When it comes to relaxation and rejuvenation, nothing beats a good soak in the hot springs of Japan, known as onsen. Japan’s natural hot springs are not only a source of relaxation but are also believed to have medicinal properties that can soothe aches and pains, and even cure certain ailments.
With over 27,000 hot springs scattered throughout the country, finding the best onsen in Japan can be a daunting task. This guide will help you discover the top spots for relaxation and serenity in Japan.
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Best Onsen in Japan – Top Picks
1. Hakone Onsen – A Natural Wonderland
Nestled in the mountains of Hakone, just a short distance from Tokyo, lies one of Japan’s most famous onsen destinations. Hakone boasts over a dozen hot springs, each with its unique charm and atmosphere. Some of the best onsen in Hakone include:
- Tenzan Tohji-kyo – Known for its open-air rock baths and hot stone sauna, this onsen is perfect for those looking for a unique and traditional experience.
- Yunessun – This onsen is famous for its themed baths, including a coffee bath, green tea bath, and even a wine bath!
- Hakone Yuryo – If you’re looking for a more luxurious experience, Hakone Yuryo is the perfect choice. With private outdoor baths and stunning views of the surrounding mountains, you’ll feel like royalty while soaking in the warm waters.
2. Kusatsu Onsen – A Healing Haven
Located in the mountains of Gunma Prefecture, Kusatsu Onsen is known for its high-quality water that is said to have healing properties. The water is high in sulfur and is believed to have healing properties for a variety of ailments. The town has been a popular destination for onsen enthusiasts for centuries and is home to some of the best onsen in Japan. Here are some of the best onsen in Kusatsu:
- Netsunoyu – This onsen is located near the Yubatake and offers a variety of baths, including a rotenburo and a steam room. The water is said to have a healing effect on skin conditions. This onsen is famous for its high-temperature water, which can reach up to 52 degrees Celsius! The water is said to have healing properties and is perfect for those suffering from muscle and joint pain.
- Sainokawara Rotenburo – This onsen is located in a scenic valley and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains. The water is high in minerals and is perfect for those looking for a relaxing and rejuvenating experience.
- Yubatake – This onsen is located in the center of the town and is known for its large open-air bath. The water is constantly flowing and is considered one of the most therapeutic in Kusatsu.
- Kusatsu Now Resort Hotel – This hotel boasts one of the largest open-air baths in Japan and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains. With a variety of baths to choose from, including a sauna and jacuzzi, you’ll leave feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
3. Beppu Onsen – A Volcanic Wonderland
Located on the island of Kyushu, Beppu is one of Japan’s most famous onsen destinations. With over 2,000 hot springs, it’s easy to see why Beppu is known as a volcanic wonderland. Some of the best onsen in Beppu include:
- Beppu Onsen Hoyoland – This onsen is famous for its mud baths, which are said to have healing properties for the skin. The mud is rich in minerals and is perfect for those looking for a unique and therapeutic experience.
- Takegawara Onsen – This onsen is over 100 years old and has a traditional feel. The water is high in sodium chloride and is said to have a healing effect on joint pain.
- Hyotan Onsen – This onsen is famous for its sand baths, where you bury yourself in warm sand for 10-15 minutes. The sand is heated by natural hot springs and is said to have a detoxifying effect on the body.
4. Noboribetsu Onsen – A Relaxing Retreat
Noboribetsu Onsen is located on the island of Hokkaido and is known for its healing waters and serene atmosphere. The town is surrounded by mountains and forests, making it the perfect destination for a relaxing retreat. Some of the best onsen in Noboribetsu include:
- Daiichi Takimotokan – This onsen is one of the largest in Japan and offers a wide variety of baths, including an outdoor pool and a steam room. The water is high in sulfur and is said to have a healing effect on respiratory conditions.
- Oyunuma – This onsen is located in a natural hot spring field and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains. The water is high in sulfur and is perfect for those looking for a therapeutic experience.
- Jigokudani – This onsen is located in a valley and is famous for its “Hell Valley” scenery. The water is high in minerals and is said to have a healing effect on skin conditions.
Conclusion – The Best Onsen in Japan
Japan’s onsen culture is an integral part of the country’s tradition and history. From natural hot springs to sand baths, each onsen offers a unique and therapeutic experience. The best onsen in Japan are scattered throughout the country, from the snowy mountains of Hokkaido to the tropical islands of Okinawa.
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing retreat or a healing haven, Japan’s onsen destinations offer something for everyone. So pack your bags, grab a towel, and get ready to experience the best onsen in Japan. Just remember to follow the rules and etiquette of each onsen, and you’ll be sure to have a memorable and rejuvenating experience.
FAQ – What You Need to Know About Onsen in Japan
What is an Onsen?
An onsen is a natural hot spring that is heated by geothermal activity. The water is rich in minerals and is believed to have healing properties.
What Should I Wear to an Onsen?
Most onsens require visitors to be naked while bathing. However, some onsens offer private baths where you can wear a swimsuit. Be sure to check the rules before visiting.
Are Tattoos Allowed in Onsen?
Many onsens do not allow tattoos, as they are associated with the Yakuza (Japanese mafia). However, some onsens allow tattoos if they can be covered with a bandage.
What is the Etiquette at an Onsen?
Before entering the bath, you must wash your body thoroughly. It is also considered rude to splash or make noise in the bath.