Onsen - A unique and healthy experience in Japan

09:42 05/07/2024

Japan is famous for its hot spring bathing culture (onsen), an important part of the relaxing Japanese lifestyle.

Hot spring bathing is not only a relaxing activity but also has many health benefits. Soaking in hot water helps reduce stress, relieves muscle and joint pain, improves blood circulation, and even beautifies the skin. 

Throughout Japan, there are many famous places to enjoy an onsen bathing experience, from mountain hot springs in Hokkaido and Tohoku to resorts in Hakone and Okinawa. Each location offers a unique experience with hot waters with special mineral ingredients and beautiful natural spaces, attracting both domestic and foreign tourists.

1. Hakone Onsen 

Hakone Onsen, or Hakone Hot Springs, is the general term for many natural hot water spas located in the town of Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. The area is a popular resort destination for its beautiful scenery and relaxing hot springs.

Hakone Onsen is blessed with natural volcanic hot water. There are many types of onsen in Hakone, each with its own characteristics. Some hot springs are indoors, while others are outdoors and offer stunning views of Mount Fuji.

Source image: Agoda

2. Kusatsu Onsen (Gunma)

Kusatsu Onsen is a famous hot spring resort town nestled in the mountains of Gunma Prefecture, northwest of Tokyo. It is famous for its abundant, high-quality hot spring water, boasting the largest natural flow of any hot spring in Japan.

Tourists flock to Kusatsu Onsen to experience the rejuvenating effects of the hot springs, which are said to have various healing properties. Steaming hot water, reaching temperatures of around 55 degrees Celsius (131 degrees Fahrenheit), is known to be especially beneficial for skin conditions. In particular, Yubatake, a large hot spring source in the center of town, is a must-see attraction.

Source image: Booking.com

3. Beppu Onsen 

Beppu Onsen in Oita Prefecture, Japan is home to the largest amount of hot spring water in the country. Divided into eight distinct areas, each called "Beppu Hatto", this vast network caters to a wide variety of tourists. The naturally hot water ranges in temperature from 40°C to 44°C (104°F to 111°F), providing a deeply relaxing and therapeutic experience.

Accommodation options include traditional ryokan, ideal for overnight stays with access to private hot springs, along with public bathhouses for communal soaks. Beppu even boasts natural hot springs called "jigoku” (hell), which erupt with brilliant geysers and create an impressive sight.

Source image: Traveloka

4. Nozawa Onsen 

Nozawa Onsen, nestled in Japan's Nagano Prefecture, is famous for its 13 public hot springs. Each bathhouse tells a unique story, reflecting the village's deep connection to this natural treasure. When you step into the steaming water, you will feel like you have gone back in time, experiencing a tradition passed down through generations.

Source image: Activity Japan

In addition to its therapeutic benefits, Nozawa Onsen's hot springs also serve as a vibrant social hub, where locals and visitors gather to connect, relax, and swap stories. The communal bathing experience fosters camaraderie and cultural understanding, providing a glimpse into the traditional heart of the village.

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