Nagasaki Onsen Yasuragi Ioujima Resort Hotel

Get yourself pampered with some of the best hot springs, food and sights that Nagasaki has to offer

Nagasaki Onsen Yasuragi Ioujima Resort Hotel is located on an island facing the sea of Nagasaki and is surrounded by picturesque ocean views. Only a 30-50 minute drive away from Nagasaki Station, it is also accessible from various tourist spots in Nagasaki.

Sunset view
Sunset view
This sprawling resort complex is facilitated with four different kinds of hotels, two natural hot springs, and a plethora of different dining options.

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Enjoy the superb panoramic views from open-air baths.
Enjoy superb panoramic views from the open-air baths.
Cuisine is also a big draw here since Nagasaki specialty seafood and meats are available at the Japanese and buffet restaurants. The summer barbecue and other dining options ensure that everybody’s tastes are met.

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You will never run out of things to do either. Getting tired of their extensive hot spring and sports facilities? Swim at the beach during summer or rent a bicycle to go around. Get a guided tour of iconic Gunkanjima, or take a taxi tour to see the night view of Nagasaki, one of the best night views in the world.

Gunkanjima
Gunkanjima
Accessible, comfortable and downright beautiful, all in all this resort offers the best package to give you a relaxing and healing vacation.

Information

Nagasaki Onsen Yasuragi Ioujima
Location: 1-3277-7 Ioujima-machi Nagasaki City, Nagasaki, Japan 851-1201
Access: About 40 min. by free shuttle bus from Nagasaki Station (reservations required)
URL: http://www.ioujima.jp/en/

Nishiyama, the secret hot spring of gods and champions

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Tucked away in the Fukushima countryside, perhaps it’s no surprise that this hot spring and traditional Japanese inn is overlooked by many people. But it is a crying shame, as – apart from the stunning natural beauty that is Fukushima – the atmosphere of this place is very peaceful and a long way away from the hot springs in the cities.

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As I sit here writing this article, I can hear nothing but the chirping of birds and rushing water from the river and waterfall outside my room. Voted number five for “Best Spring Quality” by Gunji Isamu, the onsen champion with experience of seven thousand five hundred hot springs to his credit, it’s easy to see why this hidden gem of Fukushima should be on the to-go list of anyone looking for a real hot spring experience.

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Nishiyama was built in the year 717, shortly after the start of the Nara period (AD 710 to 794) of Japanese history. It’s said that bathing in each one of the onsens here will cure the visitor of any disease. This is why Nishiyama hot springs often referred to as kami no onsen, or “the hot springs of the gods”. The hot springs themselves are spaced out and some are hard to find (despite planning to try three, I was only able to locate two in the short time I was there!) There is supposedly a hot spring with a shrine in it, but I never managed to find it. While there are plenty of signs, visitors should be aware that these are all in Japanese.

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This is the first bath I visited. Visitors should be aware that the middle one is quite a bit hotter than the other two, although not hot enough to pose a problem. The baths themselves are quite small but large enough to accommodate two or three people comfortably.

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The other hot spring I visited was this one. This has a much larger bath as well as an outdoor one in beautiful scenery. Both are lovely but considerably hotter than the first, and the outdoor one was so hot that I was only able to stay in for a few minutes. It might be best to leave this one for winter! There is another outdoor spring in the ryokan itself with a stunning view of the waterfall. This is mixed bathing, but for those of you who might be a little embarrassed, 7-9pm is for women only.

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The accommodation is very good, and the landlady Kaneko Sanae is pleasant and speaks reasonable English, so the language barrier won’t be a problem. The rooms are clean and airy as well as quiet. There is air conditioning, but with both windows open I didn’t feel any need to use it, although it might be a different story in winter. Complimentary yukata and toothbrushes are provided and each room sleeps two, with a small alcove containing a refrigerator, coffee table and two chairs by the window. Most of the drinks in the refrigerator are alcoholic, but there is a bottle of mineral water, and a kettle and traditional Japanese tea set are also provided. For the desperate among you, there is a vending machine in the hallway! On a side note, however, there are no convenience stores nearby so I advise stocking up with anything you feel you might need before arriving unless you plan to rent a car.

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Futons are provided along with pillows, but the pillow is a traditional Japanese one filled with something that feels like gravel. It’s more comfortable than it sounds, but if you’re the kind of person who needs a soft fluffy pillow, you’ll either need to bring your own or improvise something with the cushions in the room (luckily there are plenty of these!)

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The dinner and breakfast provided is also very good, but traditional Japanese fare, a lot of which is sourced from Aizu itself, such as the grilled chicken skewers (yakitori) and horsemeat. If you love Japanese food or are always up for experiencing a new cuisine, then look no further. If you’d prefer toast, however, this isn’t the place for you. Drinks at meals are either tea or water, which are both complementary or alcohol, which will incur an additional cost (bringing in your own alcohol is a definite no-no, although I wasn’t able to get the landlady’s view on bringing in a Coke or grape Fanta from the vending machine). The drinks menu is only in Japanese; however, the landlady is more than happy to translate for you.

If you’re looking for souvenirs, you can buy handmade soap and lotions made from some of the hot spring water. These can be purchased from Nanokamachi Station (JR Tadami Line) and Mishima Inn, or alternatively, you can just order directly from the website.

As a non-drinker, the lack of a non-alcoholic drinks menu was the biggest problem for me, but that aside, this is a fantastic hot spring and traditional Japanese inn combined, and I highly recommend it to anybody who is looking for a taste of authentic, traditional Japan in a peaceful country setting.

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WATTENTION NINJA WRITER PROFILE

Jude Austin
Jude sold her first story to a magazine at the age of twelve and has been writing ever since. In the past, she’s dabbled in various jobs from care worker to roulette croupier to language tutor, all the while scribbling down various ideas and frightening random people by asking them equally random questions about astrophysics, medicine, genetic science and whether or not it was really true that people could explode in outer space.

She currently lives in Japan, where she divides her time between studying film production at college, watching Japanese TV, working on her next few books (her latest sci-fi thriller Project Tau is currently available on Amazon) and hunting for the perfect takoyaki vendor while trying to have random encounters with members of Arashi. She also writes fanfiction under the penname JudasFm.

Please don’t ask about the Bright Blue Squid. It only encourages him.
MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

 

Ninja ID: jude.austin

Explore the unspoiled nature and unique culture of Yanaizu town

Yaneizu Panaromic Photo
Panoramic Tadami line near Yanaizu Town

Far-removed from the Tokyo lifestyle, the Yanaizu area in Fukushima prefecture is a little-known place filled with unforgettable sights and untapped Japanese cultural history. Even the trip there is something straight out of a Ghibli movie, the type of place where civilization feels like a far-away dream, and reality is something greener and more mysterious. From the highway, miles of uninterrupted forests can be seen, and far in the distance, ice-capped mountains still persevere against the hot summer heat. There’s an untouched wildness impossible to ignore, and Fukushima’s initial charm appears to be exactly that —its pure unspoiled nature.

Lovers of nature and animals can enjoy more than just hopes of sighting wildlife; in fact, even the folklore pays homage to it. References to the legend of Akabeko, the red-haired cow, can be seen everywhere in the town of Yanaizu. The legend claims that in 1611 the Aizu region was hit by a huge earthquake which greatly damaged the area and resulted in many deaths. Upstream villages donated materials for reconstruction, which was carried on the backs of normal, black cows. However, suddenly, appearing out of nowhere, red-haired cows arrived and assisted with carrying the load, only to disappear immediately after. Since then, the area has honored these cows who helped them in a time of great need. Akabeko’s legacy can be seen throughout town, as gift stores offer various red-cow themed products. (In fact, even one of the head town officials features Akabeko on his business card).

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Legendary Akabeko cow

However, the cows are a lot more than a souvenir, ancient temples feature them as well. Fukuman Kokuzo Bosatsu Enzo-ji temple is one such place. One of Japan’s three most famous Kokuzo Bosatsu temples, established over 1200 years ago, mainly mirrors the average Japanese temple in style and design, yet offers its own interesting aspects, including a deep appreciation for Akabeko.

Fukuman Kokuzo Enzoji Temple
Fukuman Kokuzo Enzoji Temple
Buddhist Temple / Yaneizu, Fukushima
The temple’s bell

At this temple, in addition to traditional Buddhist buildings, statues of cows dot the courtyard, which also boasts a stunning hillside view of the nearby bridges and a river.

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Cow statue in Yanaizu area

The Tadami River is a presence in this area that cannot be ignored, stretching leisurely throughout the town and trailing along the mountains, covered by striking red bridges which cut sharp against the landscape and even feature a sightseeing train.

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the Takiya River stretches throughtout Yanaizu town

The area’s specialty dishes are abundant, full of flavor, and undeniably Japanese, making good use of hearty ingredients such as meat and soba for a maximum impact. One such dish is Aizu Yanaizu sauce cutlet rice bowl, a variety of Katsudon, a well-known staple on any Japanese menu; however, this dish is thicker and juicier than its counterparts found elsewhere. This particular meal has thick cuts saturated by the signature sauce and a savory aftertaste, as well as a layer of egg between the meat and rice.

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Katsudon set from Yanaizu

Soba is also a specialty in the Fukushima region; Hakase soba is made entirely from buckwheat raised in the nutrient dense Mt. Hakase area. If just eating soba isn’t enough for you, the local tourist center offers workshops instructing travelers on how to make their own handmade soba.

Handmade soba
Handmade soba
Making soba
Making soba

Soba isn’t the only cultural activity featured in Yanaizu; visitors can also make Awa Manju, a sweet and savory dessert made with sweet bean paste wrapped in millet dough. The workshop is offered at the building directly opposite the visitor’s center.

