Top 5 onsens not to miss in Japan

2019年 10月11日

Onsens (温泉) are Japan's famous natural hot springs that can be found almost everywhere across the country and to which relaxing and healing benefits are attributed. Very popular in Japan, a bath into an onsen is the perfect occasion to dive into local culture and take time to relax away from cities' busy rythm. Without further talking, here is a top 5 of japanese "onsen town".

  • Atami, the most convenient : located only few hours away from Tokyo, this little seaside town attracts tourists since the Nara era, that is to say since the 8th century, thanks to its high quality thermal springs! The salty water is especially efficient against nerve, muscular and joint pains.

Atami bay in the evening
  • Kusatsu Onsen, the most famous : located 1200 meters high on the Gunma prefecture's mountains, not too far from Tokyo. The place is a little complicated to access and few trains get there, but it is therefore spared from mass tourism so don't give up, it it worth the journey! Its sulfuric water is not only efficient against skin diseases but it also contains numerous regenerating properties. In the center of Kusatsu, you will find the famous yubatake (literally meaning "field of water") that brings water to surroundings baths.

The well-known Yubatake
  • Beppu Onsen, the most impressive : Kyushu island - Oita prefecture,  the city hosts not less than eight differents thermal springs used by many onsens and ryokans (traditional inn), making it the biggest hotsprings structure in Japan. Beppu is not only a pleasure for the properties of its water on your health but it also is a pleasure for your eyes, as the city seems perpetually in flame because of water steam released from the baths.

Umi Jigoku (Sea Hell) in Beppu
  • Gero Onsen, the classic : located in Gifu prefecture, this town is known as Japan's third best onsen, according to the poet Hayashi Razan from the Edo period. It has an easy access from Nagoya and thanks to its location near the Hida river: the alcaline water is good for blood circulation and against weariness. Gero also hosts many events such as the Rice Field festival in February and the Gero Onsen festival in August.

Exterior bath in Gero
  • Dogo Onsen, the oldest : Dogo Onsen Honkan, the city's main hot spring, is the place that the animation director Miyazaki used as a model for his animation movie Spirited away. Giant and marvelously decorated, entering the place will make you slip through time. You will find it in Ehime prefecture, on Shikoku island. With an history older than a thousand year, Dogo could be the oldest thermal hotsprings still in activity in Japan.

Dogo Onsen Honkan

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