, wooden buildings and stone stairs. You can enjoy a quiet walk as you admire the town in your yukata and geta (wooden) sandals, see the various shops and cafes and visit the local shrine. You can purchase a wooden pass (tegata) from the information center in the town so that you can take a tour of the outdoor baths (also known as Rotemburo Meguri). The tegata will provide admission to the baths of three different ryokan of your choice. There are over twenty ryokan that you can choose from. There are also unmanned public bath houses around Kurokawa where you can soak in for just 200 yen (at the Jizoyu) or 100 yen (at the Anayu). The places to note in Kurokawa are Yamamizuki, Hozantei, Iyashi no Sato Kiyashiki, Kurokawaso, Oku na Yu, Yamabiko Ryokan and Sato no Yu Waraku.
Noboribetsu is located in Hokkaido just 15 minutes from the JR Noboribetsu Station. It is the most famous hot spring resort in Hokkaido. There are eleven different kinds of thermal waters found in Noboribetsu that you can enjoy. There are many ryokan and hotels with hot spring baths that you can stay in Noboribetsu. Guests and daytime travelers can enjoy the hot springs for a fee. There is also a public bath house found in the center of the resort town. The top places you can go to go (which are all gender separated) are Daiichi Takimotokan, Noboribetsu Grand Hotel, Hotel Yumoto Noboribetsu, Noboribetsu Sekisuitei, Sagiriyu Public Bath, Noboribetu Manseikaku and Kahotei Hanaya.,
7. Manza Onsen
Located up on the slopes of Mount Shirane in Gunma Prefecture, Manza Onsen is a hot spring resort town known for its highly acidic waters. You can get health benefits if you soak in the hot springs of Manzan Onsen. You get the benefits of improved blood circulation and metabolism if you go there. This is the best place to enjoy a hot spring bath in the snow. There is a small network of walking trails around the valley that you can enjoy. There are many parts of the trail where you can enjoy a fantastic view of Manza. These trails are inaccessible during the winter because of the snow. Manza also has a yubatake but it is too hot for bathing. In winter, you can also enjoy skiing and snowboarding. There are four lifts operated by Manza Prince Hotel that stands right next to the ski slope. You can rent equipment for the winter sports or try out package plans for you stay. Other places to note are Nisshinkan, Manza Kogen Hotel and Manzatei.
These are just seven of the many hot springs that you can visit. Hot spring culture is a wonderful part of the Japanese culture and attracts many tourist every year. If you visit one of these sights or any hot springs, you will surely grow to love them