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If you’re looking for a wellness getaway, Japan is a great destination. Not only are the Japanese people and culture incredibly welcoming and hospitable, but the country is also home to some of the best onsen towns in the world.
Onsen refers to natural hot springs that are believed to have healing properties, making them perfect for a relaxing vacation. If you’re interested in soaking in some therapeutic mineral water while enjoying breathtaking scenery, here are eight of the best onsen towns in Japan.
Kurokawa Onsen is a famous hot spring town, and it’s easy to see why. The area is home to over 30 stunning natural hot springs, many of which offer breathtaking views. The hot springs are surrounded by nature and a few onsens have indoor pools available too.
Purchase a wooden pass for a small fee to access three different outdoor baths over the course of your stay, but don’t forget to make time to enjoy the stone stairs, wooden buildings, shrines, and bridges throughout the quaint town as well.
Matsuyama is a popular destination thanks to Dogo Onsen Honkan, the location that inspired Hayao Miyazaki. Dogo Onsen has a long history in Japan and is said to have been used by the emperor himself. The spring water is very clear with a milky white appearance.
While soaking in the public onsen is enjoyable, make time to explore the town as well. Matsuyama Onsen boasts a castle and beautiful Matsuyama gardens. With its rich history and tradition, the city offers visitors a unique perspective on Japanese culture.
3. Beppu Onsen: Where the Japanese go
Beppu Onsen is one of Japan’s most popular hot spring resort towns. Located on the island of Kyshu, the entire town is home to eight different types of hot springs, each with its own unique health benefits.
The sulfurous hot springs are said to be good for skin conditions like eczema, while the mud springs are thought to relieve joint pain. The iron-rich waters of the Myoban hot springs are said to promote blood circulation, and the vapors from the OniISHI hot springs are said to help clear sinuses. Whichever springs you choose to go to, we are sure you’ll enjoy your time there. There are also plenty of public and foot baths throughout the city.
Kusatsu’s main attraction is a large number of natural hot springs, as well as a wide range of souvenir shops, restaurants, and other tourist attractions. You can soak in the springs, enjoy the views of the surrounding mountains, and even try your hand at some traditional Japanese activities.
Of course, no trip to Kusatsu Onsen would be complete without watching the famous yumomi performance. This traditional show uses long wooden paddles to slowly stir the hot spring water, creating a uniquely relaxing and therapeutic experience.
Kaga Onsen is a Japanese onsen town located in the scenic foothills of the Japanese Alps. The area is renowned for its natural beauty, and the hot springs are said to have healing properties. There are several different hot springs in and around the town center, and each one has its own unique character. Soak in these therapeutic waters but also leave time for hiking in the nearby mountains, exploring traditional temples, and sampling the local cuisine in Kaga.
Hakoneis is a town in Japan’s Kanagawa Prefecture, and it is one of the best places for hot spring baths. The springs are fed by water from Mount Hakone, an active volcano. The hot springs, created in part due to the volcanic activity, have been used for centuries for their therapeutic properties, and today there are many different ways to enjoy them. Visitors can soak in public baths, go for a swim in one of the several open-air baths, or even stay overnight at a ryokan (traditional Japanese inns).
Situated near Mount Fuji, Hakone offers stunning views and panoramic lookouts of the surrounding Japanese Alps. Hakone is also home to a number of temples and shrines, including the Hakone Shrine and the Edo era Odawara Castle, making it the perfect place to experience both relaxation and culture.
Atami is a beautiful seaside town on the Pacific Ocean, located just an hour from Tokyo by train for an easy day trip. There are many different hot springs to choose from, each with its own unique benefits. Visitors can also enjoy a variety of other activities, such as strolling through the beautiful botanical gardens or taking a cable car up to Atamiyama Park for stunning views of the city and surrounding countryside. Arrive in early spring for the best photos. Atami has the earliest plum blossoms of all of Japan.
If you’re looking for a truly unique hot springs experience, look no further than Ibusuki Onsen in Kagoshima Prefecture. Here, you can enjoy the rare experience of bathing in sand instead of water. Ibusuki Onsen is situated near the base of Mount Kaimondake in Southern Japan, and there are a number of sand baths located around the mountain. The sand is heated by natural hot springs, and it is said to have detoxifying and stress-relieving properties.
Once you’ve had your fill of bathing, be sure to explore some of the other attractions that Ibusuki Onsen has to offer. There are a number of hiking trails in the area, as well as a gorgeous beach where you can relax in the sun.
The onsens in Japan make for an ideal getaway for the health-conscious traveler. Which Japanese onsens do you want to visit first?