Five Onsen Inns in Tohoku with Open Air Baths Offering Fantastic Views
The nature-rich Tohoku region has many overnight accommodations where you can enjoy onsen (hot springs). Some of them have open-air baths in which you can enjoy famous hot spring water, together with seasonal scenery like spring verdure and snowy landscapes. Below are five especially recommended places to stay at.
This is an inn in a great location overlooking the Bay of Matsushima, which is known for its fantastic views. The inn has standard Japanese-style rooms, as well as rooms with open-air baths or private baths from which you can enjoy scenery that changes by the minute. The Otsukimi-dai footbath is located in a spot with a panoramic view of Matsushima, so you can relax and enjoy views of the sunlit sky in the morning and the ocean shimmering in the moonlight at night. The high-quality onsen water in the inn's baths have a light texture that is gentle on the skin. In addition to the large shared bath, there is a bath that you can reserve for private use. Dinner is multi-course kaiseki cuisine made with fresh local fish. Free Wi-Fi is available in the guestrooms. There are staff who speak English and French.
This is a mountain resort hotel surrounded by virgin Japanese beech forests in Mt. Hakkoda, which counts among the 100 most beautiful mountains of Japan. It has easy access to Lake Towada and Oirase Gorge, and is a great place to enjoy beautiful seasonal views and activities during the day, and to relax under starry skies at night. The open-air bath that overlooks the gorge is the only one in Hakkoda that is open year-round. In it, you can enjoy quality natural onsen water that springs from the source. The guest rooms are full of the warmth of wood, and reminiscent of European cabins. The rooms with private baths that give you outside views are recommended. There is free Wi-Fi throughout the building, and staff who can speak English.
Kutsurogijyuku Chiyotaki is in Higashiyama Onsen, which is deep in the Aizuwakamatsu area. It is an onsen inn with a spacious new building, and a main building that’s black-themed and in the style of a traditional Japanese house. The highlight of this inn is the hot spring with fantastic panoramic views of the castletown of Aizu. The water in the bath is light sulfate spring water. The inn is up in the hills, so the guest rooms have views of the seasonal beauty of the gorge and mountains – from snow in the winter, to the new leaves of early summer and fall foliage, as well as night views of the lights of Aizu, and of the onsen town that spreads out below. There is a Jizake-no-Yakata bar on-site, where you can enjoy 30 different Japanese sake from the Aizu area. There is free Wi-Fi in all of the guest rooms.
This is a highland resort that’s surrounded by the great outdoors of Towada-Hachimantai National Park. The large shared bath with sulfur spring water has an open-air rock bath overlooking a Japanese garden with colorful plants and flowers in every season. The standard rooms are spacious, and they have a selection of Japanese-style rooms, Western-style rooms, and family-style rooms with two beds and a tatami room. There is a lobby with panoramic views on the top floor (12th floor), from which you can see seasonal views of cherry blossoms, spring foliage, and fall foliage on the majestic Mt. Iwate and the next-door Iwate Kenmin-no-Mori. There is free Wi-Fi access throughout the building.
This is a hotel at the foot of the Zao Mountain range that is full of seasonal nature. There is a large shared bath with alkaline mineral water that is gentle on the skin, as well as an annex called “Hanareyu Hyaku-happo” that’s a few feet away from the hotel. There are open-air baths and indoor baths made completely out of wood, from which you can enjoy fabulous views of the mountains and soak in the milky white water, which has the smell of sulfur that is unique to Zao Onsen. Dinner is full of foods made with regional ingredients, including Yamagata beef, which is characterized by its rich umami. Female guests can rent colorful yukata or kimono for free.
If you are visiting the Tohoku area, why not select one of the inns introduced here? Relax in the baths while enjoying the beautiful view, and your body and soul will surely feel refreshed.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.