Although it’s hard to see the stars in Japan’s megalopolises, in places where there is abundant nature you can see the beautiful starry sky. Here are some onsen where you can spend a soothing moment in time submerged in a bath while gazing at the pretty starry sky.
Yurui no Yado Keizan in Nagano’s Hirugami Onsen is said to be the best place in Japan to see the starry sky and is famous for it. If blessed with fair weather, you can enjoy the starry sky to your heart’s content from an open air bath made using natural stone. Also, the smooth spring of the onsen referred to as “bijin no yu” is popular for keeping skin moisturized and smooth! You can forget the hustle and bustle of everyday life while you're surrounded by Mother Nature with a view of a river and mountains from every room, perfect for people wishing to gently soothe themselves. For meals, you can enjoy nabe or charcoal grilled irori cuisine made on a hearth set into the floor. Or you can choose artisan-made local kaiseki cuisine (tailored courses of Japanese cuisine). Since you won’t have many chances to encounter it, definitely try the irori cuisine!
1. One of Japan’s Best Starry Sky Inns: Yurui no Yado Keizan (Nagano Hirugami Onsen)
Located 1,800m above sea level, Manza Hotel Juraku is a highland hotel surrounded by greenery in Manza Onsen, Gunma Prefecture’s alpine hot-spring village. High above sea level, the unobstructed view from the open air bath looks like you’re floating in a sea of clouds. From the lodging’s prized open air bath, you can see the large panoramic view of the beautiful starry sky at night and the lush nature of the four seasons during the day as well as what is referred to as Manza's famous “karabuki," which is when the steam rises from an active volcano from fumarolic activity! The milky white onsen with its high concentration of sulphur is said to be effective for beautiful skin. While gazing at the picturesque scenery, take your time and soak to improve your skin. Also, you can enjoy Japanese, Western, and Chinese buffet-style meals with shabu-shabu, tempura, and other cuisine made using Tsumagoi highland vegetables and other local ingredients. A recommended inn for fully satisfying meals and views of the starry sky.
2. An open air bath floating in a sea of clouds: Manza Hotel Juraku (Gunma Manza Onsen)
Gifu Prefecture’s Gero Onsen is one of Japan’s leading onsens. Since it is located 1,800m above sea level, Ryokan Mitake has garnered lots of attention for its view of the many stars. You can observe the stars not only from the open air bath, but you can also use an astronomical telescope, a method that is recommended for seeing stars you wouldn’t be able to see with the naked eye. Apart from the separated male and female open air baths, if you go down the 160 cliff stairs, there is a wild ravine open air bath where you are “exposed to the fields, the rain and the wind.” Since this is a mixed bath, you can also wear swimsuits. An onsen in such a secluded atmosphere is not something that one usually gets to experience. Definitely try and challenge this! The meals are kaiseki cuisine using Hida brand beef and various other dishes using water from the onsen's well so you can try and find something that will suit your tastes!
3. Observe the starry sky through an astronomical telescope: Ryokan Mitake (Gifu Gero Onsen)
Inatori Onsen in Shizuoka Prefecture is the hot spring location that commands a view of Izu Oshima. The rooms, lobby, and open air bath at Senoumi all have an ocean view which extends right before your eyes. No matter where you are in the building, you can gaze upon the ocean. The fishing harbor is nearby so there are many visitors who come just to try the cuisine made from freshly caught local fish. The liberating view from the open air bath depicts the sea and blue sky during the day and the whole surface of the starry sky at night. With the sound of the waves as the background music, you can gaze upon it to your heart’s content. People who want to enjoy the deep blue sea and the starry sky and the onsen all at once should visit here. Without a doubt, you can refresh both your body and mind.
4. A huge panorama of the sea and starry sky: Senoumi (Shizuoka Inatori Onsen)
Hozantei, one of the top class onsen located in Kurokawa, Kumamoto's most popular onsen area, is a luxury inn with all of its rooms separated and each with its own open air bath (Sanbo no Yu is the only indoor bath). As for the open air baths, Tengu no Yu is a co-ed bath with the mountain stream running right next to it. Senjo no Yu is exclusively for women with two kinds of baths to enjoy, a lukewarm and a cold water bath. From either bath, you can see a view of the stars that could not be seen in the city. When you’re looking at the starry sky, if you flick the “starry sky switch” installed in the open air baths, the lights will go out, giving you a much better view. Definitely try it out! Their traditional Japanese-style kaiseki cuisine which uses ingredients from Kumamoto is also popular. Why not try passing the time elegantly by listening to the babbling of the mountain streams and gazing upon the starry sky?
5. All rooms are separated: Hozantei (Kumamoto Kurokawa Onsen)
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.