 

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Making Awa Manju

 

Awa Manju
Awa Manju

Other craft making workshops offered in the town include making woven wooden trinkets as a memory of the time spent in Fukushima. When wet, the wood can be manipulated and folded into a variety of intricate designs, strengthening as it dries, and is a traditional craft from the area. The Saito Kiyoshi Art Museum also offers a respite from nature and traditional Japanese lifestyle, featuring modern art in a building whose architecture is just as beautiful as the paintings inside.

Saitokiyoshi Museum
Saito Kiyoshi Museum

Naturally, the onsen in the area also possess a traditional Japanese flavor, having existed for over 1300 years. In fact, it seems to be largely unchanged since that era. Instead of a well-manicured, recently constructed onsen, the Nishiyama Onsen area in Yanaizu town offers an authentic and isolated mountain retreat far away from civilization with lots of character and a large assortment of both indoor and outdoor baths. In fact, lots of them feature a stunning view of nature.

One of the many onsen in Yanaizu town in Fukushima
One of the many onsen in Yanaizu town in Fukushima

The Yanaizu town is still very much a place shrouded in intrigue, isolated deep in the mountains in the north of Japan’s main island, where animals roam the forests freely and the sight of the river feels like a constant presence no matter where you are in Yanaizu. It’s a place of untouched serenity and wilderness, yet also offers cultural experiences. It’s a place of mystery —a mystery that can only be solved by visiting it.


WATTENTION NINJA WRITER PROFILE

Taylor Bond
Taylor Bond is a freelance writer and photographer. By day, she writes, but by night, she visits as many tabehodai restaurants as she can find. Despite what her visa says, her true ambition in Japan is to become a professional eater.MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

 

Hatsushima, an island full of adventure


A thrilling escapade away from bustling Tokyo


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There is an island off the shore of the city of Atami in Shizuoka prefecture with the rare virtue of combining adrenaline and relaxation. The Hatsushima island adventure starts at the Atamiko port, where visitors ride either the “Ile de Vacance Premier” or “Ile de Vacance III”, the two high-speed vessels that serve the island with departures several times a day. It’s a 30-minute pleasant ride that gives passengers the chance to admire the breathtaking view of Sagami Bay and feed the sea-gulls that try to catch up with the boat.

Hatsushima offers a variety of amazing outdoor activities such as the Asian Garden “R-Asia”, where you can relax in a hammock and admire a great variety of flowers such as daffodils, the bird of paradise flower, and even early cherry blossoms, allowing visitors to Hatsushima to enjoy the quintessential Japanese flower as early as mid-February!. Inside the garden, adrenaline lovers can also join the SARUTOBI experience, an adventure course featuring bridges, webs and ropes hanging from the top of the trees that you have to complete wearing a special harness.

For lunch, there are many restaurants offering a great variety of dining options and seasonal dishes. For example, from February 4th to March 12th, visitors can taste the time limited Donburi Gassen, a delicious bowl of rice with fresh and tasty fish caught by local fishermen. Visitors can also take a relaxing dip in the ocean bath “Shimano-Yu” and admire the breathtaking view at the ocean pool during summer.

At Hatsushima, you can also get a glimpse of majestic Mt. Fuji on a clear day from the top of Hatsushima’s lighthouse or go underwater for scuba diving, spend the night in the camping site, go fishing or visit the local Maritime Museum. You will never run out of things to do.

Two of our WAttention Ninja got the opportunity to experience a full day of adventure at Hatsushima island and this is what they had to say about the trip.

Santiago Basterra

To say that my day at Hatsushima Island Resort was thrilling and exciting would not make it justice, it was so much more! The restaurants had such a friendly atmosphere, small and traditional with top notch food and great attention. The miso was delicious! The Sarutobi adventure was my favorite part though, the first course was exciting and good for people who are not used to obstacle courses. Meanwhile, the second course was amazingly challenging, with the zip-line at the end being the cherry on top of the cake as you celebrate having completed the hardest course! Afterwards, the ocean bath was exceptionally tidy, everything was perfect and the water deliciously warm. Special mention to the sakura in the garden which were already blooming despite the fact that it was only February!
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We took a 30 minute boat ride from Atamiko port to Hatsushima island, and as soon as we arrived, we saw the great variety of restaurants offering Hatsushima’s delicious sea food. We got to try the Donburi Gassen, a special, time limited dish made with shrimp, fresh fish, rice and accompanied with miso soup. We then headed to Hatsushima Island Resort to join the Sarutobi experience. The staff was always there to help us put on our safety gear, and there is also a brief orientation where they explain the dynamic of the activity. After that, we were confronted with two courses, an easy one, where you can test your abilities and then a hard one, only for those who feel comfortable going further. At first, it can be a bit scary because of the height and the difficulty level that increases as you go along, but after a while I felt excited and had an amazing time.

Samuel Estribi

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Sample schedule for a day in Hatsushima Island
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Hatsushima Island

Open: Asian garden “R-Asia” 9am to 4pm (varies according to the season), Sarutobi experience 10am to 5pm, Ocean Bath Shimano-Yu 10am to 9pm, Lighthouse from 9am to 4pm.

Address:(Atamiko Port boarding place) 6-11 Wadahama-Minamicho, Atami, Shizuoka 413-0023. (Hatsushima Island resort) 1113 Kamifuruji-no-yama, Hatsushima, Atami, Shizuoka 413-0004.

Phone: Hatsushima Island resort, PICA Reservation center 0555-30-4580

Price: the Asian garden “R-Asia” is 900 JPY, Sarutobi experience is 1,700 JPY for adults and 1,300 JPY for children, the Ocean Bath Shimano-Yu is 900 JPY for adults and 600 JPY for children, Lighthouse is 200 JPY for adults, free for children and the Atami – Hatsushima round-trip high speed boat is 2,600 JPY for adults and 1,300 for children.

Website: http://www.hatsushima.jp/en/

Access: From Tokyo, take the Shinkansen Kodama for Atami Station and then take the bus bound for Atami Port & Korakuen from Bus Stop #8 (15 min). At Atami Port, get on boat named either “Ile de Vacance Premier” or “Ile de Vacance III” to reach Hatsushima.

Enjoy the Mt. Fuji Area to the fullest with these useful tools

・Mt. Fuji Pass
This is a tourist pass especially made for foreigners visiting Japan. Save on sightseeing and transportation and get preferential access to different tourists facilities, including Fuji Q Highland.
Find out more here: http://bus-en.fujikyu.co.jp/mtpass/
fuji-q-resorts-
・Fuji-Q Resorts App
Get insider tips to make the most out of your visit to the Mt. Fuji area
The app is available in Japanese, Chinese, English and Thai
Find out more here: http://app.fujiq-resorts.com/fuji-qresorts/lp/
apli

Sagamiko Resort, fun comes in many forms

With so much to do at Sagamiko Resort, the fun is guaranteed

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If you ever find yourself undecided or at an impasse with your friends over what to do on weekends, consider this: nobody will have to compromise if you go somewhere that offers something fun for everyone like Sagamiko Resort. Located in Sagamihara city in Kanagawa prefecture, this amusement park is just 50 minutes away from Shinjuku station by train. It offers a variety of attractions divided into different areas. On Pleasure Forest you will find around 30 different attractions including a Ferris Wheel located at the top of a mountain with amazing views of the surrounding area. At Wild Cooking Garden you can make use of the BBQ facilities to enjoy a relaxed meal with friends on a sunny day, and even if it’s raining, you’ll be able to cook your BBQ inside the indoor facilities. And at night, the Illumillion decorations turn the park into a colorful wonderland as six million color light bulbs create a breathtaking landscape.

For people who want to get in touch with nature, Sagamiko offers Paddington Bear™ Campsite, with different kinds of lodging options and everything you might need to enjoy a night outdoors, as well as mountain bicycle courses and one of Kanto area’s largest radio-control car courses.The park also offers the on-site Ururi onsen, with an open-air bath, bedrock bath, a restaurant and resting areas among other facilities.

Three of our WAttention Ninja got the opportunity to experience a full day of fun at Sagamiko Resort and this is what they had to say about the trip.

Kerstin Thies

The first thing that amazed me was the view on the mountains all around the resort. It was a nice alternative to the bustling streets of Shibuya and the tall skyscrapers in Shinjuku. Since we arrived at lunch time, we had a barbecue lunch at the campsite and we even got to try a dutch oven where we cooked a tasty chicken. One of the highlights of the trip was the mirror maze, since it was something I had not done before and made me and my friends laugh a lot. But by far, the most amazing thing was the decorations once it got dark. The whole park was illuminated by pink, red, gold, blue and green lights in all shapes and sizes. There was even a field of glowing flowers and a light show. Soon after watching the show and taking pictures, we went to Ururi onsen. It was my first time in an Onsen and it was a great experience. It felt great to soak in the hot water after being on the move all day. I left Sagamiko Resort with a softer skin and a lot of beautiful pictures and memories.
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We started our day with a delicious BBQ lunch, where we got to test our cooking skills. After our tummies were full, we went on to the attractions. The mazes were a lot of fun, especially the mirror maze. It was challenging and confusing at the same time but we had a lot of fun. We then visited the Ferris wheel which offered an amazing view. As the sun was setting, the “Illumillion” show started and the whole park lit with many beautiful colors, it was such an amazing sight. After a nice walk around the park, our bodies were tired so we decided to go to the onsen. It had many different kinds of baths with different temperatures to fit everyone’s preference. After an hour-long, relaxing bath my skin was very soft and my body felt really good and filled with energy. We then rode a direct bus from the park to Shinjuku, which was very convenient for us. This was an amazing experience, and I made really good memories.

