The 11 Best Hot Spring Destinations in Japan


Hakone-Yumoto Onsen (箱根湯本温泉) – Kanagawa

Hakone is one of the most famous hot spring resorts in Japan with a history of 1,200 years. Hakone-Yumoto is the gateway to Hakone and is the oldest of the Hakone hot spring resorts. It is easily accessible from Tokyo and is dotted with tourist attractions, so it is crowded with many people all year round.

In addition to long-established onsen ryokans recommended for a relaxing stay, Hakone-Yumoto also has day-trip onsen that can be easily used. The Odakyu Romance Car takes only 85 minutes from Shinjuku, Tokyo, making it an enjoyable location for a day trip. Souvenir shops are lined up around the station, giving visitors a travel feel.

Atami Onsen (熱海温泉) – Shizuoka

Atami is one of the most famous hot spring resorts in Japan, located on the eastern fringe of the Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka Prefecture. From the coastline to the mountains, modern hotels, inns, and souvenir shops line the streets, creating a major entertainment district. The mix of a retro atmosphere reminiscent of history and fashionable spots that have been established in recent years is also an attraction. At the end of a relaxing day, you can enjoy the night view and fireworks, relaxing both body and soul.

Atami Station is a Shinkansen bullet train stop, making it easily accessible and popular for easy travel.

Nasu Onsen (那須温泉) – Tochigi

Shika no yu (鹿の湯)

Nasu is an area rich in nature, symbolized by its hot springs and Imperial Villa, where you can spend a relaxing and tranquil time. In addition, there are many other places where you can interact with animals, try your hand at making things, and visit attractive art spots. The location is easily accessible from central Tokyo, so you can go out for a weekend as soon as you feel like it.

Nasu Onsen resort is the generic name for a group of hot springs scattered along the mountainside of “Mt. Chausu,” an active volcano that rises in the northwestern part of Nasu-machi, Tochigi Prefecture and represents the Kanto region. It is also known as the oldest hot spring resort in Tochigi Prefecture, and the “Shika-no-yu” public bathhouse, which boasts a history of over 1,300 years, is still crowded with bathers as a symbolic presence in the hot spring resort.

The baths are divided into six levels, from 41°C to 48°C, and you can choose the bathtub with the temperature you prefer. (There is no 48°C in the women’s bath.) The wooden bathhouse has a nice atmosphere, and the hot water is good for the body due to its strong sulfur content. The use of soap and shampoo is prohibited because the sulfur spring water makes it difficult for soap and shampoo to lather, and because of the associated risk of slipping and sliding in the bathhouse.

Kinugawa Onsen (鬼怒川温泉) – Tochigi

Kinugawa Onsen is a hot spring resort with one of the most beautiful valleys in the Kanto region. Discovered in the Edo period (1603-1868), it is said that only Buddhist monks and feudal lords on pilgrimages to Nikko were allowed to enter this historic hot spring. Since it was opened to the public in the Meiji period (1868-1912), it has attracted many tourists and is popular as one of the largest hot spring resorts in the Kanto region, with inns and hotels lining the Kinugawa River valley. The water is an alkaline simple hot spring that is said to be effective in relieving neuralgia and fatigue and improving health, and is soft and gentle on the skin.

From the hot spring resort area across the Kinugawa River valley, there are many hot spring inns with rooms overlooking beautiful and spectacular views and an abundance of hot spring water. There are also many attractive leisure facilities and other attractions nearby, such as Edo Wonderland Nikko Edomura and Tobu World Square, which are especially crowded with families and groups of visitors in summer.

Kusatsu Onsen (草津温泉) – Gunma

Kusatsu Onsen is a popular hot spring tourist destination that has been ranked No. 1 in hot spring spa rankings. Visitors can feel the power of the earth at Yubatake (“hot water filed”: one of the main sources of hot spring water in Kusatsu Onsen), where you can feel the hot spring atmosphere. Visitors can also stroll around the hot spring town centered on Yubatake and experience the unique hot spring culture. Legends of the discovery of the hot spring by historical figures such as Yamatotakeru no Mikoto (Prince Yamatotakeru) and Shogun Minamoto no Yoritomo are believed, making this a hot spring with a long history.

The output of natural hot spring water is the largest in Japan, and its amount is equivalent to about 230,000 drums of water in one day. This is the very reason why you can enjoy “natural hot spring water flowing directly from the source” in the accommodations and hot springs of Kusatsu Onsen.

The hot spring water of Kusatsu Onsen is so wonderful that it is said to cure any disease except love sickness. The highly acidic nature of the spring is characterized by its excellent sterilizing and anti-inflammatory properties.

Ikaho Onsen (伊香保温泉) – Gunma

Ikaho Onsen has long been known as a famous hot spring. The hot spring resort is located on Mount Haruna, about 700 meters above sea level in Gunma Prefecture.

