Because Japan is a country with so many volcanoes, groundwater is heated by the magma of the volcano, Onsen (Hot springs) springs out here and there. Currently, it is said that there are more than 3000 spa areas in Japan. Among them, there are many places popular among foreign tourists. On this page, I will introduce you the best hot springs in Japan in order from the north. Click on the map of each hot spring area, Google map will be displayed on a separate page.
The video below is Beppu Onsen. At Beppu Onsen, a huge amount of steam is rising beautifully.
Table of Contents
- 1 Toyako Onsen (Hokkaido)
- 2 Noboribetsu Onasen (Hokkaido)
- 3 Nyuto Onsen (Akita Prefecture)
- 4 Ginzan Onsen (Yamagata Prefectue)
- 5 Kusatsu Onsen (Gunma Prefecture)
- 6 Hakone (Kanagawa Prefecture)
- 7 Kawaguchiko Onsen
- 8 Okuhida Onsengo (Gifu prefecture)
- 9 Arima Onsen (Hyogo Prefecture)
- 10 Kinosaki Onsen (Hyogo Prefecture)
- 11 Beppu Onsen (Oita prefecture)
- 12 Yufuin Onsen (Oita Prefecture)
- 13 Kurokawa Onsen (Kumamoto Prefecture)
Lake Toya is the ninth largest lake in Japan located in the southwestern part of Hokkaido. This lake is approximately circular, about 11 kilometers east and west, 9 kilometers north and south. Toyako Onsen (Lake Toya Onsen) is located on the southern side of this lake. There are many relatively large hotels. From the guest rooms you may be able to look at Lake Toya. You can play boats on the lake.
Luxury hotel called The Windsor Hotel Toya Resort & Spa is located just outside the spa town. At this hotel, G8 summit was held in 2008. Toyako became famous for this summit. The Windsor Hotel Toya Resort & Spa has become famous as a hotel where the Summit was held. This hotel also has branches of French restaurants that have won 3 stars in the Michelin Guide. The hot spring facilities are also wonderful. If you want to experience a hot spring at a luxurious hotel, this hotel will be a choice.
Noboribetsu Onasen (Hokkaido)
If I choose the best 3 among the hot springs in Hokkaido, the third place is Yunokawa Onsen (Hakodate), the second is Toyako Onsen, and the first place is Noboribetsu Onsen.
Noboribetsu Onsen is one of the most popular hot springs in Japan. Approximately 10 types of hot springs are gushing up to 3000 liters per minute. Because you can enjoy various kinds of hot springs, Noboribetsu Onsen is said to be "department store of hot springs". There are many pitched hotels, some of which have various types of hot springs available. Just a short walk from the hot spring town, there is a crater called "Jigokudani (Valley of Hell)". A promenade is set up here. The smell of sulfur drifts, there is power.
Nobpribetsu Onsen is about 1 hour by bus from New Chitose Airport. It is relatively close to Sapporo, so I recommend you to add it to your itinerary of Hokkaido travel.
The official website of Noboribetsu Onsen is below. Although it is a site written in Japanese, when you select a language such as English, the displayed language will change.
Nyuto Onsen is located in the mountains in northern Honshu. It is located about 50 minutes by bus from Tazawako Station of JR Akita Shinkansen. There is no spa town here. Independent Ryokan (Japanese style hotel) is scattered in the mountains. Every Ryokan is an old traditional Japanese house and those outdoor baths are wonderful. I strongly recommend entering the outdoor bath of "Tsurunoyu" among Nyuto Onsen. This Ryokan is an old accommodation facility from the Tokugawa shogunate era. When you enter that outdoor bath, you will be impressed by the white hot springs that spring up from your feet.
If you go to Nyuto Onsen, you will realize that you have come deep into Japan. You may be caught up in a feeling of getting stuck in the old age of Japan. In winter, you can enjoy a wonderful snow scene.
Ginzan Onsen (Yamagata Prefectue)
Ginzan Onsen, like Nyuto Onsen, is located in the mountains in northern Honshu. Because it is an area with a lot of snow, if you go in winter, you can not only experience the hot springs in Japan, but also enjoy the snow scene adequately. Nyuto Onsen is not a spa town, but independent Ryokan is scattered. At Nyuto Onsen, you can feel full of nature in Japan. On the other hand, Ginzan Onsen is a spa town where Ryokans gathered. Here you can enjoy the nostalgic atmosphere of the old spa town. For Ginzan Onsen, I also introduced in the following article, so please refer if you do not mind.
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Kusatsu Onsen (Gunma Prefecture)
Kusatsu Onsen Resort is located about 190 km northwest of Tokyo. It is a big hot spring resort that represents Japan. It has been used for medical treatment from long ago.
