Explore Onsen in Japan!

Here's our selected ryokan onsen across Japan for you, all of which offer a marvelous experience of Japanese hot springs. Please soak in an refresh your body and soul, recharge your battery while traveling in Japan.

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How to bathe in an Onsen

草津温泉
 Kusatsu Onsen

The town of Kusatsu Onsen is located on a 1200m high plateau to the east of Mount Shirane-san on the border between Gunma and Nagano prefectures. Kusatsu Onsen, often referred to as one of the three best Japanese hot springs is one of the most famous onsen areas in Japan. Although it is a large spa town with a long history, it is not an entertainment district where brilliant neon reigns. Instead, it continues to retain the atmosphere of the good old days.

Each minute, 36,839 liters of piping hot, strongly acidic, sulfuric water springs forth from more than 100 sources around the town, making this the largest per minute quantity in Japan. The onsen facilities in Kusatsu Onsen are known to be effective in treating nerve problems, muscle aches, exhaustion, chronic skin diseases and other medical predicaments.

At the center of the town can be found the amazing scene of Yubata, where clouds of steam rising from the earth combine with a sulfurous smell as 'Yutaki,' a dynamic 'hot' waterfall, plummets into a blue green plunge pool.

In terms of taking a dip, Kusatsu Onsen has a unique bathing method, called "jikan-yu" (meaning limited time bathing). After "yumomi," a method of cooling the very high temperature water to a suitable temperature for bathing using long wooden paddles, you soak in a bath for only 3 minutes and are timed by instructors in a system designed to produce the best effects for the bathers. Paddles are used to cool as adding cold water to reduce temperature removes much of the beneficial side of the onsen.

Atsu-no-yu, hosts "yumomi" shows, and Shirahata-no-yu, a public bathhouse, are both close to Yubata as are facilities for foot bathing, ryokan and hotels for staying in, souvenir shops to secure a memento of your trip and restaurants to replenish the internal energy.

A little further afield but still nearby, Yukama at Mount Shirane-san has a beautiful emerald green lake and is reached following a 30 minute drive and a 20 minute hike.


Links
Kusatsu Inn Association(Japanese version only)
Kusatsu Onsen Tourism Association

伊豆下田温泉
 Izu Shimoda Onsen

Japan's famous Izu Peninsula separates Suruga and Sagami Bays, is host to a large number of hot springs and is one of the most picturesque parts of the Kanto area. Of the many famous 'onsen,' Toi and Dogashima in Nishi-Izu, Izu Nagaoka, Oohito, Shuzenji and Amagi-Yugashima in Naka-Izu and Ito, Atagawa, Inatori and Kawazu in Higashi-Izu are but a few of the most prominent areas anyone in or near Tokyo, Yokohama and Shizuoka has very easy and convenient access to.

Such hot springs as Rendaiji Onsen, located in Shimoda City and called a "Tanjun-sen"(meaning: 1 liter of water contains less than 1 gram of minerals and gas) and Kawachi Onsen, Shirahama Onsen and Kannon Onsen, called "Kyo-arukari-sen" (meaning: the water has a pH level of 10 and above) in Minami-Izu (Southern Izu) are generally called "Shimoda Onsen." The areas of Aitama and Toji, both nearby also have plentiful supplies of hot spring water.

Shimoda has been an important junction on the domestic maritime transportation route between Edo (now Tokyo) and Kamigata (now Osaka) since the Edo Period (1603-1867). At the end of this period, following the arrival of the Black Ships of Commodore Perry in 1853, Shimoda established itself as Japan's gateway to the world - a move that has resulted in a large number of sightseeing spots and old ruins in Shimoda itself. Coupled with the waters, the delicious local treats, seasonal flowers and a breathtaking ocean view, Shimoda Onsen truly has something for everyone to enjoy.


Links
Shimoda Onsen Ryokan Association)

別府温泉
 Beppu Onsen

Beppu Onsen in Oita Prefecture, in the northeastern region of Japan's Kyushu Island is one of the greatest natural hot spring areas in the world.

The amount of water emerging from beneath the earth here stands at an impressive 140,000 kiloliters daily - globally number 2 as far as quantity goes. The number of sources for this naturally heated water to access the surface stands at more than 2840, and with categories of water numbering in excess of 10, this makes Beppu the No.1 spot for onsen in the archipelago.

Beppu Onsen Resort consists of 8 hot springs collectively called "Beppu Hatto," and each features a different type and quality of water and landscape.

Beppu Onsen is located in front of JR Beppu Station and has a long an interesting history. Takegawara Onsen Hotel is a massive wooden building and acts as a symbol of the town. Hamawaki Onsen is located in a more residential area and clouds of steam can be seen rising all around Kannawa Onsen, the single most famous hot spring in the Beppu area.

