5 must-visit hot springs in Japan

photo by David McKelvey

Japan has many natural resources that double as tourist attractions, but none are more popular than hot springs, the famous Japanese onsen. Onsen are not the kind of travel destinations that only foreigners seek out – they are actually the holiday spot of choice of many Japanese who want to kick back and relax. Relaxation is the key word when it comes to hot springs, and when you are in Japan there is no better way to enjoy the famous Japanese hospitality. Unlike hot springs in other parts of the world, many of which are very moderns and function as spas, Japanese traditional hot springs focus on traditional values. Lodge in traditional inns, soak in the hot water and then treat yourself to a delicious meal. Here are 5 must-visit hot springs in Japan where you can do just that.

Atami, Shizuoka

The city of Atami in Shizuoka Prefecture virtually revolves around the onsen industry, and there’s no better place in Japan to experience the famous hot springs. In Atami, there is a lot of variety when it comes to inns, hotels and resorts. The hot springs at Atami have been used for the past 1000 years, and there is little surprise that it is one of the 5 must-visit hot springs in Japan.

Dogo Onsen, Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture

Dogo Onsen, photo by Lisa Pinehill

The city of Matsuyama is a wonderful destination for those who want to soak up as much as possible of Japanese culture and history, because it is not only home to one of the most beautiful castles in Japan, but also one of the most popular hot springs in the country. Dogo onsen is one of the oldest hot springs in Japan, and the public bath house that you can see today is over a century old and very picturesque. The baths tend to be rather crowded before dinner, but they have a pleasant old-time atmosphere.

Yumoto, Nikko National Park,

The small town of Yumoto in Nikko National Park exists solely because of the lovely hot springs around which it was built. The town is surrounded by thick forests and it is located on the shores of Lake Yunoko. If you want to stay at a traditional Japanese inn (ryokan), the town of Yumoto is the best choice on all accounts. The ryokans offer hot baths and traditional rooms with delicious meals included.

Kinugawa, Tochigi Prefecture

photo by EverJean on Flickr

Kinugawa has been a popular onsen town since the Meiji era, and for decades, Tokyoites who become tired of city life retreat to Kinugawa to kick back and relax. Kinugawa has countless traditional inns, hotels and pensions, and the hot springs are not its only attraction. The famous Kinugawa Theme Park, actually made up of three separate parks, is a huge draw for Japanese travelers.

Kusatsu, Gunma Prefecture

Kusatsu is one of the most beloved hot spring resorts in the Kanto region. The spring water in Kusatsu is said to have so many health benefits that it can cure everything except for love sickness. The great quality of the water and the high number of ryokans and hotels in Kusatsu attract thousands of visitors. The most popular onsen is Yubatake, but there are another hundred hot springs that you might want to check out.

Leave a Reply