10 hot springs that you must visit while in Japan
Since Japan is a country with a large number of volcanoes, it is only natural that you can find hot springs about everywhere you go. Among those, we have selected 10 hot springs that you cannot miss while you're in Japan.
Everybody in Japan knows the Atami Hot Springs, which are famous for having been one of the favorite places of Ieyasu Tokugawa, the first shogun of the Edo shogunate (1603-1868). Apparently, he liked them so much that he even sent some water from these hot springs to a retainer who was undergoing medical treatment in Kyoto. Boasting a plentiful annual yield, the Atami Hot Springs are one of the most prominent hot springs in Japan. The hot spring district extends from the area around the station, located at the base of a mountain, to the coast, and it is always bustling with activity. Freshly caught fish at the port are a specialty of the area, and among them, horse mackerel enjoys a especially good reputation. It is also nice to note that the area is easily accessible from Tokyo - it is less than an hour Shinkansen ride away!
The picture shows a foot bath located in front of Atami Station.
1. Atami Hot Springs (Shizuoka)
The Beppu Hot Springs are one of the most prominent hot spring areas of Japan, in terms of the number of hot spring wells and hot spring flow. Here there are hot spring wells for 10 of the 11 existing hot spring types. The Beppu Hot Springs embody 8 different hot spring areas known as the "Beppu Hatto" (Beppu, Kannawa, Kankaiji, Myoban, Kamegawa, Shibaseki, Horita, and Hamawaki) and includes a wide array of hot springs, both within the town and amidst nature, all of which have different characteristics. Here, you will find not only hot spring ryokans where you can stay the night or visit for a day trip, but also municipal hot springs that you can bath in at around 100 JPY, so anybody can enjoy the hot springs in a casual manner. In addition, one of the most typical sightseeing courses in Beppu Hot Springs consists in touring around the "jigoku", which are natural hot spring wells scattered around the area, so make sure you go and see them too.
The hot spring well in the picture is the "Umi Jigoku".
The Kusatsu Hot Springs are one of the three most famous hot springs of Japan. Here you can indulge in hot spring baths surrounded by the blessings of nature. The Kusatsu Hot Springs boast the largest rate of natural water flow in Japan, and the big "yubatake" (a hot spring area where mineral deposits are harvested) at the center of the hot spring district is a symbol of the area. The hot springs of Kusatsu are one of Japan's foremost acidic springs and since they have high bactericidal effects, they have been considered to be effective in treating skin diseases since ancient times. The "yumomi" performance, held every year during the summer, is also a must-see. "Yumomi" is a performance in which folk songs are sung while using boards to stir the water in order to lower its temperature, since the hot springs in Kusatsu are known to be excessively hot. Guests can enjoy both watching and trying to stir the water themselves.
3. Kusatsu Hot Springs (Gunma)
The "Hakone Yumoto Hot Springs" are a hot spring area located in Kanagawa prefecture with a history of 1,200 years. There are many hot spring areas in Hakone, but this is considered to be the oldest, and it is the one where you can find the most ryokans and water wells. Dotted with souvenir shops and lodging facilities, this is known to be the most bustling area in Hakone. The alkaline simple hot springs are colorless, transparent, tasteless, and odorless, and they are very gentle on the skin. Moreover, Hakone is just an 85 min. ride on the Odakyu Romance Car from Tokyo, which makes it outstandingly accessible, and a great destination for day trips from Tokyo. After enjoying a bath in the hot springs, it is a good idea to try and have some "soba" or "bread" made with the limpid water of Hakone.
4. Hakone Yumoto Hot Springs (Kanagawa)
The "Nasu Hot Springs" are hot springs sprinkled about in the mountains of Nasu-machi, at about 2 hours 15 minutes from Tokyo. The area is also known to be the vacation destination of the Imperial Family of Japan. Discovered in the year 630, it has been famous across Japan as a hot spring resort since ancient times. Here, you can enjoy a variety of hot springs with different atmospheres and water types, along with "Shika no Yu", a famous sightseeing spot of Nasu, and "Omaru Hot Springs", a river open-air bath surrounded by nature. The cuisine, made using local ingredients cultivated amidst the plentiful nature of the area, is exquisite as well.
The "Kinugawa Hot Springs" are located in Nikko, famous for its temples and shrines, including Nikko Tosho-gu, which has been registered as a World Heritage Site. These hot springs have an ancient and noble origin, to the point that, in the past, only monks visiting the temples and shrines or "daimyos" (feudal lords) were allowed in. The area is surrounded by a valley and it offers a sublime view. The alkaline simple hot springs are said to be effective for treating neuralgia, stiff and painful shoulders, and exhaustion; and for promoting good health. If you are visiting Nikko, make sure you make some time during your trip to drop by and relax.
Also known as the "Nanki Shirahama Hot Springs", these hot springs have a long history and are, together with the Atami Hot Springs and the Beppu Hot Springs, one of the "Three Oldest Hot Springs of Japan". They are located at about 3 hours by train from Kyoto, and about 2 hours from Osaka. The hot spring district extends along the coast of "Shirahama", known for its pure white sand beach, and it is one of the most popular resorts in the Kansai area. Here you can enjoy hot spring baths with a view of the ocean, and open-air baths located in the beach that you can soak in while wearing your swimsuit.
This is one of the representative hot spring resorts of Hokkaido, and it is located at about 1 hour 40 minutes from the New Chitose Airport by nonstop bus, and about 1 hour by train from the center of Sapporo. These are salt springs, which are said to not get cold easily, so they warm your body to the core. The area is also known for its picturesque scenery, and it offers beautiful views throughout the seasons, but it is especially famous for its autumn tints. It is also close to a ski site, and one of the charms of the Jozankei Hot Springs lies precisely in the fact that you can enjoy both skiing and hot spring baths during the winter.
The Unzen Hot Springs, registered as the first national park of Japan, is a hot spring area amidst rich nature which offers a variety of different sceneries throughout the seasons. These strongly acid springs contain sulfur and they are effective for treating skin diseases and for maintaining a beautiful skin. It is said that they are also helpful in recovering from exhaustion and in promoting good health. The "Unzen Jigoku", where water and gas violently gush out from in between large and small rocks raising a curtain of dense steam at 120 degrees Celsius, is the most important sightseeing spot of the area. There is a resting place nearby called "Ashimushi" where you can place your feet to get a feeling of the actual heat, so make sure you give it a try.
The "Shuzenji Hot Springs" are the oldest hot springs in the Izu Peninsula, an area known for its numerous hot springs. They have been selected as one of the "Best 100 Hot Springs of Japan" and, in the past, they have been visited by Kobo Daishi (a famous Japanese monk, founder of the Shingon school of Buddhism) and great writers such as Soseki Natsume and Yasunari Kawabata. This hot spring resort offers plenty of sightseeing spots where visitors can get a feeling of the Japanese spirit, such as the Shuzenji temple, from which the area takes its name, the Kaedebashi bridge, a Japanese-style bridge over the Shuzenji river, which runs across the center of the hot spring district, and the Chikurin no Komichi, a promenade surrounded by a bamboo forest next to the river.
10. Shuzenji Hot Springs (Shizuoka)
How did you like this information? Here we just featured a selection of 10 unique hot springs that you can find only in a hot spring paradise like Japan. Many of them are internationally famous, so you might have already heard about them before. How about having a bath in these famous hot springs during your sightseeing trip? A hot spring getaway will surely help you relax and relieve your fatigue from daily life.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.