Away from the town, Myoban Onsen is located at the foot of a mountain and is well-known for the mineral encrustations deposited by the hot springs over eons. Beppu Bay and the town can be viewed from Kankaiji Onsen which is located 150m above sea level. In Kamegawa Onsen, ample water springs on the coast and a natural sand bath are both famous and popular and even in the paddy fields on the mountain side we can see steam rising - at Horita Onsen. Shibaseki Onsen is another old spa famous for the healing and recuperation effects of its water.

Why not walk around "Jigoku" (Jigoku-meguri) with steam rising and high-temperature water springs from all around Beppu forming boiling ponds called 'jigoku' ('hell' is a literal translation of jigoku)? Visitors usually walk around 8 of the 'jigoku;' Shiraike, Kinryu, Oniyama, Kamado, Yama, Umi, Chinoike and Tatsumaki and a visit to Jigoku-meguri is often one of the highlights of a visit to Beppu.


Links
Beppu City Ryokan-Hotel-Kumiai

湯の川温泉
 Yunokawa Onsen

There is a hot spring town on the coast of Hokkaido, close to Hakodate Airport and the Hakodate Horse Track, in the northeastern part of the prefecture's Hakodate City.

The town is Yunokawa Onsen and it is one of the three major hot springs on the island of Hokkaido. The spa's origins date back to 1653 when the then lord of the Matsumae clan was on the verge of death. Neither medicine nor treatment could cure his illness, and his condition worsened daily. One day his mother had a dream in which she was told that if he went to a hot spring located to the east of Matsumae Castle, he would recover. The onsen to the east of the castle is Yunokawa Onsen and it is reported that the lord visited the spa, soaked away his illness and completely recovered.

The water at Yunokawa Onsen includes a lot of NaCa (sodium chloride), is transparent, odorless and soft on the skin as well as being said effective in other areas. This hot spring is said to be good for those sensitive to cold temperatures, rheumatism, sprains, bruises, women's problems, stiff shoulders, back problems, nerve pain and gastroenteric disorders in addition to being able to soothe fatigue.

Around Yunokawa, the local area boasts an impressive fishing industry and serves up various types of seafood. From summer to early winter, visitors can eat fresh squid caught the evening before using just fishing fires.

Yunokawa is also famous for the outstanding surrounding landscapes created by the mountains and the ocean. Close to Hakodate, an international city visited by around 5 million every year, Yunokawa is well worth a visit so why not stay the night? After all, it is just 20 minutes by train from Hakodate.

Yunokawa Onsen Isaribi Matsuri Festival is held annually on the third Saturday and Sunday in August. Squid-fishing vessels, evenly spaced line-up near the shore to present a fascinating view as lanterns float on the surface of the Matsukura River and fireworks explode in the sky above the inky black sea in an attractive display of color amid darkness.


Links
Yunokawa Onsen Ryokan Association (Japanese)

蔵王温泉
 Zao Onsen

The Zao mountain range is located on the border separating Yamagata and Miyagi prefectures with the 1840m Mount Kumanodake standing proudly as its dominant peak. The range is renowned for its trekking opportunities and the variety of alpine plants to be found in the area and it is the naturally formed "Okama," circular Crater Lake with its emerald green water that is famous as one of the symbols of Zao.

Zao Onsen is located on the Northwestern slopes of Mount Zao and is known for its ski resorts and snow & frost covered trees in wintertime. The onsen here is the oldest in the prefecture and it is said that in 110AD, when a warrior injured by an arrow came to soak in the onsen he was able to leave soon afterwards - completely healed.

There are now as many as 47 water sources known to be bubbling up at around 900m on the hillside of Mount Zao and a walk around the town with its strong smell of sulfur will not escape your notice for long. The water here is strongly acidic, in ample supply and effective in curing various ailments. These properties combine to atract a number of different types of accommodation to the area - from the older, well established Japanese ryokan to the modern resort hotels, both stand ready to house visitors.

Three old-style public baths, a famous and very large open-air bath and a sprinkling of other facilities enabling you to take as many leisurely dips as you need are scattered around the town and one of the most popular is the Zao Onsen Dai-roten-buro; a large open-air bath made of stone and supplied with water from a mountain stream. This open-air bath is located at the highest point in the town, is open from late April to early November and features two-tier bathtubs for both men and women. The water temperature of the upper bathtub (atsu-yu) is higher than that of the lower and water flowing over the sides of the upper tub makes its way into the lower tub (nuru-yu) via a wooden gutter leaving the water in the lower tub slightly tepid. This system enables bathers to experience two temperatures (of water). Any overflow from the lower tub runs off into a side stream and is discarded. The sheer flow of water here keeps the baths clean with mechanical recycling unnecessary.