At Kusatsu Onsen, more than 32,300 liters of hot springs are gushing out. In the center of Onsen Town is the sources of hot spring water called "Yubatake" (hot water field). The scene where a lot of hot spring water flows out is very powerful. Since the temperature of Kusatsu Onsen's hot water is more than 50 degrees Celsius, use the hot spring water after cooling once. In the individual baths, in the past, they stirred hot water with a wooden plate and cooled the water. Even now for tourists, kimono women gather an event to stir hot water with wooden boards.
There are lots of big hotels around Yubatake. There is a huge ski resort in the immediate vicinity. There are a lot of tourists entering the hot spring after enjoying skiing and snowboarding in winter.
Hakone (Kanagawa Prefecture)
Hakone is a mountainous area located about 100 kilometers southwest of Tokyo. On the west side there is Mt.Fuji. There are lots of ryokan (Japanese style hotel) and hotels all along this mountainous area. Because it is easy to come by train from Tokyo, it is crowded with many tourists.
Hakone is a resort with beautiful mountains and lakes. If you stay at a hotel in Hakone, you can enter the hot spring while enjoying the mountain scenery. Many hotels in Hakone have prepared outdoor baths. In addition to Ryokan and hotels, there are facilities dedicated to hot springs so you can go for a Hakone hot spring from Tokyo on a day trip.
The entrance of Hakone is Hakone Yumoto Station of the Odakyu Line. There are many hotels with hot spring facilities around this station, but from the Hakone Yumoto station I recommend that you ride the train (Hakone Tozan Railway) and cable car to the top of the mountainous area . From the cable car's terminal station, you can take a ropeway to the beautiful Lake Ashinoko. The ropeway passes near the crater called Owakudani in the photo above. You can also take a walk around this crater. Because there are hotels at various places in this mountainous area, by all means, please try to find a hotel with a good reputation.
Kawaguchiko Onsen is a generic term for hot springs scattered around Lake Kawaguchiko on the northern side of Mt. Fuji. Lake Kawaguchiko is a beautiful lake about 20 km / lap, and Mt. Fuji can be seen well from the shore of the lake.
Hotels with hot springs opened around Lake Kawaguchiko since the 1990s. So, Kawaguchiko Onsen is not well known in Japan. Speaking of hot springs near Mt. Fuji, many Japanese associate with Hakone or Atami. However, Kawaggushiko Onsen is very close to Mt. Fuji and you can see Mt. Fuji well. For this reason, it became famous among foreign tourists coming to Japan and is crowded with many foreigners.
Kawaguchiko Onsen is a generic term for hotels with hot springs, but it does not have a spa town. So, if you want to go to Kawaguchiko Onsen, please carefully choose which hotel is good. Some hotels have hot springs in individual rooms. You can look at the beautiful Mount Fuji from the hot spring in your room.
The mountainous area in northern part of Gifu Prefecture has been called "Hida" for a long time. Hida is the most mountainous area in Japan with Nagano Prefecture. There are many hot springs in this area. Among Hida, especially the outback is called "Okuhida" (Hida in the back). The hot springs villages in Okuhida have been told "Oku Hida Onsengo".
Okuhida Onsengo is a generic name for five hot spring villages of Hirayu, Fukuji, Shin-Hirayu, Tochio and Hodaka. Okuhida Onsengo is famous among those who like Onsen because there are wonderful outdoor baths surrounded by nature
Recently, the hot spring areas around JR Takayama station are increasingly called "Hida Takayama Onsen". Hidatakayama Onsen is popular among foreign tourists. The reason is that Takayama is a traditional beautiful city and it is a convenient place to go to the famous Shirakawago. Many tourists stay at hotels around Takayama station. However, Okuhida Onsengo is better quality of hot springs. If you want to experience a really wonderful Onsen, please go to Okuhida Onsengo.
I am from Gifu Prefecture, so I often go to this region. Besides Okuhida Onsengo, I also recommend Gero Onsen to you. Gero hot spring is located around JR Gero station. This station is south of Takayama station. The quality of hot springs in Gero Onsen is wonderful and it is conveniently close from Nagoya Station.
Arima Onsen is a hot spring representing West Japan. It is about an hour by train from Osaka. Arima Onsen is said to be the oldest hot spring in Japan. Many red-hot springs including iron are springing up in this spa town. Besides, a colorless hot spring is also spiraling. There are about 30 diverse hotels, so if you go to Osaka, you may add Arima Onsen to your itinerary.
Arima Onsen is located on the north side of the mountain "Rokkosan" which lies along the northern coast of Osaka bay. If you go to Arima Onsen, I recommend starting with Rokkosan and going from Rokkosan to Arima Onsen by a ropeway. From Rokkosan you can see the views of Osaka and Kobe. The view of the mountains you see from the ropeway is also surprisingly beautiful. I used to live in Kobe City, which is located south of Rokkosan. I often go to Rokkosan with my family on a day off and enjoy the view of Osaka bay. And I often took a ropeway. This course is a very familiar route for Japanese living in Osaka and Kobe. You should try experiencing hot springs on this course. For details, please see the official website below.