Maren Steine

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Romina Bonilla

I had an amazing day at Sagamiko Resort with my friends. We arrived around lunch time and we headed straight to the BBQ area, where we had a delicious meal and even got to use the dutch oven, which I had never used before. We then spent a few hours enjoying the many attractions that the park has to offer. My favorite one was the Ferris wheel because of the amazing view. At night, I was impressed by the beautiful lights that decorate the park. We also had the chance to soak in the onsen and I was surprised to feel that my skin was very smooth and relaxed. I would definitely like to come back soon, I highly recommend it for anyone looking to have an amazing time!
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Sample schedule for a day in Sagamiko Resort
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Sagamiko Resort

Open: Open daily except Thursdays from 10:00am to 9pm on weekdays and from 9:30am to 9pm on weekends. Operation hours vary according to the season.
Address: 1634 Wakayanagi,Midori-ku,Sagamihara,Kanagawa 252-0175
Phone: 042-685-1111
Website: http://www.sagamiko-resort.jp/(in Japanese)
Access: Get on the JR Chuo Line from Shinjuku station bound for Otsuki and get off at Sagamiko station. Then, get on the bus no. 1 bound for Mikage and get off at Pleasure Forest Mae. You can also take a direct bus from Shinjuku bus terminal to Pleasure Forest. (Operates only during Sagamiko Illumillion display season).
Price: Park admission 1,700 JPY for adults, 1,000 JPY for children and 1,000 JPY for pets
Free pass including park admission and unlimited rides to all attractions is 3,900 JPY for adults and 3,100 per children.

Enjoy the Mt. Fuji Area to the fullest with these useful tools

・Mt. Fuji Pass
This is a tourist pass especially made for foreigners visiting Japan. Save on sightseeing and transportation and get preferential access to different tourists facilities, including Fuji Q Highland.
Find out more here: http://bus-en.fujikyu.co.jp/mtpass/
fuji-q-resorts-
・Fuji-Q Resorts App
Get insider tips to make the most out of your visit to the Mt. Fuji area
The app is available in Japanese, Chinese, English and Thai
Find out more here: http://app.fujiq-resorts.com/fuji-qresorts/lp/
apli

Top 3 Therapeutic Hot Springs in Japan

The practice of visiting hot springs or onsen has long been regarded as beneficial for curing various ailments in Japan. Called toji (湯治 lit. hot water healing) in Japanese, this practice of balneotherapy is steeped in thousands of years of tradition in Japan and is also credited as one of the main reasons for the outstanding longevity of the Japanese people.
The best way to benefit from the onsen is to stay for a minimum of two to three nights at the onsen inn in order to rest, recuperate and let the minerals in the onsen water work their way into the body.

According to a research conducted by Rakuten Travel, here are the top 3 onsen and ryokan accommodations favored by the locals for treating health problems and promoting overall health.

3. Yamadake Onsen Resort Shin-Tamagawa Hot Spring – Akita Prefecture

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The Shin-Tamagawa hot spring gets its water from the same source as Tamagawa onsen which renowned in Japan to have the largest discharge of up to 9,000 litres per minute and also as the most acidic hot spring.

What’s in the water: radium, hydrochloride
Effective for: rheumatism, high blood pressure, anemia; inhaling the steam is said to help with asthma and respiratory problems

Access: 42km bus ride from JR Tazawako Station
Address: Tazawako Tamagawa, Semboku-Shi, Akita, 014-1205, Japan
Ranking:★★★☆☆
Explore Akita

2. Sukayu Onsen Ryokan – Aomori Prefecture

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Situated on Aomori Prefecture’s Mt. Hakkoda, this onsen surrounded by magnificent mountain scenery. The ryokan has been open for over 300 years and the main bath, sen-nin-buro (bath for 1,000 people), received its name from its massive size and features an old, large cypress cabin with a timeless atmosphere.

What’s in the water: chloride, acidic hydrogen sulfide
Effective for: poor blood circulation, burns, lower back pain

Access: 70-min bus ride (JR bus headed to Towadako Lake) from JR Aomori Station
Address: 50, Arakawa Yamakokuyurinsuyuzawa, Aomori-Shi, Aomori, 030-0111, Japan
Ranking:★★★☆☆
Explore Aomori

1. Shima Onsen Sekizenkan Kashotei Sanso – Gunma Prefecture

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Built in 1691 along the clear waters of the Shima River, this ryokan has 300 years of history and was even designated as an important cultural asset. The hot spring, which takes its name from the word “shima”, meaning “40,000”, is said to cure 40,000 types of illnesses. You may recognize some of its unique architecture as it served as the model for the ryokan in Studio Ghibli’s “Spirited Away”.

What’s in the water: calcium sodium sulfate
Effective for: motor dysfunction, gynecopathy, rheumatism and neurosis; drinking the water is said to be good for treating constipation and obesity

Access: 40-min bus ride from Nakanojo Station
Address: 4236, Shima Ko, Nakanojo-Machi, Agatsuma-Gun, Gunma 377-0601, Japan
Ranking:★★★★☆
Explore Gunma

5 Ways to Unwind at the Phoenix Seagaia Resort

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Miyazaki City is associated with blue seas, surfing, mangoes, golf, honeymoon trips and spiny lobsters! There are many delicious things to eat, many beautiful landscapes to enjoy and many activities to try—and the Phoenix Seagaia Resort offers the best of Miyazaki all in a single sprawling location. Here are five great reasons to visit!


5. Sheraton Grande Ocean Resort

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The Sheraton Grande Ocean Resort is located in the center of the vast Phoenix Seagaia Resort. The hotel is 154 meters (505 ft) tall and has 743 rooms, most of them with an ocean view.

Sheraton puts an emphasis on comfortable sleep, and has developed the “Sheraton Suite Sleeper Bed” together with mattress-maker Sealy in order to provide the best sleeping conditions for guests. All the rooms are equipped with this bed, which embraces your body. A great hotel offers not only great views, but also great conditions for your comfortable sleep!
trip101.com

4. Miyazaki Phoenix Zoo
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A popular spot for families is the Miyazaki Phoenix Zoo, which isn’t too far from the hotel. There are 1,200 animals from 100 different species.

In the African-themed part of the zoo you can see zebras and giraffes up close. Some of the daily events include a walking demonstration by the elephants, marching goats, a show with flamingos and interaction with the smaller animals. The zoo opened in 1971, and one of its most famous attractions is the flamingo show, where 70 birds perform together.
trip101.com

3. Shosenkyo Onsen
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Japan is the land of onsen, or hot springs. There are a seemingly endless number of hot springs here, but Miyazaki City’s Shosenkyo Onsen has an elegance you won’t find almost anywhere else.

Located in a pine forest adjacent to the Phoenix Seagaia Resort, the opulent bath gives off an air of ancient royalty. There are three types of baths at Shosenkyo Onsen. Which baths guests can access depends on the package they’ve booked at the hotel. The baths are said to be great for nerve pain, sore muscles, joint pain, stiff shoulders, muscle pain from exercise, bruises, sprains, sensitivity to cold, fatigue, cuts, burns and skin disorders.
trip101.com

2. Phoenix Country Club
2. Phoenix Country Club
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On one of the Top 3 courses in Japan (and in the Top 100 in the world!), the Phoenix Country Club is surrounded by pristine pine groves. The gorgeous emerald course is as fun to play on as it is to marvel at its beauty. And the clubhouse is just as inviting!

Step inside the elegant clubhouse, renovated in 2002, and you’ll enter a world fully dedicated to the greats of the sport. The sophisticated, soft lighting highlights tournament memorabilia, including photos of past champions, caddie bags signed by Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia, and other historical trinkets.
www.seagaia.co.jp

1. Pokémon Scavenger Hunt

The Phoenix Seagaia Resort is also offering a unique event for Pokémon fans and their parents: a quest to search for over 200 Pokémon at the seaside hotel. Participants are given a “mysterious book” (actually a tablet computer in disguise) that lets them record Pokémon hidden around the resort, including some from the latest X and Y games. When certain markers are found and scanned, the Pokémon will appear as pages within the book. They’re even hidden around the hotel rooms!

The best part for slightly older Poképals: there’s no age limit, and the hotel even recommends that parents or guardians participate too—to help the kids out, of course!
www.animenewsnetwork.com


Read the original article on All About Japan: 5 Ways to Unwind at the Phoenix Seagaia Resort

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Traditional Meets Modernity at Hoshino Resorts

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Founded as a silk business in Karuizawa, Nagano, in 1904, Hoshino opened its first hotel in 1914, taking the name Hoshino Onsen Ryokan. The simple idea was to create an experience that combined modern luxuries with more traditional and natural views and ambiance. It has since expanded to become a multi-branded operator of hotels and resorts.

1. Hoshinoya
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The Hoshinoya brand of resorts and hotels includes the chain’s showcase retreat in Karuizawa. Their aim is to create a sense of peace and calm within the bounds of each resort, getting customers out of their daily, busy routines and into a peaceful utopia. TVs are not allowed in any of these hotels, but they do provide amazing scenery and pictures. Interestingly, the rooms here are dimmer than at other hotel chains so as to encourage interacting with the surrounding nature.
www.hoshinoresorts.com

2. Kai
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The Kai brand places more emphasis on the onsen (hot spring) experience. Having expanded to 13 locations in Japan alone, each ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) has less than 50 rooms to provide spacious and peaceful experiences to their clients. Kai Onsen Resorts make three commitments with their customers: to pursue amenity that matches with modern times and modern expenses; hospitality according with locality and seasonality; and good staff with excellent services. Kai aims to provide local charm and the best seasonal cuisine.
www.hoshinoresorts.com

3. Risonare
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Risonare is the rarest of these chains, having expanded to just four locations. However, these hotels are located in more remote areas, and are often less accessible by train. The theme of Risonare is nature—to let customers enjoy the air of the highlands, the openness of the sea and the spaciousness of the night sky. Risonare wants customers to enjoy every part of nature through different activities and make it a part of their memory.
www.hoshinoresorts.com

4. Overseas
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Hoshino Resorts is starting to expand overseas as well. Hotel Kia Ora Resort and Spa is located on the Rangiroa atoll in French Polynesia, roughly 355 kilometers (220 miles) northeast of Tahiti. Endless white beaches, an idyllic blue lagoon and jumping dolphins are sure to both entertain you and give you the guidance to simply relax!