Links
Zao Onsen Tourism Association (Japanese version only)

箱根温泉
 Hakone Onsen

The Hakone Onsen area is famous for the excellent quality of its water and numerous breathtaking views of Mount Fuji and Lake Ashi. In the area there are many well established hot springs and Hakone in general is full of locations of historical interest and great natural beauty. Not so far from Tokyo, Hakone is reached very easily using public transportation.

It is said that there are 17 hot springs gurgling forth 20 different kinds of water in Hakone. The amount of water emerging from beneath the earth is estimated at 25,000 tons a day and as such, Hakone is in fifth position nationally in terms of quantity - as well as being one of the most famous hot springs in Japan.

Hakone Yumoto is the oldest of the 17 hot springs in Hakone and is believed to have opened in 738AD. The Tonosawa Onsen area is located along the Hayakawa River and has many old ryokan in a calm setting said loved by celebrities such as politicians and artists. The four-storied wooden ryokan "Kansuiro" here is registered as a prized Cultural Property of Japan.

Ohiradai Onsen and Dogashima Onsen are located upstream and Miyanoshita Onsen hosts the famous Fujiya Hotel which first opened in the Edo period, thereafter prospering as a resort for foreigners in the Meiji period. Sokokura Onsen, Kiga Onsen, Ninotaira Onsen, Kowakudani Onsen, Gora Onsen, Miyagino Onsen, Sengokuhara Onsen, Ubako Onsen, Yunohanazawa Onsen and Takogawa Onsen are also to be found nearby while Ashinoyu Onsen is a peaceful spa at the foot of Mount Komagatake alongside the old Hakone Kaido street. Ashinoko Onsen offers wonderful views of Lake Ashi after which it is named, as well as of Mount Fuji.

Popular with tourists, steam rising at Owakudani and the rare plants found at Sengokuhara - a moor - are both worth visiting. The upside-down image of Mount Fuji viewed on the surface of Lake Ashi as seen from the cedar-lined road on the southern bank of the lake is one of the most picturesque images in Hakone. Fishing on the lake can be enjoyed by those wishing to chuck in a rod as can the panoramic view from the 1,357m peak of Mount Komagatake for those with a little more energy.


Links
Hakone Hot spring Ryokans and Hotels Association

鬼怒川温泉
 Kinugawa Onsen

Kinugawa Onsen is located in northern Tochigi Prefecture and it is one of the most famous hot spring areas in the northern Kanto region. Discovered around 300 years ago it is now home to a number of large-scale hotels and ryokan standing either side of the Kinu River - an area of great natural beauty. The water in Kinugawa is simple and mildly alkaline (tasteless, odorless and colorless) and is said to be effective in combating nerve and muscle pain, arthronosos, burns and chronic digestive diseases as well as for relieving fatigue. From the Greater Tokyo area to Kinugawa Onsen takes just two hours and many visitors make the short trip each year.

Kinugawa Onsen is home to three footbaths with "Kinuta-no-yu," located in the square in front of Kinugawa Station, free to use - so why not give your feet a soak?

Ryuokyo is a magnificent valley with a number of strange large rocks along its walls and is not too far from Kinugawa Onsen. A "shizen-kenkyuro" hiking trail takes in Ryuo Shrine and Nijimi-no-taki waterfall along with some breathtaking landscapes while other trails in the valley can be selected along lines of interest in nature and / or history.

The Kinugawa-rhine-kudari is a thrilling boat journey from Kinugawa Onsen to Otoro along a 6km stretch of river and taking around 40 minutes. (In operation from mid-April to mid-November)

Kinugawa Onsen is also close to the famed world heritage site of Nikko with its Toshogu Shrine, Kegon-no-taki Waterfall and Lake Chuzenji. Tobu World Square, Western Village and Edo Wonderland Nikko are other themed attractions nearby as is Nikko-sarugundan (monkey) Theater.


Links
Tourism Association of Kinugawa-Kawaji Hot Springs

有馬温泉
 Arima Onsen

Arima Onsen is believed to be the oldest surviving hot spring in Japan and is located on the north side of Mt. Rokko the cities of Kobe and Osaka lying on the southern side. According to local myth, in the days of prehistory two gods were visiting the area when they saw three injured crows bathing in a puddle. Over the course of a few days the crows recovered from their wounds, the gods took notice and the puddle was found to be a hot spring. Arima as an onsen town was born.

The specific water quality found in Arima varies but can largely be divided into two types: 'Kinsen,' (gold spring), and 'Ginsen,' (silver spring). The Kinsen water contains so much iron that towels left in the water for an extended period are actually dyed red. A level of salinity thrice that of regular sea water can also lead to bathers feeling as if they are floating on the water rather than being immersed in it. Ginsen on the other hand at first appears similar in form to plain tap water - transparent and colorless - although it does carry a number of beneficial side effects including an ability to improve blood flow and to aid in creating a healthy appetite.