Kinosaki Onsen is a historical spa town on the Japan Sea side. Because it is located on the side of the Sea of Japan, in the winter, much snow falls due to moist air coming from the Sea of Japan. Therefore, if you go to Kinosaki hot spring in winter, you may be able to see a snow scene. If you can not see the snow scene you do not have to feel disappointed. At Kinosaki Onsen, you can eat very tasty crabs in winter. Kinosaki Onsen is famous not only for hot springs but also for crabs to be delicious in winter.
In Kinosaki onsen, a lot of Ryokan (Japanese style hotel) with hot springs are lined up around the small river. The scenery is very tasty. I also like the scenery in the evening of Kinosaki Onsen very much.
In addition, there are seven wonderful communal baths in this town. It is popular among tourists to take a walk through these communal baths and to take various baths. Many people stroll wearing a kimono called "Yukata". You can borrow Yukata at your Ryokan. Why do not you enjoy such a stroll at Kinosaki Onsen?
Beppu Onsen is a general name for hot springs located in Beppu City, west of Kyushu. In Beppu City there are hundreds of hot springs in large and small. The amount of spout of hot springs is said to be the best in Japan, in total. There are 8 big hot springs out of these, each with different color and quality of hot springs.
Approximately 8 million tourists come to Beppu Onsen annually. There are lots of big hotels to accommodate the large number of tourists. There are also many entertainment facilities such as bowling alley. As seen in the second picture above, there are sightseeing spots where crimson hot water containing iron is squirted, and it is crowded with tourists.
A tourist attraction I would recommend to you in Beppu city is the Yukemuri Observatory in the Kannawa district. This observation deck is located about 20 minutes by taxi from JR Beppu Station. There are only benches here. However, at night, you can enjoy the view of the illuminated spa town, as the picture above.
The map of Yukemuri Observatory is here.
Beppu holds a big festival called "Beppu Hatto Onsen Festival" for about a week each year in early April. At this time, many hot springs are open for free. In addition, as you can see in the photo above, the "Ogiyama Fire Festival" will also be held around April 1 to burn nearby mountains. This is an event that has been inherited to improve the growth of plants. If you go to the elevated grounds such as Yukemuri Observatory, you will surely be able to see the unforgettable sight.
Beppu Onsen is really big. Beppu is a representative of a spa town filled with entertainment elements. In contrast, Yufuin Onsen and Kurokawa Onsen below do not have huge hotels and bowling alleys. Yufuin Onsen and Kurokawa Onsen are suitable for those who wish to quietly experience Onsen while watching the mountain scenery. Whether you go to Beppu or go to a quiet hot spring resort like Yufuin, which one will you choose?
Yufuin Onsen (Oita Prefecture)
Yufuin is a very popular hot spring resort located in the west about 30 minutes by car from Beppu City. Yufuin has gained a high reputation, especially among women. There is neither a big hotel nor entertainment district in this hot spring resort. Instead, there are beautiful nature views and small Ryokan (Japanese style hotels). There are small museums, fashionable shops and tasty restaurants.
Individual Ryokans in Yufuin are not large in size, but the quality as accommodation facilities is high anywhere. The outdoor bath is beautiful and the food is delicious. It can be said that Yufuin Onsen is a resort that heals tired mind and body. Ryokan's accommodation rates are generally high. Still it is difficult to make a reservation, please make a reservation as soon as possible.
Kurokawa Onsen (Kumamoto Prefecture)
Kurokawa Onsen is a hot spring resort in the Aso area of Kumamoto Prefecture in central Kyushu. Like Yufuin, it is a very popular hot spring.
In the Kurokawa Onsen, the landscape of Japan's beautiful countryside is left. There are small Ryokans lined up around the clear stream. Most Ryokan have a wonderful outdoor bath, and those who stayed at this Onsen resort can also enter Ryokan's open-air bath where they are not staying.
When comparing Kurokawa Onsen and Yufuin, the Kurokawa Onsen is more in the mountains. If you want to enjoy the rural atmosphere, Kurokawa Onsen is better. However, Kurokawa Onsen has a bad transportation than Yufuin. In addition, Kurokawa Onsen is really difficult to book accommodation. If you want to go to Kurokawa Onsen, please be prepared soon.
If you want to enjoy walking around museums and shops to some extent, I recommend that you go to Yufuin instead of Kurokawa Onsen.
I appreciate you reading to the end.
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Bon KUROSAWA I have long worked as a senior editor for Nihon Keizai Shimbun (NIKKEI) and currently work as an independent web writer. At NIKKEI, I was the editor-in-chief of the media on Japanese culture. Let me introduce a lot of fun and interesting things about Japan. Please refer to this article for more details.