A further international branch is opening up in Bali, Indonesia. In keeping with the corporate image, Hoshinoya Bali will keep most of its traditional aesthetic while adding some muted Japanese tones mixed with the bright colors of traditional Indonesia.


Read the original article on All About Japan: Traditional Meets Modernity at Hoshino Resorts

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3 Wild ‘Onsen’ Theme Parks

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Want a little more than just a soak in hot water? Try an onsen theme park, where a whole world of water-related adventure awaits!

3. Hakone Kowakien Yunessun Hot Springs Amusement Park & Spa Resort (Kanagawa)
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Located most of the way up toward the Hakone Ropeway in western Kanagawa, Hakone Kowakien Yunessun boasts over two dozen water attractions. While the resort presents typical water slides and hot baths under grandiose themes, the real feature here is the weird water: there’s a Sake Spa, a Green Tea Spa, a Coffee Spa and a Wine Spa that contains real wine, garnished with a giant 3.6-meter (12 ft) wine bottle hovering over the pool. You can spend all your time in the bathing suit zones, or head over to the no-clothes zones for a more traditional onsen soak.

http://www.yunessun.com/

2. Spa World (Osaka)
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Spa World is an edifice of hot water on Osaka’s south side that isn’t too bashful for the occasional tie-in with Attack on Titan. In addition to four floors of food and three of various relaxation services, the baths are divided into European and Asian Zones, featuring slightly weird themes like Atlantis, Ancient Rome and a Finnish-style sauna on the European floor, or various Japanese baths mixed with a Bali-style resort bath and a Persian bath supposedly inspired by Persepolis on the Asian floor. The two zones rotate between men and women monthly, closing for only 75 minutes between 8:45 and 10 a.m. each day. There are also various saunas modeled (some rather loosely) after different regions around the world, while the eighth floor features a kids’ pool, waterslides and two large rooftop jacuzzis.

http://www.spaworld.co.jp/english/

1. Edo-Onsen Monogatari (Tokyo)
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The two primal themes are hot spring baths and the Edo Period, the time from 1603 to 1868 when the Tokugawa Shogunate ruled Japan. A rental yukata robe is included with the price of admission, leaving you free to wander in classic style through 14 different kinds of baths, numerous restaurants and even an old-school shopping arcade, where you can play old-fashioned carnival games, try throwing a shuriken (ninja star) or savor Edo Period candy. All this is located right in the Odaiba area on Tokyo Bay, with the water sourced from natural springs 1,400 meters (4,600 ft) underground.

http://daiba.ooedoonsen.jp/en/


Read the original article on All About Japan: 3 Wild ‘Onsen’ Theme Parks

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Wakamatsu Chita Hot Spring Resort

Located on the Chita Peninsula, a less-traveled area in South Nagoya, the Wakamatsu Chita Hot Spring Resort promises a comfortable stay, combining the authentic Japanese “omotenashi” hospitality with state-of-the-art facilities.

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Here you can rest in beautiful Japanese rooms with traditional tatami flooring. Take in the view of the Ise Bay and be lulled to sleep by the sound of the ocean waves.

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They also take pride in their hot springs. Four different onsen areas with different themes and views are available for you to experience. You can reserve the private bath on the roof with an amazing view.

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And though the Chita Peninsula is off the beaten track, it offers a plethora of different activities and attractions, including fishing experiences, fruit harvesting experiences, whiskey making, theme parks, museums, and many more! Spend a relaxing stay at the Wakamatsu Chita ryokan and fall in love with the Chita Peninsula, the hidden playground in Central Japan.

Information

Wakamatsu Chita Ryokan (Hot Spring Resort)
Address: Hamaokabe-19-1 Utsumi, Minamichita, Aichi Prefecture
Access: 30 minutes by car from Central Japan International Airport
URL: http://www.wakamatsuryokan.com/chita/index_en.html

Discover the town of Onsens, Shuzenji

Located about 100km southwest of Tokyo, is Izu City, Shiszuoka Prefecture. Found at the Izu Hantō (peninsula), it is well known for its natural resources, mild climate and a mix of popular traditional and modern attractions, especially its onsens – making it a popular weekend getaway for Tokyoites.

The city can be split into three major areas: Eastern, western and central. Facing Sagami Bay, Eastern Izu is home to the famous Kawazu Sakura, the earliest flowering sakura in Japan while Mount Fuji lies in the west, across Suruga Bay’s coastline. Running through central Izu is the Kano River, Shuzenji Onsen and Temple. Other attractions include Atami Castle, Toi Gold Mind and MOA Museum of Art.

Easily accessible from Tokyo by train, you can get to Izu City by taking 50-minute ride on the JR Tokaido Shinkansen from Tokyo to Atami and Mishima or an 80-minute one by Odoriko from Tokyo to Atami.

SHUZENJI

One of the oldest and most famous hot springs resort towns on the Izu Peninsula, Shuzenji Onsen was named after the Shuzenji Temple (修禅寺) that is found in the centre of the town. Surrounded by the volcanic Amagi mountain range, the onsen offers guests a beautiful hilly view in place of the regular ocean-view onsens. Rich in history, Shuzenji Onsen is also known as Sho-Kyoto (kanji, little Kyoto) for its historical architecture and traditional charms.

BAMBOO GROVE PATH
Take a stroll along the scenic bamboo-lined Katsura River and discover quaint coffee shops and Shuzenji Gallery along the way.

SHUZENJI TEMPLE
Founded by Kobo Daishi this 1,200 year-old Zen Buddhist temple’s mizuya (purification fountain) uses onsen water that you can drink.

KAWARA YU
Soak and relax your feet after a day of exploring at this free hot spring foot bath in the town centre.

SHUZENJI NIJI NO SATO
Hop on the steam locomotive and discover the town’s four unique areas: Canadian, English and Izu villages and a Japanese garden.

ONSENS

OCHIAIROU MURAKAMI
Registered as a National Cultural Property, this 150year-old onsen is famous for its luxurious rooms, warm hospitality, high standards of service and mysterious cave hot spring. Guests can expect a truly authentic and historically-rich experience thanks to its well-persevered Showa Era architectural structure, traditional décor and gourmet seasonal kaiseki (懐石, traditional Japanese course meal).

Access: 20-minute cab ride from Shuzenji
Address: 1887-1 Yugashima Izu-City Shizuoka 〒410-3206
Web: ochiairou.com

 

YAGYU-NO-SHO
Tucked away in Shuzenji’s bamboo woods, this resort’s as well-known for its deeply relaxing hot springs as it is for its genuine Kyoto-style kaiseki. Their rooms are designed in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony style called Sukiya Zukuri (数寄屋造り) that is characterised by the use of natural elements such as wood and, of course, bamboo.

Access: 10-minute cab ride from Shuzenji
Address: 1116-6 Shuzenji Izu-City Shizuoka 〒410-2416
Web: yagyu-no-sho.com/en/

SORA TOGETSUSOU KINRYU
This hot spring resort has four uniquely themed open-air baths for you to choose from. Their contemporary “Lights” onsen has a clean and minimalistic look that is best enjoyed at night and “Sunset” offers a gorgeous view of the sun setting over Mount Daruma. “Rock” and “Stone” show the contrast of traditional and modern styles while using the same earthy element.

Access: 8-minute cab ride from Shuzenji
Address: 3455 Shuizenji Izu-City Shizuoka 〒410-2416
Web: kinryu.net

 

SIDE TRIPS IN IZU CITY

MACHI NAVI YURURI
Get dressed up for a day at this charming little kimono rental store set across the Shuzenji Onsen bust terminal. There are over 150 designs to choose from with various accessories to complete your look.

JŌREN FALLS
One of Japan’s 100 exquisite falls of Japan, Jōren Falls is surrounded by beautiful fauna and flora. On your way up, savour a creamy wasabi soft serve sold exclusively at the entrance of the falls.

GETTING TO SHUZENJI

30-minute ride on the Izuhakone Railway from Mishima Station to Shuzenji Station or a 2-hour ride on the Odoriko trains from Tokyo Station to Shuzenji Station, followed by a 10-minute bus or taxi ride to the town itself.

Read the original article on WAttention Singapore

Enoshima Island Spa

Enoshima Island Spa (Enospa) is located on Enoshima island, only 1 hour away from the center of Tokyo. This resort prides itself as a holistic health therapy center, a retreat to heal the body and mind from the stress of daily life, and for good reason! Healthy food made from fresh local ingredients, massage sessions, hot springs and heated pools with amazing views, this place has it all!

Soak in the spacious indoor hot springs or spend time in their heated outdoor pool with a view of the ocean and Mt. Fuji and check out the cave pool that features a cafe and bar. Swimsuits are required in the pool areas, and are available to rent at check-in.

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Certified medical physicians and instructors also provide supervision and instruction to ensure the best use of hot springs, exercise, and meals. Different exercise, yoga and meal programs are available for guests, regular members, and athletes.

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Information

Enospa – Enoshima Island Spa
Address: 2-1-6 Enoshima, Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture
Access: 15-20 min. walk from Katase-Enoshima station
URL: http://enoshimaislandspa.com/

Winter Activities in Tohoku : Yukimi Onsen

For many, taking a dip in an onsen (hot spring) surrounded by snow-capped mountains while watching snow fall gently is a tranquil experience bordering on the heavenly. This is called yukimi onsen, meaning enjoying snow views while soaking in an open-air hot spring. In Japan, it is common for people to do this in order to relax their bodies and minds, and to socialize with family and friends. Although stripping down naked in front of total strangers might sound daunting for some first-time visitors, the tradition (hadaka-no-tsukiai) goes back centuries; it is thought to break down boundaries between individuals, thus allowing relaxed, peaceful conversation.