Another form of bathing available here is 'Ashiyu,' - a footbath. A number of footbaths are located outside the hot spring building and along local roads to let locals as well as tourists soak their feet.

When done with the bathing of body or feet though, why not sample some Japanese refreshments? Soda pop - 'saidar' in Japanese but pronounced 'cider' is a non-alcoholic drink said to have originated in Arima. Another popular specialty is the 'tansan sembei' (carbonated cracker) - famous as a souvenir.

Arima can be accessed by either train or bus but if hiking appeals, why not build up a sweat and hike over Mt. Rokko? 'Totoyamichi,' once the transportation route taken by local fishmongers is today a popular hiking route connecting Ashiya Rock Garden with Arima Onsen.


Links
Arima Hot Springs Tourism Association

水上温泉
 Minakami Onsen

Minakami Onsen is located in northern Gunma Prefecture along the Tone River with the Tanigawa mountain range visible from the town. Mt. Tanigawa-dake is the most famous mountain in the range and as a favorite with many climbers has led to the town becoming something of a climbing base.

In the town itself, the Tone River is a hot spring area of breathtaking natural beauty long enjoyed by literary types including poets and novelists such as Akiko Yosano, Osamu Dazai, Bokusui Wakayama and Hakushu Kitahara.

In 1563 a Buddhist monk at Kenmei-ji Temple in the town was the first to notice the clouds of steam rising from the area around the bottom of the cliffs bordering the Tone River and upon taking a closer look noticed naturally heated water gushing from a cave halfway up the cliff face. Wanting to use this water to bless people in his services he then faced the predicament of how to transport the water away from the cave. Ingenuity came to his rescue however, as he filled cracks in the rocks with clay to create a smooth, watertight surface but when that failed, his prayers to Buddha coupled with the reciting of sutra led to him mixing small stones (on which he had written sutra texts) in with the clay to enable him to make a pipe of sorts Ð capable of carrying the liquid.

There is another anecdote concerning the origins of the hot spring though with some saying that 400-years-ago, a monk visiting the village saw the same clouds of steam from the same cliff by the river and over a period of 3 years piled up enough stones to create a kind of aqueduct-cum-pipe to transport the water to the village. Strangely, after achieving his goal one day in August, the monk vanished leaving only his straw sandals as proof of his existence.

Minakami Onsen is 2 hours from Tokyo on the Kan-etsu Highway or, by train, 1 h 20 mins on the Shinkansen Bullet train or 2 hours on regular JR limited express.


Links
Minakami Onsen Ryokan Association (Japanese Only)

那須温泉
 Nasu Onsen

Nasu is located in northern Tochigi, about 180 kilometers from Tokyo. Many onsen resorts dot the foot of the huge Nasu mountain ranges. Nasu is also well-known for housing the Imperial family's summer villa. Every season has its own charms: Azaleas in spring, peaceful farmland vistas and hiking on Mount Nasu-dake in the summer, coloured leaves in autumn and skiing then soaking in a bath while watching the snowfall in winter. Nasu Highlands are blessed with a beautiful natural environment.

Shin-Nasu Onsen, where the villa is located, Nasu-Yumoto Onsen, a center for hot spring resorts, and Daimaru Onsen, which is located at the back of the resort, are collectively known as Nasu Onsen. More well- known are the "Nasu Nanato" or "Seven Hot Springs of Nasu", comprised of "Shika-no-yu," "Takao," "Yawata," "Benten," "Kita," "Daimaru" and "Sando-goya" hot springs. Besides these seven, countless other hot springs can be found scattered around the base of Mount Chausu-dake, which is an active volcano that boasts an endless supply of water. The quality of the water varies, depending on the spring but most of them pride themselves on a long and rich history.

Shika-no-yu was named after a 1,300 year old legend that a deer, wounded by a hunter, soaked in the hot spring and was completely healed by the water. Daimaru Onsen was preferred by the then Lord Ozeki's family in the Edo-era and General Nogi in the Meiji-era. It is located at the second highest point of the 7 springs. Benten Onsen is located 1,200 meters above sea level on the side of Mount Nasu-dake. Water gushes from a rocky cavern and Benten (one of the Seven Deities of Good Fortune) is enshrined. As such, it is called Benten Onsen. Kita Onsen is said to have opened in 1696. Yawata Onsen is located in Yawatazaki and offers wonderful views of azaleas. Takao Onsen was renowned as a sacred spring in old times. Sando-koya Onsen is located 1,450 meters up the North face of Mount Chausu-dake. It is deep in the mountain and visitors have to climb the mountain to reach it.


