Hot springs in Japan are called onsen, and spending some time at the hot springs is one of the best ways to relax and unwind. You have plenty of choice – there are over 3,000 hot springs all over the country, and we have narrowed this down to a list of just 11 of the best hot springs in Japan.
Relaxing in the hot springs is a popular and very accessible way to wind down in Japan. Onsen are also used as a chance to socialize, and also to get closer to nature in many cases. Onsen are located all over Japan, in the countryside, next to rivers like in the town of Hakone, in towns and cities, and in hotels and spas. Here are a few of the places you can experience an onsen – try it and you’ll have an experience you will never forget!
1) Ōedo Onsen Monogatari in Tokyo
This impressive hot springs is situated on an artificial island in the middle of Tokyo Bay. Here you will find not just hot springs and some outdoor onsen tubs, but also relaxation rooms, shops, massage facilities, and a spa. There is enough here to do to spend the whole day.
2) Jinata Onsen in Shikine-jima, Izu-shotō
The island of Shikine-jima is just a few hours from the capital city by ferry. In this hot springs you have a setting of natural seashore rocks and can watch the waves on the ocean as you relax in the onsen.
3) Kurama Onsen in Kurama Near Kyoto
Take the train for half an hour from the city of Kyoto and you will come to the village of Kurama. This village is a great one for experiencing a countryside onsen without having to travel miles. Although you can expand the experience by hiking to Kurama from the next village, using the mountain pass.
4) Takaragawa Onsen in Gunma, Central Honshū
‘Takaragawa’ is the name for “treasure river” in Japanese and this onsen is one of the best in the whole of Japan. It is located alongside a wonderful riverbank and is composed of a number of different pools with slate bases. These pools are ideal for contemplating the river and there are mixed and ladies-only pools.
5) Onsens in Kinosaki, Kansai
Kinosaki is a small town that is best known for its hot springs. It has many different public hot springs baths as well as private ryokan – hotels where you can also experience a hot springs. It is in this town that you can really experience the joy of onsen, moving from one to another and then rounding off the day with a great meal.
6) Dogo Onsen in Matsuyama City
This hot springs is said to be the oldest onsen in the country. There has been a bathhouse here for thousands of years, although the current building was constructed in 1894. There are main baths, and even special VIP baths for royalty!
7) Sawada-kōen Rotemburo Onsen in Dōgashima, Izu-hantō
This onsen is the ideal one for you when you love to check out an amazing view while bathing. The simple structure overlooks the Pacific Ocean and it is the perfect place to bathe while you watch the sun setting over the sea.
8) Kinosaki Onsen in Hyogo Prefecture
This is another beautiful onsen town set in the southwest of the country. There have been hot springs here since the eighth century and you can stay in a range of traditional inns and enjoy many different onsen. It is a beautiful place next to both the ocean and the mountains.
9) Lamp no Yado Onsen in Noto-hantō, Honshū
This is an isolated yet very popular hot springs location for curing your ailments and relaxing in stunning surroundings. You can get as far as the edge of the peninsula but then you have to walk down the hill by foot. When you reach the onsen you can stay in a room overlooking the Sea of Japan and enjoy a truly relaxing experience.
10) Jigokudani Monkey Park Hot Springs
You have probably seen the photos of the snow monkeys bathing in the waters in this iconic location. You cannot bathe with the monkeys in their onsen, but there are plenty of baths for humans in the town. You have to check out this place if you love Japan and hot springs.
11) Urami-ga-taki Onsen in Hachijō-jima
Izu-shotō is a prefecture located in the semi-tropical jungle. Here you will find a tiny onsen which is right beside a waterfall in the jungle. This onsen is a wonderful place to relax deep in the heart of nature, and the scenery is just stunning. This is indeed one of the best hot springs in Japan.
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