Matsukawa Onsen

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Matsukawa is a charming, secluded hot spring town tucked neatly inside Towada-Hachimantai National Park. Established in the Edo Period, the water has a light, milky appearance because of its high sulfur content and is said to boost blood circulation, thus helping to heal many ailments. There are a couple of ryokans (traditional Japanese inns) where guests can enjoy old- style open-air baths with scenic views for free. Visiting is a soothing and unforgettable way to experience the traditional appeal of rural Japanese culture.

Access: 90 minutes from Tohoku Shinkansen Morioka Station by bus

Sukayu Onsen

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Sukayu Onsen, famous for its giant mixed-gender bath, is located on a 925-meter high plateau on Aomori Prefecture’s Mt. Hakkoda. Every winter, visitors from Japan and abroad come seeking moments of supremely blissful relaxation and reflection at this picturesque hot spring hideaway. The main bath, sen-nin-buro, received its name from its massive size and features an old, large cypress cabin with a timeless atmosphere. If you are looking for a genuine, traditional Japanese public bathing experience, this is the perfect spot!

Access: 70 minutes from JR Aomori Station by bus

Nyuto Onsen

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Akita Prefecture’s Nyuto Onsen is one of the most unvisited in Japan due to its remote location. Surrounded by lovely beech forests and an abundance of seasonal scenery, it is blessed with a mineral-rich spring that has been helping to heal the ailments of locals for more than 350 years. There are seven traditional inns that offer outdoor baths with views of unparalleled beauty, especially in the winter when piles of snow blanket the mountains surrounding the isolated area. If you are in the market to experience the true peace and quiet of rural Japan, this is a blue-chip choice!
Access: 45 minutes from JR Tazawako Station by bus

Other Recommended Yukimi Onsen

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Tsuta Onsen: Towada-shi, Aomori
One of the most popular hidden onsens in Japan. Feel the spring water well up from the bottom of the bathtub.

Zao Onsen: Yamagata-shi, Yamagata
Discovered more than 1,900 years ago, the onsen is located in one of the most famous mountain resorts.

Naruko Onsen: Osaki-shi, Miyagi
Naruko Onsen consists of ve areas: Naruko, Higashi Naruko, Kawatabi, Nakayamadaira and Onikobe. With more than 370 hot spring sources available, visitors can fully enjoy the experience of traditional Japanese bathing.

Come on over to Komatsu (5) : 1300 year old Ryokan – Houshi

Being established in the year 718 Houshi was once recognized as the oldest hotel in the world before another ryokan in Yamanashi prefecture beat its founding date by 13 years. Still, Houshi has been operated by the same family for forty-six generations giving it an amazing history.

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The ryokan’s hot spring is said to be founded by a monk. While he was climbing the holy Mount Hakusan he had a dream where the mountain’s deity told him about a spring with restorative powers and ordered him to find it for the people of Awazu.

It has 100 guest rooms and a ‘Hanare’, a private guest residence. There are two indoor and two same-sex-only outdoor hot spring baths. Two family baths can also be privately reserved by guests. There are a total of four buildings belonging to the Ryokan; Shinshun no Yakata (early spring building), Haru no Yakata (spring building), Natsu no Yakata (summer building), and Aki no Yakata (autumn building).

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The entrance to the building is very impressive with a beautiful decorative carpet. When you first arrive, you are welcomed with a cup of matcha and a sweet while looking at the inner garden.

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When you stay at a ryokan, food is served in your room and an attendant is there to help you explain the dishes and later to help you make your bed.

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After eating you can visit the amazing outdoor and indoor baths for a nice long and relaxing soak. The water is beautiful and it is not difficult to believe the legend that it has special curative powers given by a god.

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If you want to be truly luxurious, you can stay in the special VIP room where emperors have stayed before. It is a big complex that is more than just one room. But if that is out of your budget, you can still enjoy the view of the thousand-year old garden.

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Other entertainment at Houshi include a bar, occasional Noh plays and a small museum featuring crafts from the region.

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Access

Awazu Onsen, Komatsu-shi
Ishikawa-ken 92383
Website: http://www.ho-shi.co.jp/jiten/Houshi_E/home.htm

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Toshichi Onsen

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Toshichi Onsen is situated in the Towada Hachimantai National Park, which lies between Akita prefecture and Iwate prefecture. Sitting at an altitude of 1,400m, it is the highest hot spring in Tohoku region. It is said that its name came from the name of a logger, Toshichi, who discovered the hot spring. In this area, there are some open-air baths where you can take a bath and feel the fresh mountain air at the same time. Many climbers and skiers visit here every year. Towada Hachimantai Hot spring Resort including Toshichi Hot spring is designated as one of the Public Hot spring Resort in Japan.
Toshichi-Onsen-300x188Toshichi Onsen Saiunso It is a ryokan which stands around the summit of Mt. Hachimantai. Toshichi Onsen Saiunso has some open-air baths from which you can enjoy breathtaking view of both Mt. Iwate and Mt. Hachimantai.  The spring water is milky white and it contains sulfur that is effective in treating neuralgia, digestive disorders, diabetes, hypertension, various skin conditions, poor circulation, etc.

[ Information ]
Address : Kitanomata, Matsuoyoriki, Hachimantai,
Iwate Phone : 090-1495-0950
Hours: 8AM – 6PM
Admission: 600 Yen
Web: http://www.toshichi.com/index.html (Japanese only)

Fly me to the ONSEN

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“To an onsen!”
This was what most WAttention readers said when asked where they’d like to go when they visit Japan. There are more than 2,400 formally registered hot springs all over Japan.
The number will double if you include private onsens or those that are currently being drilled. So you’ll have plenty of choices when it comes to which onsen to visit. You can go to practically any part of Japan to enjoy an onsen.

What is an onsen or a hot spring?

Onsen technically means either a place or phenomenon where hot water springs from the ground. According to “the hot spring law”, onsen water must have temperatures of above 25℃ in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and South Africa, above 20℃ in European countries like Italy and France, and above 21 ℃ in USA. The water must also have at least more than one of 18 compounds, including manganese, ion and radium salt, to qualify it as a hot spring. Often in Japan, the springs have much higher levels of such compounds than required.

Read also: Japanese Bathing For Beginners

Each onsen location offers different water types and qualities – such as carbonate springs, sulfur springs or intense salt springs – but a common characteristic among them is the rich content of minerals in the water that is known to be beneficial for health; it can give you smoother skin, ease stiff shoulders or even aid in slimming. The medicinal value of these hot springs have been recognised since ancient times, and have been known to alleviate symptoms like nerve-related pains, excessive sensitivity to cold, diabetes, ringworm and so on. Traditionally in Japan, many who hope to cure chronic diseases often immerse themselves in therapeutic baths called “tooji”, and stay for longer periods at such spas.

Charming open-air hot springs – “roten-buro”

Can you imagine dipping yourself in an open-air hot spring bath – with the wind rustling past and sunlight bathing you – as you soak in the surrounding scenic beauty? This is a quintessential “roten-buro” experience, whether you’re enjoying the lush greens of summer, the splendid bright colours of autumn, quiet snow scenes in winter or a night bath under a starry sky. Relaxing in a hot spring bath and falling in love with the scenery around you makes for a memorable experience.

Japan is blessed with many hot springs, each with a distinct characteristic. Here are some of the more popular places:

turunoyuTsurunoyu (crane’s hot water), a part of Nyuto hot springs (Akita Prefecture), is situated in a deep mountain and earned its name from an old local folklore as a place where cranes used to go to nurse their wounds. This is a very popular place because visitors love the unspoiled natural beauty of the mountains while relaxing in the milky hot spring with a sulfurous content. Many foreign travellers come here from all over the world.

 

kuroneiwaburoKuroneiwa-buro (Shizuoka Prefecture) is located by the sea and has an open atmosphere. It is a wonderful spot to enjoy the scenery of the vast ocean spread right in front of you while you soak in the hot spring. The scent of the ocean and sound of waves add to the sense of relaxation. It’s a mixed bathing place, but don’t worry! You can wrap a towel around yourself when entering the bath. The hours between 19:00 and 21:00 are allocated exclusively to ladies.

 

shirahoneShirahone (Nagano Prefecture) is a public open-air hot spring at the confluence of two rivers – the Yuzawa and the Yukawa. Surrounded by a forest of broadleaf trees, the autumn scenes are simply breathtaking, creating a heavenly experience when bathing during this season.

 

 

Mixed bathing is a part of time-honoured Japanese culture

You may be astonished and even feel repulsed, but don’t be, because this has been a common custom since the Edo period (1603-1868). Public baths have served as social gathering places, where everyone – including men and women, old and young – enjoyed each other’s company. In those days, hot springs were meant for locals who knew each other very well, and would uninhibitedly scrub each other’s back while enjoying local gossip. Mixed bathing in modern days is the legacy of this custom in agrarian Japan. Many historic hot springs, such as Houshi Onsen (known to be 1,300 years old) and Lamp no Yado Aoni Onsen are meant for mixed bathing.

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Lamp no Yado Aoni Onsen
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Houshi Onsen

One good aspect of mixed bathing is that the whole family or a couple can take a bath together. Nowadays, the tendency to prefer mixed baths is getting popular among young women. Some would say that they felt shy in the beginning, but with their boyfriends nearby, they felt very safe. Others don’t enjoy hot springs when they have to be separated into single-sex sections. “Going to an onsen on a weekend is a special occasion for us. We enjoy bathing in an onsen together.”

Enjoying a dip together with friends in an onsen to chat or to enjoy the view would definitely make for a memorable holiday.

Reserved open-air onsen, gaining popularity

For those of you who find bathing with total strangers totally unacceptable, there is a solution! You can reserve an area in a hot spring – either open-air or indoor – exclusively for you and your loved ones. Many inns and hotels offer rooms with these exclusive onsens.