Links
Nasu Onsen Ryokan Association (Japanese version only)

下呂温泉
 Gero Onsen

Gero Onsen is one of Japan's three finest hot springs along with Kusatsu and Arima and is located in Gero City, Gifu Prefecture. It is located in the center of the archipelago and is surrounded by the over 1,000 meter-high Hida mountain range. The area has a more than 1,000-year history as an old hot spring resort and is renowned for its therapeutic baths.

Legend says that a long time ago Gero hot spring was abundant with water, gaining popularity amongst the local people. However, all of a sudden the water completely stopped flowing from the source and this discouraged all the people in the village. One day then, an egret landed on the bank of Hida River and stood still day after day. A villager was so curious and he came to investigate and noticed that hot spring water was gushing out of the ground. The egret is thought to be the personification of Yakushi Nyorai the healing Buddha.

The transparent water retains a faint scent unique to this hot spring and the water feels silky to touch. The water from this spring is named "water of health" or "water of beauty" because it is said that the hot water promotes blood circulation, relieving fatigue and leaving the skin smooth.

Besides Gero Onsen, there are several other hot springs dotted around the town, such as Osaka Onsen-go, Mazegawa Onsen, Hidagawa Onsen. Yuya Onsen, one of the Osaka Onsen-go, is said to have medicinal effects in treating gastrointestinal disease when you drink the water from this hot spring. Depending on your schedule, you can easily plan an Onsen tour of the local area.

Fishing is also available year round along the Hida River with Ayu (sweet fish) and trout fishing competitions held every year, this attracts many tourists. To visit Gero Onsen hot spring town, take the JR Takayama Line train from Nagoya to Gero Station by limited express train. The journey is approximately one hour and a half by train.

Sightseeing Places around Gero
Shirakawa-go
UNESCO designated gassho-zukuri houses, or thatched-roof houses, in Shirakawa-go as a world heritage site in 1995. Approximately 110 of the houses still remain in the village. The houses unique architectural style was developed to protect buildings from heavy snowfalls in winter. The area boasts cherry blossoms in spring and picturesque snow covered scenery in winter. Traditional festivals like a rice-planting festival are also attracting locals and tourists alike. You can enjoy the local scenery and visit museums in the village.

From JR Gero Station to JR Takayama Station is approximately 1 hour by JR Takayama Line. From JR Takayama Station to Shirakawa-go is approximately 1 hour and 40 mins by Nohi bus. (Reservations are required).

Ukai on Nagara River
You can enjoy seeing Ukai (cormorant fishing), which has a 1,300-year old history, on Nagara River every night between May 11th and October 15th. The only exception is on nights of the harvest moon or when water levels are too high. Six boats float down the river at 7.30 pm, lighting the river with braziers on the bow of each boat. Twelve "u", which are cormorants are controlled by six fishermen that are dressed in traditional garb, the birds dive and catch Ayu (sweet fish) one after another then return to the boat and the fish are collected by their keepers.

From JR Gero Station to JR Gifu Station is approximately 1 hour and 30 mins or 2 hours by JR Takayama Line. From JR Gifu Station to Nagara-bashi stop is approximately 15 min by Gifu bus.

Takayama
Takayama retains an old atmosphere of the past. The town has been prospering as a merchant center of the Hida region in Gifu Prefecture since lord Kanamori Nagachika, who was a retainer of Toyotomi Hideyoshi (feudal warlord, 1537-1598), built the town. The Takayama Matsuri festival in spring and autumn is said to be one of the three most beautiful festivals in all of Japan. Morning markets also attract many tourists to the area.

From JR Gero Station to JR Takayama Station: approximately 1 hour by JR Takayama Line.

Gujo-hachiman
Gujo-hachiman prospered as a castle town in the 16th century and even today preserves the old streets with red lattices and stone pavements. Yoshida River, which is a branch of Nagara River, flows in the center of the town. Gujo Odori (Gujo Dance) has a 400-year history and is held on 32 nights in summer, attracting many people all over the country.

From JR Gero Station to JR Mino-ota Station is approximately 1 hour and 30 mins by JR Takayama Line. From Mino-ota Station to Gujo-hachiman Station: approximately 1 hour and 30 mins by Nagaragawa Tetsudo.


Links
Gero-Spa Ryokan's & Hotels association

湯布院温泉
 Yufuin Onsen

Located at the base of 1,584 meter high Mt. Yufu-dake, Yufuin Onsen invites approximately four million visitors a year to enjoy its abundant hot spring water. Yufuin Onsen is ranked to have the third richest volume of water in all of Japan, so is well established as an onsen town.

