1.Izu Peninsula, Shizuoka Prefecture
2.Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture
3.Kusatsu, Gunma Prefecture
4.Nozawa, Nagano Prefecture
5.Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture
6.Kawaguchiko, Yamanashi Prefecture
7.Gero, Gifu Prefecture
8.Hot Spring Etiquette and Regulations

 

1.Izu Peninsula, Shizuoka Prefecture

There are a number of excellent hot spring areas/towns on Izu Peninsula. Among them, Atami, Ito and Shuzenji hot springs are particularly famous with Shuzenji being nicknamed “Little Kyoto.”

When in Shuzenji, take a stroll through the hot spring district. One must-visit spot is “Bamboo Grove Path,” a 10-minute walk from Shuzenji Onsen Station. It is a 400-meter long walk along the Katsura River that flows into Shuzenji Onsen. You can enjoy a leisurely stroll that is delightfully accompanied by the murmuring of the river. Also, don’t miss Shuzenji Temple which was founded in 807 giving it a history of over 1200 years. Shuzenji is also known for wasabi, and there are many shops that offer wasabi ice cream for a culinary adventure. A great many inns and hotels are available as day-trip hot springs.

Recommended Izu Peninsula Onsens


Izu Marinetown

2.Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture

Hakone is one of the largest hot spring resort towns/areas in Japan boasting a total of 17 hot springs that supply water to resorts and inns of various sizes. Known as “The 17 Hot Springs of Hakone,” each spring features different properties, such as purported therapeutic qualities, temperature and smell. With so many options available, you are sure to find something that suits you.

Recommended Hakone Onsen

  • Sengokuhara Onsen (hgp.co.jp) beautiful views of Mt.Fuji and the surrounding mountains. Hotel Green Plaza is located 860 meters above sea level, a 3-minute walk from Hakone Ropeway Ubako Station.

3.Kusatsu, Gunma Prefecture

Kusatsu Onsen is an “acidic” hot spring with high bactericidal properties. It is said that bacteria and germs cannot multiply and disappear. It so strong that if you soak a 1-yen coin (made of aluminum) in the spring water for a week, it will dissolve! Please be sure to remove all jewelry before bathing.

There are 16 small free public onsen that are open 24 hours. They can be very hot, so take care.

There is no parking in the main onsen area of Kusatsu, but it is just a 15–20-minute walk from the nearest michi no eki, Roadside Station Kusatsu-Undojayakoen.

 

4.Nozawa Onsen, Nagano Prefecture

Nozawa Onsen features a number of hotels and inns, but it’s the 13 free of charge public bathhouses that really make this area special! The shape, construction, and layout of the buildings are all different, and the quality and efficacy of the springs vary from one bathhouse to another. The baths are maintained by local residents, so feel free to leave a donation to say thanks.

I fondly remember a winter day when I strolled through the snow-covered streets of Nozawa Onsen, ate freshly made oyaki (a kind of steamed bun), drank hot sake at a local izakaya (Japanese pub), and soaked in the hot spring water.

How many free bathhouses can you visit during your stay in Nozawa Onsen? Why not find your favorite one? Public bath hopping in Nozawa Onsen – Japan Ski Guide (japan-skiguide.com)

5.Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture

Kinugawa Onsen is a wonderful hot spring area with water that is mildly alkaline in nature, making it gentle on the skin. The smooth water is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and clear.

In addition to hot springs, Nikko has a lot to offer such as, Kegon Falls, Nikko National Park, Ryuoukyo Gorge, and the World Heritage Site, Nikko Tosho-gu to name a few.

  • If you would like to try a family/private bath, then visit Akebi Onsen. It features small cottages that have two private open-air baths. Inside the cottages there are toilets, washbasins, hair dryers, and areas for relaxing. From the banks of the Kinugawa River, you can immerse yourself in the beauty of the river valley with each season bringing its own beauty.

6.Kawaguchiko, Yamanashi Prefecture

Kawaguchiko Onsen is a hot spring area located on the shore of Lake Kawaguchi which sits just north of Mt. Fuji. Views of Mt. Fuji from this area are spectacular and even seem to be enhanced when taking them in while relaxing in the pure hot spring water which is mildly alkaline and gentle on the skin, so you will be able to enjoy a long, relaxing bath!

Recommended Kawaguchiko Onsens

  • Yurairi is a great place to enjoy Mt. Fuji while relaxing. Additionally, it is located a very short distance from Narusawa Michi no Eki making for a great bathing/camping situation.
  • Benifuji no yu located south of Lake Kawaguchi near Lake Yamanakako provides its guests with views of Mt. Fuji from both the open-air and indoor baths.


Yurari

 

7.Gero, Gifu Prefecture

Gero Onsen is a famous hot spring area with many hotels and inns that bless visitors with clear colorless water has a slight aroma and leaves one’s skin feeling very smooth. The high-quality spring water is said to be the “hot spring of health” because of its health inducing properties which include improving circulation and relieving fatigue.

If you are looking to experience the water for free, try out one of the foot baths located in the town or in Funsenchi, the riverside foot bath where you can enjoy the murmuring of the Hida River in the background.

A stop by Gero Onsen is highly recommended if your travels take you to Hida Takayama or Shirakawa-go.

8.Hot Spring Etiquette and Regulations

  • Tattoos are NOT allowed in most hot springs. If you have a tattoo, check if the hot spring allows it or purchase a special tattoo covering.
  • Bathe in the washing area before getting into the bath.
  • Do not wear any clothing in the bath area.
  • Do not wash any clothing in the bath area.
  • Do not submerge your head in the bath water.
  • Keep your hair out of the bath water.
  • Keep your towel out of the bath water.
  • Dry yourself before entering the changing room.
  • Do not take your phone into the bath area (no photos or videos).
  • Watch what the locals do so your hot spring experience is a memorable one.
  • Always have 100-yen coins on hand as many of the lockers require a 100-yen coin for use which is returned upon inserting the key.

About the Author

Sayuri

I have been travelling by campervan to various areas all over Japan for more than 5 years. My goal is to visit all 47 prefectures in Japan! Just 12 more prefectures to go and I'll have accomplished it! I hope I can share some of information of wonderful places in Japan.

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