Here are a few inns and hotels that offer private open-air onsen:

Yufuin Hot Spring – Meien to Meisui no Yado Baien

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Private-use hot springs: Yes
Rooms with open-air baths: Yes

Oita in northeast Kyushu is sometimes referred to as the “Onsen Prefecture”, and this resort located in a sprawling 30,000 square meters garden with two hot spring sources is abundant in nature. Amidst the colorful plum trees and brooks teeming with dancing fireflies, stay in luxurious individual detached houses—many of which have private open-air baths. Or for a scenic change, the simple thermal spring and sodium bicarbonate saline spring public onsens boasts one of the best views of Mt. Yufu in the north. For music and movie lovers, come in the summer when Yufuin hosts a number of such festivals.

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Access:
Take the Oita Kotsu bus from Oita Airport to JR Yufuin Station, or take the JR Limited Express Yufu train from JR Hakata Station to JR Yufuin Station. A 5-min. taxi ride from the station.

WEB:
http://yufuin-baien.com (Japanese)

Lake Toya Hot Spring – The Lake View Toya Nonokaze Resort

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Private-use hot springs: Yes
Rooms with private view spa: Yes

With views of Nakajima Island and Mt. Yotei (also known as Hokkaido’s Mt. Fuji) across the serene lake waters, and active volcano Mt. Usu in the south, Lake Toya is perhaps the most scenic spa resort in Hokkaido. Enjoy the balance of tradition and convenience with their wide selection of Japanese-Western style rooms, all of which face the lake, and some of which include a private view spa. Along with the top floor public spas, featuring chloride spring, sulfate spring, sodium bicarbonate saline spring, the private onsens are perfect for catching the evening fireworks shows on the lake between April and November.

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Access:
Take the JR Rapid Airport Train from New Chitose Airport to Minami Chitose, then take the JR Limited Express from Minami Chitose to JR Toya Station. A 15-min. taxi ride from the station.

WEB:
http://en.nonokaze-resort.com/

Beppu Hot Spring – Umikaoru Yado Hotel New Matsumi

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Private-use hot springs: Yes
Rooms with open-air baths: Yes

Known for its “Hell Tour” of eight multi-colored hot springs, Beppu produces the most hot spring water in the nation, and is perhaps Japan’s most famous onsen. At Hotel New Matsumi, sea, spa and sky combine as you overlook the Beppu Bay in all its glory. Commanding views of the ocean can be found on the top floor outdoor onsen as the soft breeze caresses your face, or from many of the rooms where you can conveniently dine kaiseki style on the freshest foods the bay has to offer. For a private dip, submerge yourself in the sodium bicarbonate saline spring waters in the private rock bath, or the open air ceramic (porcelain) baths attached to your room.

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Access:
Take the JR Limited Express Sonic train from JR Hakata Station to JR Beppu Station. A 10-min. walk from the station.

WEB:
http://new-matsumi.com/english/index.html

Noboribetsu Hot Spring – Takinoya

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Private-use hot springs: No
Rooms with open-air baths: Yes

Surrounded by the lush greenery of Shikotsu-Toya National Park in southwestern Hokkaido, Noboribetsu is heralded as one of the world’s most extraordinary hot spring resorts, boasting nine types of water. With four of these—salt/saline spring, iron-rich ferruginous spring, radium spring, and sulphur spring—sourced from the nearby Jigokudani Valley, Takinoya is an ideal hide away for physical healing. The three onsens here come with a variety of beautiful backdrops, including rich forestry and a beautifully manicured Japanese garden. Though lively in the spring and summer, winter also makes for a great quiet escape, under the gentle cover of snowfall.

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Access:
Take the JR Limited Express from New Chitose Airport to JR Noboribetsu Station. A 10-min. taxi ride from the station.

WEB:
http://takinoya.co.jp/ (Japanese)

Kawabaonsen – Yutorian

Experience Japan’s original surroundings at this hot spring lodge just 2 hours from Tokyo

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Kawaba Village in Gunma Prefecture, which is blessed with good quality onsen water, is where the elegant ryokan Yutorian – rich in history and nature – is located. What is unique about this place is not just the fact that the kayabuki building was constructed using kayabuki from all over Japan, and that it comprises “Annex Yuzan” which prides itself for its view from 634 meters above sea level, but the way of getting around via battery-run carts and monorails is also unique. The onsen water here is known to be highly effective in beautifying the skin.

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Spacious suites over 100m2 wide, complete with their own outdoor hot springs.

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A kaiseki dinner at Yutorian featuring local produce in all 11 dishes.

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Address:
Gunma Prefecture
Tonegun, Kawaba Village, Yuhara 451-1

WEB:
http://kawabata-yutorian.jp (Japanese)

Yakushionsen – Hatago

Enjoy a hidden onsen with character at Yakushionsen Hatago

An old country house sprawling over 23,000 sq m and a reconstruction of the village days of old in Japan, Kayabuki no Sato is a popular ryokan just two-and-a-half hours from Tokyo. Set amidst the glory of nature, one can enjoy natural spring water that has been gushing forth for over 200 years here. There are two types of rooms, the “yasuragikan” which comes with a partially open-air cedar bath, and the “seseraginokan” which is a new block along the stream. A kaiseki meal cooked over a “irori”(hearth) using local produce is very popular.

Enjoy a dip in this outdoor onsen with a view of the waterfall right before your eyes.

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All “yasuragikan” rooms come with an open-air bath. Japanese rooms with a hearth-space and another separate room.

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Enjoy the ambience of a hearth and the taste of local produce.

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Address:
Gunma Prefecture
Agatsumagun Higashiagatsumamachi, Motojuku 3330-20

WEB:
http://www.yakushi-hatago.co.jp/en/

Gero Hot Spring – Gero Onsen Yamagataya

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Private-use hot springs: Yes
Rooms with open-air baths: Yes

Named one of Japan’s top three onsens back in the Edo era, this region is still renowned for its ancient hot springs, with footbaths, public spas, and ryokans scattered all across town. The simple thermal spring waters here are known commonly as the “springs for the beautiful”, dating back to the 10th century, and Gero Onsen Yamagataya has been providing numerous ways to enjoy them for 180 years. Rest at the outdoor spa while surrounded by bamboo and maple trees, or listen to the soothing sound of the streaming Hida River from the private onsens. If you come in autumn, you can also catch amateur kabuki performances in town.

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Access:
Take the Limited Express Hida train from Nagoya Station to Gero Station. A shuttle bus is provided at the station.

WEB:
http://yamagata-ya.co.jp/lg_en/

Hakone Yumoto Hot Springs – Mikawaya Ryokan

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Private-use hot springs: Yes
Rooms with open-air baths: Yes

Collectively known as the “Hakone Seventeen Springs”, Hakone has been a favorite holiday onsen resort for nearby Tokyoites in particular since the Meiji era. For a classical Japanese inn that has been drawing artists and celebrities since 1883, Mikawaya Ryokan best maintains the historic atmosphere here while providing modern amenities like western toilets. Get a rare glimpse of its Meiji style bath with umbrella roofing, or gaze at the stars from the recently renovated large public bath. With the low alkaline hypotonic spring waters and simple thermal spring waters, your stress and fatigue will surely be relieved. Or for some onsen fun, head to water amusement park Hakone Kowakien Yunessun just a 3-min. walk away, where you can take a dip in sake, coffee, wine and more!

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Access:
Take the bus from JR Odawara Station towards Motohakone/Hakonemachi, and get off at the Houraien bus stop. A 1-min. walk from the bus stop.

WEB:
http://www.hakone-mikawaya.com/language/09en.htm

Hida Takayama Hot Spring – Hanaougi Bettei Iiyama

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Private-use hot springs: Yes
Rooms with open-air baths: Yes

Just a 50-min bus ride from World Heritage site Shirakawa-go, explore Hida Takayama’s charming townscape at this secluded 17-room ryokan. Hanaougi Bettei Iiyama offers a personal touch, with lovely wooden architecture from local trees, and even assigns a serving lady to take care of you from arrival to departure. And thanks to the spring waters 1,200m underground here, you can soak in the silky sodium bicarbonate saline spring waters in your room’s onsen and the public and private spas. The bi-annual Takayama Festival—considered one of Japan’s most beautiful—makes a trip here in the spring or fall ideal, while the melt-in-your-mouth local Hida beef is delicious all year round.

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Access:
Take the Limited Express Hida train from Nagoya Station to JR Takayama Station, then take the free shuttle bus from the station.

WEB:
http://www.hanaougi.com/english/

Gora Hot Spring – Gora Tensui

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Private-use hot springs: Yes
Rooms with open-air baths: Yes

Take a picturesque ride along the Hakone Tozan Railway to its final stop, Gora, 550m high in Hakone’s mountains. Just a minute walk from the station, this stylish resort welcomes you with a footbath café and bar where you can dip your feet while sipping on a cool drink. Take your pick of eight styles of rooms, as well as two private onsens, including the “Myojin no Yu” microbubble function bath. This frothy spa offers a panoramic view of Mt. Myojogatake, towering at 924m, which lights up with a flaming “大” character and bursting fireworks on Aug. 16 for the Hakone Gora Summer Festival Omojiyaki—an awe-inspiring sight!

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Access:
Take the Hakone Tozan Line from JR Odawara Station to JR Gora Station. A 1-min. walk from the station.

WEB:
http://www.gora-tensui.com (Click on “English” site)

Fun Onsens

Even animals in Japan can’t resist a luxurious dip in an onsen. Have fun watching the onsen monkeys dip in the outdoor onsen till their faces turn redder than usual, or the capybaras monkeying around in their mandarin orange onsen.

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For out of this world onsens, do the Beppu Onsen “hell tour” of various coloured onsens!