The Yufuin Onsen hot spring town is located on a 450 meter-high mountain area with scenic views in Yufu City, Oita Prefecture. In contrast to the neighboring Beppu Onsen - one of the biggest hot spring resorts in Japan, Yufuin Onsen is becoming popular for its relaxing atmosphere due to the spacious structure of the town. Its nickname "the backroom of Beppu" literally suggests the quiet and peaceful location surrounded by nature. Set in a neat configuration along Yunotsubo Kaido Avenue are many trendy shops, restaurants and museums, this attracts especially young ladies as visitors to Yufuin. Taking a tour via horse and carriage around the town is a fun activity.

Yufuin Onsen was actually designated as one of the "10 hot springs of Beppu" in the old days. However, through the change of administrative division brought about in the Taisho era (1912-1926), Yufuin Onsen became a hot spring town in its own right.

There are 852 sources that feed the hot springs in Yufuin and local people can enjoy bathing in Onsen water in their own homes. Many public baths stand in the town, which enables both tourists and locals soak, while refreshing their body and mind. The water has a medicinal effect on neuralgia, muscle ache, joint pain as well as a soothing effect on body.

To visit Yufuin hot spring town, take JR Express Train Yufu, which takes 2 hours and 10 minutes from Hakata Station, or 45 minutes transit time from Oita Station. Express buses are also available from Beppu Station with a 50 minute transit time.


Links
Yufuin Hot Spring Tourism Association

道後温泉
 Dogo Onsen

Located at the base of 1,584 meter high Mt. Yufu-dake, Yufuin Onsen invites approximately four million visitors a year to enjoy its abundant hot spring water. Yufuin Onsen is ranked to have the third richest volume of water in all of Japan, so is well established as an onsen town.

Dogo Onsen in Matsuyama City, Ehime Prefecture, has a long history and is one of the three oldest hot springs in Japan along with Arima Onsen in Hyogo Prefecture and Shirahma Onsen in Wakayama Prefecture. Dogo Onsen has attracted a number of imperial families, aristocrats and cultured people including successive Emperors since ancient times. Especially since Dogo-Onsen-Honkan was built in 1894, it became a more famous hot spring representative of the best in Japan. Dogo Onsen was depicted in the famous novel "Botchan" by Soseki Natsume (1867-1916), who was a great literary figure in that era. Soseki Natsume made Dogo Onsen more popular throughout Japan by featuring it in his novel.

The wooden three-storied Dogo-Onsen-Honkan was designated as a nationally important cultural property. A clock in Shinrokaku, which is a small tower on the roof, strikes three times a day in the morning, noon and evening respectively. There is the "Kami-no-yu" bath on the first floor, the "Tama-no-yu" bath and relaxation area for those who bathe in both baths are on the second floor. On the third floor, there are private rooms for users of "Tama-no-yu" bath and "Botchan-no-ma," which is a room associated with Soseki Natsume the great literary figure. Seeing the room is available on request.

The town of Dogo Onsen has a lot of Onsen-ryokan, which are Japanese-style hotels with hot spring baths, and other hotels, centered on Dogo-Onsen-Honkan. The L-shaped Dogo shopping mall stretches from Dogo-Onsen-Honkan to the street-car Dogo-onsen Station. Souvenir shops and restaurants line the mall and a public bathhouse "Tsubaki-no-yu" is at the intersection of the L-shaped mall. It is a white-walled, storehouse-style building and creates a different atmosphere from that of Dogo-Onsen-Honkan which was constructed in a wooden castle-style design. You can enjoy seeing a karakuri-dokei, which is a gadget clock, and a bathtub which was used in the Meiji-era (1867-1912) in Hojoen, a small park in front of Dogo-onsen Station. Also you have the chance to soak your feet in a foot-bath in the park.


Links
Dogo Onsen Ryokan Association (Japanese version only)

熱海温泉
 Atami Onsen

Do you know about the historical figure Tokugawa Ieyasu? He established the Edo shogunate which continued some 270 years from 1603, and he was the founding shogun. One of the things he liked most was Atami Onsen hot spring resort.

Atami Onsen has a 1,500 year history and is located to the southeast of Japan’s most famous mountain, Mount Fuji, and near the Pacific Ocean. “Atami (熱海)” literally means “hot sea,” which name is derived from a folk tale that hot water gushed out from the sea and heated the sea water in this area. Atami has flourished together with the hot springs and now attracts as many as 3.5 million tourists a year. After the Meiji Restoration (1868), political leaders came to discuss affairs of state and ministerial meetings took place here. A great number of writers have visited and written about Atami in their novels. Among such novels, in particular “Konjiki-yasha,” written by novelist Koyo Ozaki (1868-1903), featured Atami and enhanced its fame.

