Memos from Asia

Onsen -Japanese Hot Springs- Places Worth Visiting

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Onsen (温泉) is the Japanese name for natural hot spring, which also includes the facilities and traditional inns situated in the vicinity of a hot spring. Japan is a volcanically active country, so there is no surprise in the amount of onsen scattered throughout the main islands.

There are many famous ryokan (traditional inns) and hotels around Japan that include onsen options, private and public. Visiting hot springs is almost a tradition for Japanese people, and it offers relaxing and rejuvenating experience.

Yufuin Onsen

Golden Scale Lake and Yufu Mountain

The Yufuin Onsen is located in Oita Prefecture and offers a spectacular landscape view of twin-peaked Mount Yufu. Yufuin Onsen town has a variety of authentic Japanese inns as well as more contemporary and modern inns. It has been a popular holiday destination for Japanese people for a long time, and gradually becomes a well-loved place for foreign tourists.

In this town, onsens are scattered around the area within more hidden alleyways, while surrounded by restaurants, gift stores, and cafes on the main streets. Mountain peaks and grass fields enclose Yufuin Onsen town, stretching into the horizon and offering the beautiful picturesque view this place is famous for!

If you prefer to visit quiet countryside and explore small Japanese towns, Yufuin Onsen town is a must visit place for this experience.

Shibu Onsen

Shibu Onsen, Japan: Historic ryokan and onsen line the main avenue of Shibu Onsen.

Have you ever heard of monkeys chilling in the hot springs in Japan? Maybe even seen photos? Most likely you have seen hot springs in Nagano Prefecture.

Japanese Snow Monkeys in Nagano, Japan.

Shibu Onsen in Nagano is widely known for its onsens as well as the famous Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park, where you can see Snow Monkeys roam freely around and take hot spring baths.

Other than that, Shibu Onsen offers a variety of hotels and ryokans with amazing facilities for tourists to stay. Most of the open-air onsens in this area can be used for free if you are staying in the inns. This place is a great choice if you want to enjoy relaxing hot springs and amazing landscapes.

Jigokudani Park, Yamanouchi, Nagano, Japan.

Kusatsu Onsen

Kusatsu Hot Springs, Japan

Located deep and high up on the mountains of the Gunma Prefecture, Kusatsu Onsen is regarded most famous natural onsen in Japan. It is widely known for the thousands of liters of hot sulfuric water flowing down from the mountains and rumored to “cure every illness but lovesickness”.

Yubatake onsen in Kusatsu

You can visit Kusatsu Onsen hot springs absolutely free of charge and enjoy this unique experience first hand. There are onsen resorts and traditional Japanese ryokans available, where you can stay overnight and get fully immersed into the atmosphere of hot springs and fresh air, as well as some cafes and shops.

Noboribetsu Onsen

Noboribetsu, Hokkaido

Located at the foot of Mount Hiyori in Hokkaido, Noboribetsu Onsen is considered to be one of the most famous onsen resorts in Japan. Jigokudani (Hell Valley) is the primary source of sulfur waters in the hot springs of this area. The waters are full of natural minerals, which are known to be relaxing and nurturing for the skin.

At Noboribetsu Onsen, there is a variety of spring water available for people to try, such as sulfur springs, iron springs, salt and aluminum springs. Every type of water offers different effects and serves distinct purposes.

If you plan visiting Hokkaido, try staying at Daiichi Takimotokan hotel, which provides an access to the most kinds of hot springs available at Noboribetsu area. There, everyone can find something special for them to enjoy!

Dogo Onsen

The oldest hot spring located in Matsuyama city, Ehime Prefecture, Japan.

Dogo Onsen in Ehime Prefecture became popular internationally due to being an inspiration for the bathhouse in Studio Ghibli’s anime Spirited Away. The main bathhouse at Dogo Onsen Honkan resembles a traditional Japanese castle and was constructed back in 19th century.

The Exterior of Dogo Onsen at night. The onsen is one of the oldest in the country and has over 1,000 years of history.

However, there are many other hot spring options for people to relax at and enjoy the stay. Unlike most other quiet onsen towns, Dogo Onsen is full of life – bustling, with colorful lanterns around the town and chatty people.

It is worth visiting not only for the amazing photo opportunity, but also for overall charm and sheer variety of hot spring baths.

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