During the Edo period (1603-1868), travel to Ikaho Onsen was so booming that a Sekisho (checkpoint) was built in response to the increase in the number of visitors to the hot-spring. After the Meiji era (1868-1912), the place was also loved by many cultural figures.

There are several options for access, but we recommend this hot spring resort because it is only two to three hours from central Tokyo by train or bus.

Dogo Onsen (道後温泉) – Ehime

Dogo Onsen, one of the best hot spring resorts in Ehime Prefecture, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ehime, attracting 700,000 tourists a year. Among the Dogo Hot Springs, the Dogo Onsen Honkan, an atmospheric castle-style, three-story wooden building, has been designated a National Important Cultural Property, and the best part is that you can bathe in an important cultural property.

Dogo Onsen is a well-known spot as the oldest hot spring in Japan with a history of 3,000 years, mentioned in Kojiki, the oldest book of Japanese history, and Manyoshu, Japan’s oldest anthology of poetry, and many famous historical figures such as Prince Shotoku, Natsume Soseki, and Masaoka Shiki have taken a bath there. Located in the center of Matsuyama City, Ehime Prefecture, it is also popular for its easy access from both the airport and the station.

Next to the Dogo Onsen Honkan is a shopping street called “Dogo Haikara Dori,” lined with souvenir stores and restaurants, where visitors can enjoy shopping in yukata after getting out of the hot springs.

Beppu Onsen (別府温泉) – Oita

Beppu City in Oita Prefecture is a hot spring wonderland with eight hot spring resorts in the small city. Beppu’s unique attraction is the sight of steam rising from every corner of the city.

There are eight representative hot spring resorts called “Beppu Hatto,” each with different qualities and characteristics, so you can enjoy a tour of the hot springs within Beppu City alone. There are various ways to enjoy the hot springs, so you can take your time and relax in one place, or enjoy a variety of hot springs at once, depending on your travel plans.

Many of the public hot springs are inexpensive, and there are also numerous free footbaths scattered throughout the area. Enjoy a wellness trip in a hot spring!

Jozankei Onsen (定山渓温泉) – Hokkaido

Located in Minami Ward, a short distance from central Sapporo, Jozankei Onsen is one of the largest and most popular hot spring resorts in Hokkaido. Located within the Shikotsu-Toya National Park, Jozankei Onsen is recommended for those who wish to relax and relieve their fatigue in a rich natural setting. The hot spring water that bubbles up in Jozankei Onsen Town is a clear, colorless, salty sodium chloride spring that warms the body from the core, as the salt content prevents evaporation of sweat.

There are paved walking paths around the hot spring resort area, which are perfect for strolling while taking in the fresh air. The area also offers the best view of the autumn leaves in fall and snowy landscape in winter.

Ginzan Onsen (銀山温泉) – Yamagata

Ginzan Onsen is a popular hot spring spot in Yamagata. Ginzan Onsen is characterized by the Taisho-romantic atmosphere of the hot spring village, which makes visitors feel as if they have stepped back in time. After dark, the hot spring resort is lit by gas lamps, making it even more romantic. The atmosphere is like that of the setting of the movie “Spirited Away,” and is very popular among visitors.

Western-style multi-storey wooden inns built between the late Taisho and early Showa eras line the banks of the Ginzan River, and each inn has its own unique atmosphere. Public bathhouses and footbaths add to the enjoyment of strolling through the area.

Although it is a hidden gem onsen destination covered with deep snow in winter, it is conveniently located just 3 hours from Tokyo on the Yamagata Shinkansen bullet train + 40 minutes by direct bus. The snow-viewing open-air baths that can be enjoyed only in Ginzan Onsen, located in an area with heavy snowfall, are also a point of interest.

Kurokawa Onsen (黒川温泉) – Kumamoto

Kurokawa Onsen in Kumamoto Prefecture has become one of the most popular tourist destinations not only in Kyushu region but also in Japan today. It is located in a quiet area of Kumamoto Prefecture, at an altitude of 700 meters above sea level, where the original Japanese landscape remains. Kurokawa Onsen considers the entire landscape of the hot spring resort as a single ryokan, with the pathways as corridors and each of the 30 inns as a guest room, under the concept of “Kurokawa Onsen Ichi Ryokan”.

Kurokawa Onsen is famous for its open-air baths, and the standard style is to visit the baths in geta (Japanese wooden clogs) and yukata after obtaining a “bathing bill,” which allows you to visit three hot springs of your choice for 1,300 yen. With a map in hand, visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll through the town, which is lined with restaurants and eateries. Kurokawa Onsen offers a wide variety of spring qualities, so you can choose the one that suits your skin best, and still be sure to enjoy the benefits of the hot spring.

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