The quantity of the water is ample and there remain plenty of old hot springs. You can make an “onsen-egg” for yourself at Ozawa-no-yu. This is a boiled egg using spouting steam. Please prepare your own eggs, which can be bought at shops nearby. There is a foot bath, Ieyasu-no-yu, in front of Atami Station. Sea bathing at the beach, where palm trees line the shore, is fun in summer and walking on the beach is also enjoyable even in winter. Firework festivals are regularly held from summer to winter.

Atami Baien (Japanese apricot garden) is well known for apricot flowers and autumn leaves. Some 730 apricot trees of 64 kinds have been much loved by huge numbers of people since the garden’s opening 120 years ago. Hatsushima, an island 25 minutes away by high-speed boat from Atami, has become popular in recent years as an isolated island that is the closest to Tokyo. Visitors can enjoy several hundred varieties of subtropical plants and shopping at Hatsushima Island Resort. You will feel at home in the relaxed atmosphere of the slow-mode island, without taxis and convenience stores.

If you are interested in Japanese traditional art, why don’t you visit Atami Kenban Kaburenjo? The Kaburenjo, where geigi (geisha) undergo rigorous training, is open to the public every Saturday and visitors can watch dance and other performances. After the show, you can talk and take pictures with the geigi.

It is said that Tokugawa Ieyasu ordered that water be transported to Edo (now Tokyo) where he lived because he favored the waters of Atami so much. Nowadays, it takes just 50 minutes by Tokaido Shinkansen bullet train from Tokyo. Please enjoy a day-trip or stay overnight at an onsen hotel.


Links
Atami Hot Spring Ryokan and Hotel Association

登別温泉
 Noboribetsu Onsen

Hokkaido is blessed with a number of onsen hot springs and one of the most famous places for onsen in Japan. Noboribetsu onsen is a representative of hot springs in Hokkaido and always ranks high in many popularity rankings of onsen in Japan,. Surrounded by mountains, there are many hotels and ryokan. The word Noboribetsu derives from the language of Ainu, who is a native in Hokkaido, meaning “a white murky river or a dark river,” which indicates that affluent hot springs have gushed since a long time ago to the extent the color of the river changes. Some document already wrote that an inn was built in Noboribetsu onsen as early as in the 19th century. Since then, it has prospered as a spa for medical purposes and also for amusement.

Jigokudani, literally meaning a hell valley, at the back of the spa town is an explosion crater of volcanic mountain Kuttara. With gushing hot water, a cloud of steam and volcanic gas, the area is full of intense smell of sulfur. Landscapes with bare mountain surfaces are just like Hell. About two thirds amount of water used in Noboribetu onsen town is flumed from Jigokudani. Depending on sources, quality and temperature of water is different.

A hot spring resort with a variety of water quality is rare in the world and Noboribotsu onsen is called “a department store of onsen.” There are sulfur springs, salt springs, alum springs, to name just a few. Each water has various effects, for example, for heart disease, high blood pressure, chronic arthritis, dermatitis, bruise, female disorders, neuralgia, low back pain, skin care and others.

There are Noboribetsu Bear Park, which is the largest bear parks in the world with some 120 brown bears, theme park Noboribetsu Date Jidaimura and other attractive places are nearby.


Links
Noboribetsu City

伊香保温泉
 Ikaho Onsen

The Ikaho Onsen (hot spring), which was established 1,900 years ago, has been favored by a great number of novelists and artists.
The name “Ikaho Onsen” is found in the Man-yoshu (The Anthology of Myriad Leaves), which is Japan’s oldest existing anthology of poetry, completed in the 8th century. Warriors visited Ikaho Onsen during the Civil War period in the 16th century while worldly-wise novelists and artists, attracted by the spa’s atmosphere and picturesque landscapes, have been enjoying long-term breaks here since the Meiji period ( beginning 1868) . Even today, many people visit repeatedly from all around the country to appreciate its charms.

Walk up 360 flights of stone steps wearing a yukata, along a street that overflows with onsen atmosphere.
Winding stone steps continue for some 300 meters from the entrance of the spa town. Ryokan (Japanese-style hotels), souvenir shops, food shops selling buns (which are Ikaho’s specialty), and traditional game shops are lined along the steps. At the top of the steps is Ikaho Shrine. The spa’s water source is located behind the shrine. Visitors can leisurely soak in an open-air bathing facility nearby, which is said to bless the bather with offspring . The stone steps are located in the center of Ikaho Onsen spa town. It’s fun to stroll about town wearing a yukata, or cotton kimono, and wooden clogs, which you can rent at ryokan . If you make a reservation in advance, you can invite geisha , wh o provide a traditional form of entertainment in Japan’s hot spring towns.

Kakaa denka: landladies run the ryokan at Ikaho Onsen.
Gunma Prefecture, including Ikaho Onsen, is famous for women of strong character who support their families and communities, and it is often said that the women wear the trousers in Gunma homes. The landladies of ryokan are no exception, and they underpin the town. They plan various events from time to time. When you stay at a ryokan, a landlady wear ing a kimono will welcome you ; this is another enjoyable aspect of visiting Ikaho.