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Read our full article on the Beppu Onsen “hell tour” here :
http://www.wattention.com/do-the-hell-tour-at-beppu-onsen/

 

Jigokudani Monkey Park
Nagano Prefecture
http://www.jigokudani-yaenkoen.co.jp/english/html/top_e.htm

Izu Shaboten Park
Shizuoka Prefecture
http://izushaboten.com/

Beppu Hell Tour
Oita Prefecture
http://www.beppu-jigoku.com/

Tohoku Secluded Hot Springs: Lamp no Yado Aoni Onsen

Away from modern life

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Quality hot spring are scattered throughout the mountainous Aomori Prefecture, but for the most authentic experience, head over to Lamp no Yado Aoni Onsen. The writer of this article has been to many different hot springs throughout Japan, but calls this the real deal.

That doesn’t mean it has the most gorgeous looking bath or spectacular ryokan attached to it, but actually kind of the opposite…hear me out!

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Located along Aoni Valley deep in the mountains of Aomori, every twist your bus or car makes up to the mountain, is a step away from modern society. It was only the beginning of the winter during my visit, but thick snow had already piled up so much it wasn’t hard to believe that Aomori is the snowiest city on earth.

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While too white to be true during winter, nature brings much more to these mountains than just snow. During autumn, the area is known for its golden foliage, and expect lots of fresh verdure as well as bright hydrangea flowers during the summer. The ryokan itself is surrounded by some sakura trees which are usually in full blossom during May, a bit later than in most other parts of Japan because of the long winters.

The moment you arrive at Lamp no Yado, which translates itself as “Inn of Lamps”, you will realize that you have come to a true mountain retreat completely surrounded by nature.

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Heading inside the ryokan, you make a slip in time to a more traditional Japan, completely untouched by the invasion of convenience stores and hamburgers. Electricity here is scarce and the whole ryokan is lit only by oil lamps, which add an authentic touch to the Japanese style rooms.

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Expect no power sockets in your room, but consider it a small price you pay to experience something truly unique.

The mountain vegetables and freshwater fish make for a divine, healthy meal that will allow one to appreciate the blessings of nature.

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Dinner at Lamp no Yado

The fish are grilled on an irori, a traditional Japanese hearth, which together with the tatami mats, a Japanese wooden table and your yukata (the kimono you wear at the inn), create an atmosphere that is about as Japanese as it gets.

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Lamp no Yado comes with a total of 4 different baths. One of these baths is a rotenburo, or open-door bath. The lukewarm water allows one to stay in for a long time without getting too hot. Ladies should note that this bath is gender free, which was more common in the old days in Japan. Special ladies only hours are available from 11am to 12pm and from 5pm to 6pm.

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Lamp no Yado’s open-door bath

The other 3 inside baths each look at the scenery from a different angle. The scent of the large wooden tubs add a lovely fragrance to the hot water. Ladies can feel at ease as men and women go in separate baths here.

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Lamp no Yado’s indoor bath

According to the owner, the natural hot spring water here is not only good for the body, but also has the power to “make a love that has cooled down hot again”. I believe that it is not only the water, but the unforgettable experience Aoni Onsen Lamp no Yado provides as a whole, that brings the romantic inside one. While its inconvenient location and lack of electricity make it a destination that is certainly not for everyone, if you appreciate a truly secluded hot spring far away from the hustle and bustle of modern society, this is one of the best mountain retreats to forget about the stress and worries that come with modern life. A relaxing soak in the middle of nature together with the precious people in your life next to you here, will be a lifetime memory for sure.

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Do the “Hell Tour” at Beppu Onsen

Beppu in Oita Prefecture is probably the most famous onsen resort in Japan, producing the most hot spring water than any other area. The type of hot spring water varies on the location of the onsen, such as whether it is near the sea or the mountain.

Other than soaking in a hot spring, a popular activity is to do the Jigoku Meguri, or Hell Tour. There are a total of 8 Hell Hot Springs in an array of colors, but there probably isn’t a need to visit all of them unless you prefer to watch animals in hot springs than dip in one yourself. Here is a selection of six of them.

LAKE OF BLOOD 

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The high temperature of the hot spring water here (about 78 degrees) and the resulting volume of iron oxide and magnesium oxide in the water gives it its blood red colour.

SEA OF HELL

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Formed from a volcanic explosion around 1,200 years ago, this hot spring is nearly 98 degrees Celsius and the high content of radium iron sulphate gives the water its turquoise color.

SHAVEN MONK’S HEAD HELL 

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The bubbles forming in this hot spring of grey mud are said to look like the shaven head of  a monk. As the water temperature here hits around 99 degrees Celsius, dipping in this onsen is not advised, however, a foot bath facility is available on premise. There’s also a public bath next door with various pools to dip in.

WHITE POND HELL 

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This steaming milky white hot spring lake is surrounded by a Japanese garden and has an aquarium with rare tropical fish such as the man-eating piranha.

TORNADO HELL 

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This geyser erupts every 30-40 minutes for up to 10 minutes at a time, reaching around 50m in height.

MONSTER MOUNTAIN HELL 

 

 

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Over 80 crocodiles and alligators inhabit this hot spring which was the first hot spring facility to rear crocodiles over 90 years ago.

 

 

 

Onsen Oasis: Kinugawa Nioson Plaza

An onsen for everyone, with everyone

Kinugawa is a popular onsen retreat in Tochigi Prefecture, located near famous world heritage site Nikko. In the old days, it was a sacred onsen only for monks and Daimyo  (feudal lords) after their prayers in Nikko. Today many spas, ryokans and hotels are located along the leafy valley of Kinugawa.

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Other than onsens, a wide arrange of activities can be enjoyed here. Take a leisurely boat trip downstream or go whitewater rafting along the Kinugawa river. Also be sure to visit the Tobu World Square, a museum park where famous buildings and world heritages have been rebuilt on a 1/25 scale.

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Tokyo Skytree is huge even when its 25 times smaller!

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Located along the Kinugawa river, Nioson Plaza is a great place for families or couples to stay and soak in an onsen for a one or two day trip to combine with Nikko. The traditional tatami rooms here create an authentic atmosphere, and the romantic view of the river from the outdoor baths while soaking in the 100 percent natural onsen water is amazing.

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One of the outside baths is entered with a swimsuit and is gender free. That means that you can enjoy this great onsen experience as a couple or even with the whole family!

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Another outside bath is a real Japanese riverboat filled with onsen water. How about staring at the boats descending the Kinugawa river from your own boat?

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*Click here for an explanation on how to take a Japanese bath for beginners!


Kinugawa Onsen Nioson Plaza

Location: Kinugawaonsen Ohara 371-1 Nikko, Tochigi

Access: 10-min by taxi from Kinugawa Onsen Station (Tobu Line)

URL: http://www.niousonplaza.com/ (Japanese)

Japanese Bathing For Beginners

A step-by-step bathing lecture

For the Japanese, bathing is not just done with the pure purpose of cleansing one’s body. Taking a good bath relaxes both the body and soul, and is seen as one of life’s major pleasures along with gourmet and entertainment.  Be it an old-fashioned sento (public bath) or a luxury onsen (hot spring) resort, visiting a Japanese public bath should be on the list of any tourist in Japan. However, the majority of Japanese bathhouses have little to no English explanations, let alone English speaking staff. Heading into a bathhouse without any knowledge on the subject will leave you feeling naked, literally. 

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Although it is generally understood that a foreigner is unaware of the Japanese bathing etiquette and rules, seeing you do things right will make the locals surrounding you genuinely happy. To make sure you can enjoy your soak without having to worry, here’s a fail-proof step-by-step guide on public bathing in Japan!

*Note that some details may slightly vary depending on the bathhouse.

STEP 1: SHOES OFF

Before you take off your clothes, take off your shoes!

Just like when entering a Japanese house, entering a bathhouse starts with taking off your shoes. Most bathhouses have shoe lockers to put your shoes in.

Before heading into the bath, pay for the fee at the reception counter, or bandai in Japanese. Depending on the bathhouse, shampoo, soap, a towel etc. need to be purchased here as well in case you did not bring your own. Note that luxury onsen usually have shampoo, soap and more provided inside the bath.

STEP 2 ENTER THE RIGHT DOOR

Unless there is only one mixed-gender bath (which is uncommon in Japan), a Japanese bathhouse usually has both a male and female bath. Two separate entrances for these baths have a noren, or curtain which indicates for which gender it is. In most cases the male bath curtain is colored blue while the female bath curtain is colored red.
However, this is not always the case, so you are advised to memorize the kanji (Chinese characters as used in the Japanese language) for male and female to make sure you don’t enter the wrong bath. 男 (otoko) means male while 女 (onna) stands for female.

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STEP 3 UNDRESS YOURSELF

A Japanese bath should be entered completely naked. Don’t keep on your T-shirt or trunks, and refrain from wearing swimwear. As you share your baths with others, entering the bath completely undressed is considered more hygienic. Also, be sure that you put all your clothes and belongings in the provided lockers, and check if none of your belongings are left on the changing room floor. Once you are ready, take a small towel to wash your body and enter the bath, and don’t forget to close the sliding door behind you.

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STEP 4 CLEAN YOUR BODY FIRST

Although the spacey, hot-steaming bath-tub might be tempting, don’t jump in right away (jumping is forbidden anyway). Cleansing your body at the showers first is probably the most important etiquette in a Japanese bathhouse. While it is common to stand under a shower in most foreign countries, Japanese tend to sit in front of the shower on a small stool. Don’t stand under your shower here as you will splash water on the people surrounding you. Put soap on your small towel and rub your body, but rinse yourself well and be sure that no soap or shampoo is left on your body or towel once you go in the bath.

