Popular Onsen towns in Japan
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Owing to its geographic location within a volcanic zone, Japan is home to over 3000 Onsen and more than 27,000 natural hot spring resorts equipped with amenities. The name Onsen is Japanese for hot spring and the country is ranked number in the world for its unique mineral hot spring bathing traditions. Every onsen resort in Japan has different types of minerals with different medical benefits. Hot springs and bathing are Japanese affairs that are entangled deep in the country’s culture, so before you visit these towns, it is a good idea to brush up on some dos and don’ts. But that is a story for another day.
In this post, we are going to share with you the 10 best Onsen Town in Japan. Read and find which one is your favorite.
Kinosaki Onsen, Hyogo
Located in the northern part of Hyogo, Kinosaki is one of the best and most popular Onsen places to visit in Japan. This Onsen town became famous for its seven public hot springs called ‘sotoyu’. Visitors of Kinosaki admire the beautiful scenery and the friendly locals that welcome’s every visitor dressed in a traditional cotton robe called Yukata.
Apart from the seven public hot springs, most of the ryokan and hotels in the hot spring village have their private onsen exclusively available for their guests.
Beppu Onsen, Kyushu
Second on our list is one of the most well-known hot spring towns in Japan, Beppu. The resort is famous thanks to its peculiar bathing treatments. Beppu is found on the island of Kyushu, southern Japan, an area with high concentration and diverse volcanic hot springs.
The spa treatment involves being buried up to your chin in a huge ditch of hot volcanic sand. As you sweat from the warm sand. The toxins from your body are flushed out, leaving you cleansed and rejuvenated and have a feeling like you have just had a full body massage.
Beppu is among the oldest Onsen towns in Japan and its setting, between Beppu Bay and mountains, makes it a nice place to explore.
The hot springs in this resort are classed into eight areas – Beppu, Kannawa, Myoban, Hamawaki, and Kankaiji, and are collectively known as Beppu Hatto.
Yunomine Onsen, Wakayama
Wakayama prefecture is one of the most naturally beautiful areas in Japan. The Yunomine Onsen offers visitors a chance to explore a little deeper past the just the concrete jungle and into the natural splendor of the region. Wakayama prefecture is known for its natural mountainscapes, the famous Kumano Kodo hike trail, and rugged beaches.
All these beauties are there to be explored, and once you are done, you can make a stop at Yunomine Onsen.
This onsen town is one of the most picturesque in the country is known to be home to some of the oldest warm baths in Japan.
The moment you step your feet in the town, you will immediately feel the onsen culture here, with steam lazily wafting out via bunches of run-down wooden bathhouses and stream of hot water running through the town center.
Dogo Onsen, Ehime
Dogo Onsen is located in the sleepy town of Ehime on the island of Shikoku. While it is not as popular as other hot springs in Japan, the bath is so charming that it inspired the makers of anime film Spirited Away.
The town has been one of the go-to destinations for many locals for so long seeking for an alternative place to soak and heal.
The centerpiece of Dogo Onsen is its multi-leveled bathhouse, which also featured in the famous film.
Kusatsu Onsen, Gunma
Located in the remote areas of Gunma prefecture, this onsen town is ideal for a weekend getaway from the fast-paced Tokyo. It is connected to the capital by train, which takes around three and a half hours.
The setting of Kusastu couldn’t be magical. Nestled up some 4000 feet about sea level, this laidback town is more exceptional in winter.
Imagine taking a hot bath in the cold of winter with snow settling around the warm spring pools.
We recommend soaking your tiredness away after enjoying some skiing in the nearby slops.
Noboribetsu Onsen, Hokkaido
The island of Hokkaido in the north of Japan is where you will find this onsen town, Noboribetsu. The town is known for its diverse hot spring baths, including the awe-inspiring Jigokudani, or Hell Valley as it’s famously known in Japan.
Hell Valley is a rugged rocky area covered in hot spring vents as well as an extraordinary Sulphur-caked rock that is unmistakable.
Another centerpiece in the region is Oyunuma, which is where you can find Oyunumagawa, a hot water river. This area is usually stunning during autumn when the vegetation along the river banks turns into flaming shades of orange, red, and gold.
Kurokawa Onsen, Kyushu
The second Onsen town on the island of Kyushu, if you want an alternative to Beppu, Kurokawa Onsen is a great option.
The onsen is located around 20 kilometers north of Mount Aso, one of several active volcanos on the island with a moon-like surface.
The town is covered with lush green vegetation that changes in color with every passing season.
The small pathways in the town are filled with bathhouses, traditional ryokan inns, and several shops.
Nyuto Onsen, Akita
Nyuto Onsen is a picturesque town located in the hilly regions in eastern Akita prefecture. It is the best onsen resort for luxury travelers and those that want something extraordinary and different from the normal hot string towns. The onsen features eight stylish classic ryokan inns, which are each equipped with distinctive bathing facilities including bathhouses for non-staying visitors for a small fee.
Nyuto Onsen actually means “nipple hot spring” in English. A name inspired by the silhouette of Mount Nyuto in the background.
Atami Onsen, Shizuoka
Located along the Pacific Ocean, Atami is a beach and an onsen town that is known in Japan for its lively fireworks exhibits throughout the year. It is easily accessed from the capital by a one-hour high-speed train – Shinkansen.
The onsen also has great places for visitors including the Atami Sex Museum, Atami Trick Art Museum, and Bunko, a Hitler museum.
Zao Onsen, Yamagata
Though Zao is famous for its skiing facilities and imposing snow monsters, it is also a fine hot spring bath town. It is situated in the hilly region of Yamagata prefecture, around 2900 feet above sea level, and has arguably the most acidic waters in Japan. Nevertheless, the waters have been found to be a perfect cure for tiredness and muscle pains.
Gero Onsen, Gifu
Gero Onsen is located a few kilometers from Takayama. It is considered one of the best onsens in the country and includes three ryokan inns for non-staying guests.