Yumeguri : if you stay at one ryokan, you can see other ryokan the next day.
You can see other ryokan in Ikaho Onsen town between 10 am and 2 pm ; just ask at each front desk. If you get a stamp at each ryokan and collect seven stamps of different colors, you will be given a gift. Why not investigate the qualities of each ryokan in this historical hot spring resort?

Sightseeing spots
Lake Haruna, where you can enjoy the landscape and hiking, is not far from Ikaho Onsen by car. Mount Haruna looks like Mount Fuji and is also called Haruna-Fuji. There are golf courses and ranches nearby. In Ikaho Town, you can enjoy trekking in Prefectural Ikaho Sinrin Park, and modern Japanese art can be seen at Takehisa Yumeji Ikaho Kinenkan (Memorial Museum), which comprises eight buildings and a garden built during the Taisho era (1912-1926) .

Mizusawa udon noodles: one of the three most famous noodle varieties in Japan
Take a trip to Mizusawa Kannon by shuttle bus and enjoy eating Mizusawa udon noodles . Mizusawa noodles, made from local wheat, have been a famous local food in the temple town of Mizusawa Kannon Temple for 400 years . These noodles are rather thin and hard, and are best eaten cold.

Three hours from Shinjuku, Tokyo, by express bus.
Express bus (Joshu-yumeguri-go) from Shinuku bus terminal is convenient for traveling from Tokyo to Ikaho. There are nine services a day, and a one-way ticket is 2,300 yen.
Tel: 03-3844-1950

For more information about golf courses, ranches nearby sightseeing spots and local flower information, please contact Ikaho Onsen Ryokan Kyodo Kumiai.
http://www.hotels-ikaho.or.jp/
Tel:0279-72-3136


Links
Ikaho Onsen Ryokan Association (Japanese only)

How to bathe in an Onsen:

You've finally made it to the hotspring. But how do you go about making use of it? Above all, you should never forget to observe the manners and etiquette needed throughout. Here are some important rules to guide you through your first onsen experience - a primer to the laws of the onsen:

1 First of all you will have to completely undress. Clothes are to be taken off in the dressing room (known as the datsui-jo in Japanese). Other than your birthday suit, you may bring one small towel or washcloth to the bathing area for washing with. Do not make the mistake of changing into and going in your bathing suit! It is not allowed.

2 Once in the bathing area, rinse off with hot water before getting into the onsen. At some places there will be a stone tub by the entrance, at others you may be able to wash with soap, bucket and tap, and at some you will have to take the water directly from the onsen itself (In Japanese this is called kakeh-yu). Kakeh-yu can be done with a small bowl or bucket (sometimes with a handle). Hot water is drawn from the tub or tap and poured over the entire body to rinse thoroughly. This is considered one of the most important of onsen manners.

3 After you have completely rinsed, it's time to get into the hot tub. It's best to get in slowly at first (just up to your chest). Get in slowly up to your knees, then up to your waist, followed by chest, then neck. In doing so your body will slowly get used to the water. Do not put the towel into the water temperature. You may see people fold and put it on their heads, now you know why - it doesn't belong in the water. You may also put it on the side of the tub.

4 One dip is usually no more than 10 minutes. As there are mineral elements in the water, longer exposure is not only relaxing, but allows the body to soak up more of those minerals. Getting in at least 2 to 3 times a day is reasonable.

5 Where tap and washing stalls are available, switching from wash stall to tub and back is up to you. Do so at will. Never bring the soap or suds into the tub!

6 Some hot springs provide more than one tub, such as the rotenburo (outdoor onsen). Switching from bath to bath may also be done freely.

7 When your body is hot and you are totally relaxed, taking a shower is entirely up to you, although may be a waste of the onsen's mineral healing properties. Leaving them on may be better for your skin.

8 Once out of the onsen, dry off with a towel. Taking a nap is effective; bathing in a hotspring takes quite some physical energy.

The Way of the Bath

Onsen is not just good for the mineral qualities of the spring, some establishments provide a variety of bathing facilities. Proper use depends on the temperature or nature of these facilities. But the rules are not strict, they can only be presented as suggestions. Finding the best way to use the facilities is a matter of personal preference. Find the way that's right for you.

1. The waterfall. A thick beam of water from a spout high above pounds down into the bath below. The bather under this waterfall, positions their acheing shoulders right in the water's path. Don't do this for too long. The benefits could become harmful.

2. Rinsing before bathing. Jumping into the bath without first getting used to the temperature is a good way to get a heart attack. Before getting in to the onsen, be sure to rinse completely with hot water that is about the same temperature. Take your time.

 

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