STEP 5 ENTER THE BATH

It is now finally time to enter the bath and relax. Letting out a sigh of pleasure is allowed and something you will see the locals doing, but please refrain from doing the following:

1. Entering the bath with shampoo or soap on your body.

2. Diving, swimming or splashing the water.

3. Putting your small towel or other belongings inside the water. Your small towel should be rested on your head, or put it on the rim of the bath, but be sure that it does not fall inside.

STEP 6 DON’T MAKE THE FLOOR WET, AND DRINK MILK AFTERWARDS

Back in the clothing room, dry your body at the entrance to make sure that you aren’t dripping water on the floor as you head back to your locker. Once you have put your clothes back on, take all your belongings with you and exit the bath.
By the way, did you know that the Japanese like to end their bathing experience with a bottle of cold fresh milk? Although this is of course not a rule nor an etiquette, doing as the Japanese do will largely enrich your experience!

So, follow these unspoken rules to make the best of your public bath visit, because there’s no point crying over spilled milk afterwards, is there?

Onsen Oasis: Yumori no Sato

Tokyo’s best soak even Tokyoites aren’t aware of

People from Tokyo often head out to other prefectures in search of “hidden hot springs” deep in the mountains to refresh their weary bodies and souls. 

But believe it or not, Tokyo has a natural “hidden” hot spring of its own that can compete with the best hot springs in the country – and it’s just a 30 minute ride away from Shinjuku.

Even many Tokyoites are not aware of this hidden gem, so you can enjoy your soak peacefully and quietly.


The Yumori no Sato Hot Spring is located in Chofu, a residential area west of Tokyo which you can reach by taking the Keio Line from Shinjuku.

From Chofu Station, take a 10 minute bus ride headed for the Jindaiji temple, which is well worth a visit by itself – even if only for the soba noodles, a a specialty of the area since the Edo period.

The hot spring is just 5 minute walking distance from here. Walk down the street forking right from Jindaiji Temple, with Soba Restaurant Kiyoshi on the corner.

Once you reach this hot spring oasis, you will be treated by what I think is Tokyo’s best and most authentic soak. I have been to countless hot springs and bathhouses in Tokyo, but this is the one I keep coming back to!

The water you soak in gushes from 1,500 meters under the ground, and contains various natural minerals and substances – such as humic acids that makes your skin feel silky smooth – resulting in a deep black water color.

The leafy natural surroundings will give you the illusion that you are at a hot spring somewhere in Japan’s countryside.

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And to complete your authentic soaking experience, how about a bottle of cold milk or coffee-flavored milk after your refreshing bath just like what the locals do?

You can also choose to enjoy a wide array of treatments at the massage salon, ranging from authentic oriental to esthetic massages.

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If you have been looking for an onsen retreat in Tokyo’s concrete jungle, Yumori no Sato is your definitive answer!

*Click here for an explanation on how to take a Japanese bath for beginners!

Spot information

Name: Yumori no Sato

Price range: 1000 yen

Hours: 10 am – 10 pm

Location: Jindaiji Motomachi 2-12-2, Chofu

URL: http://public.oidejapan.jp/yumorinosato/

Onsen Oasis: Arima Onsen

1,400 years of history hidden in the outskirts of modern Kobe

After introducing two of Japan’s three oldest hot springs (Dogo Onsen in Ehime Prefecture and Nanki Shirahama Onsen in Wakayama Prefecture) it is now time for the last one.
Last but not least, here is Arima Onsen of Hyogo Prefecture.

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Starting from Nihonshoki (a book of classical Japanese history) in 631, there are many ancient documents that mention Arima Onsen. From these documents we can learn that a monk in the 7th century helped develop Arima Onsen.
The connection between Arima Onsen and monks goes on in the 12th century, when the monk Ninsai came to rebuild Arima Onsen which had suffered from a natural disaster in 1097. He also established and ran 12 monk accommodations in the area, which is why a great number of the ryokan at Arima Onsen today have the word Bo (坊, monk) in their name.

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Onsen-ji (Onsen temple) with sakura blossom in spring

Arima Onsen can be found in the outskirts of Kobe city, hidden behind Mt. Rokko, away from the city center’s hustle and bustle. Given the fact that it is located in the mountains, the narrow roads in town can be quite steep.

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You can find the two public baths (Kin no Yu and Gin no Yu) on a short distance from Onsen-ji (Onsen temple) which marks the town center. Kin no yu, or golden bath has yellow-brown colored water from iron and salt. Gin no Yu, or silver bath, has transparent water and contains radium and carbonate. All of the other baths at Arima’s ryokan and bathing houses share either the same characteristics of Kin no yu or that of Gin no yu.

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Since the area is rich in carbonate, Arima Onsen is known for cider, carbonate rice crackers and cakes which can be purchased at the souvenir shops of traditional facade in the town center.

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Most of the luxury ryokan can be found in the mountains on a short distance from the town center. Enjoy tranquility, wonderful scenery and a fantastic warm bath!

*Click here for an explanation on how to take a Japanese bath for beginners!

Arima Onsen

Location: Higashimonguchi 1401, Arimacho, Kita, Kobe, Hyogo

Access: Get off at Arima Onsen Station (Kobe Electric Railway Arima Line)

Onsen Oasis: Dogo Onsen

Get spirited away at one of Japan’s oldest hot springs

At Dogo Onsen in Matsuyama City, Ehime Prefecture, you soak in the historic atmosphere just as much as the hot spring itself. While Matsuyama as a whole has become a vibrant, modern city, the Dogo area remains the laid-back hot spring town it has been for over 3,000 years.
It is said to be Japan’s oldest hot spring together with Nanki Shirahama Onsen in Wakayama Prefecture and Arima Onsen in Hyogo Prefecture.

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At Dogo Onsen Honkan

When stepping out of Matsuyama City’s streetcar at Dogo Onsen Station, you make a time slip to the late Meiji Era, with a quaint old Western-influenced station building and a nostalgic locomotive. Here, you can hop on the “Botchan” locomotive named after the novel by Natsume Soseki, who used to frequent the onsen when he was working nearby as a teacher. The foot baths under Japanese parasols at Hojo-en park complete the package for a classic hot spring station.

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Standing in the center of this hot spring town is Dogo Onsen Honkan, which is without a doubt the most imposing public bathhouse I have ever seen. The 1894 wooden architecture, looks gorgeous enough to be mistaken for a small castle.

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Ghibli Studio fans might notice that the building’s facade has a mystic feeling to it similar to that of Aburaya, the bathhouse in “Spirited Away”. This is not a coincidence; Ghibli Studio has acknowledged that Aburaya was roughly modeled on Dogo Onsen Honkan.

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Not only the facades have spirit in common. Much like Aburaya, the inside of Dogo Onsen Honkan is a maze with many different baths and other rooms. The two main baths go by the divine names of “Bath of the gods” and “Bath of the spirits”, but probably the most famous – and at the same time least used – bath has to be the Yushinden, a bath exclusive to the Imperial Family, which can be viewed by guests.

After you’ve had your fill of the bath, wrap yourself up in a yukata and cool-down at the tatami salon with some Japanese tea and dango (a rice-cake sweet), or observe the street view from a private room that novelist Natsume Soseki used to relax in. 

In front of Dogo Onsen Honkan, is a cozy hot spring town where one can walk around in a yukata without standing out from the crowd. Souvenir shops and restaurants fill the nearby shopping arcade, and the Dogo-Biru-Kan serves local brewed beer you won’t easily find in Tokyo, let alone your home country.

dogobeerAnother thing that you might want to note on, is that while the Dogo Onsen Honkan is by far the most popular bathhouse among tourists, locals tend to prefer to soak at the Tsubaki no yu nearby because it is cheaper and less crowded. If the Dogo Onsen Honkan is too full, how about rubbing soap and shoulders with the locals?

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*Click here for an explanation on how to take a Japanese bath for beginners!

Spot Information

Name: Dogo Onsen

Location: Dogomachi 1, Matsuyama, Ehime (Dogo Onsen Station)

Access: From JR Matsuyama Station, take the Jonan Line streetcar for Dogo Onsen Station.

Onsen Oasis: Zao Dairotenburo

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King of Onsens – The Princess Water hot spring

Some hot springs are so good you never forget them. For me, the Zao Dairotenburo Hot Spring in Yamagata prefecture is one of those. A decade has passed since my trip there, but I can still remember thinking to myself excitedly, “So this is what a real onsen is like!” as the sulphuric hot spring smell became stronger and stronger and started to permeate the taxi as we ascended the mountain.

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What I saw upon arrival, was beyond my expectations. While famous throughout the country, Zao Dairotenburo Hot Spring has managed to resist modernization into a tourist attraction, and I mean that in the very best possible way.

Unlike other man-made onsens that are designed and dugged, this is a natural onsen around which some basic structures have been built to allow people to enjoy it – so don’t expect any saunas, showers or any drink dispensing machines!

All you will find, is the huge crater-shaped natural stone baths located on the top of a mountain hill surrounded by mountain forests. As you soak in the steaming hot, silky smooth, milky water, you realize that people must have come to enjoy this hot spring in the exact same way for centuries.

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The milky water feels like music to your skin, or rather makes your skin sing! This is not is not just one’s imagination, as the water comes from a natural sulfur spring with strong acidity. The water is so good for softening and whitening the skin that it has become known as “Princess water”.

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The Zao Dairotenburo Hot Spring is open from mid-April to the end of November. You will be mesmerized by either fresh verdure or golden foliage depending on the time of the year, but whenever you visit, this hot spring and its surrounding nature are well worth you visit and make for an authentic experience you will not forget!

*Click here for an explanation on how to take a Japanese bath for beginners!

Spot information

Name: Zao Dairotenburo Hot Spring

Price: 470 yen

Hours: 6 am – 7 pm (clost from end November to mid-April)

Location: Zao Onsen 832, Yamagata

URL: http://www.joy.hi-ho.ne.jp/ma0011/T-Yamagata01.htm (Japanese)