Onsen are a beautiful and important element of Japanese culture. If you’ve not yet visited an onsen town, please do! If you are an onsen aficionado, you may want to look at our available rental apartments close to your favorite hot spring town.
Winter is the best time to visit hot spring towns since they provide great relief from the bitter cold and help to release tension, mule pain, and tightness. You can often find onsen towns in the country’s snowy destinations, such as Nagano Prefecture, which can be enjoyed alongside skiing and snowboarding.
These onsen are some of the most popular hot springs, due to the waters themselves, but also due to the beautiful scenery.
Kurokawa Onsen (Kumamoto Prefecture)
Nestled in the picturesque mountains of Kyushu, close to Mount Aso, Kurokawa Onsen is a hidden gem awaiting discovery by eager travelers. Renowned for its serene ambiance, Kurokawa Onsen boasts a unique charm with its rustic ryokans scattered along the river, each featuring private outdoor baths surrounded by nature’s beauty.
Visitors to Kurokawa Onsen can enjoy strolling along the charming streets, sampling local delicacies, and immersing themselves in the therapeutic waters. The town’s highlight is the variety of “rotenburo” (outdoor baths) where one can unwind while surrounded by lush greenery. You can walk through the town in a yukata. You can experience a Rotemburo Meguri (tour of outdoor baths) by purchasing a tegata, which is a wooden pass. This provides access to the baths of three different ryokans of your choice. This can be purchased for approximately 1300 yen. Alternatively, you can pay per entry into a ryokan’s baths, which costs around 500 yen. For a truly tranquil experience, explore the riverside foot baths, providing a soothing soak with a breathtaking view.
Try Yamamizuki for its stunning riverside baths, Ikoi Ryokan for its traditional charm, and Okunoyu for its historic ambiance.
Kinosaki Onsen (Hyogo Prefecture)
Situated by the scenic Sea of Japan, Kinosaki Onsen beckons tourists with its timeless charm and inviting atmosphere. Famed for its seven public baths, each exuding a unique ambiance, visitors can partake in the cherished tradition of sotoyu meguri strolls, indulging in the therapeutic waters.
Kinosaki Onsen’s picturesque streets are adorned with willow-lined canals and charming ryokans, creating a tranquil setting. Accessible by train, the JR Kinosaki Onsen Station serves as the central gateway to this onsen paradise.
Some of the most popular onsens include the historically captivating Goshono-yu and the cherry blossom-surrounded Kouno-yu, each offering a distinctive bathing experience.
Beppu Onsen (Oita Prefecture)
Beppu’s renowned hot spring district has an exciting variety of rejuvenating experiences for weary travelers. Indulge in the therapeutic waters that bubble up from the earth, soothing your senses and melting away stress. To access this blissful retreat, hop on a quick train from Oita or take a scenic drive along the coastal roads.
Explore the “Hells of Beppu,” a collection of vibrant, colorful, steaming hot springs with unique characteristics – these hot springs are not for sitting in, however. For an immersive cultural experience, visit the Takegawara Onsen, one of Beppu’s oldest and most cherished baths. Don’t miss the Kannawa district’s Mud Onsen, offering a rejuvenating blend of minerals. Nearby, you can also enjoy Beppu’s sand baths. Don’t forget to try some food cooked over the hot springs between all the relaxation and excitement!
Ginzan Onsen (Yamagata Prefecture)
In the mountains of Yamagata Prefecture, you can find one of the most beautiful onsen towns. Ginzan Onsen is known for its traditional ryokans, all wooden buildings with white plaster walls and wooden beams. At night the pedestrianized streets are lit up by gas lights, which creates a warm and charming feel.
In winter, Ginzan Onsen often gets heavy snow, making the area feel even more magical and making it a perfect spot for a winter onsen trip. Ginzan Onsen is overlooked by an impressive 22-meter tall waterfall. In the warmer months, visitors can enjoy a nature trail into the valley which passes through an old silver mine built over 500 years ago.
A lot of the ryokan baths are open to all visitors during the day. Entry costs between 500 and 1500 yen. Alternatively, there is a public bath in the center of the town, which costs 500 yen to enter. There is also a free foot bath. If you’re looking for something a bit different for your onsen experience, try out the Fujiya ryokan, which famous innovative architect Kuma Kengo recently redesigned.
Kusatsu Onsen (Gunma Prefecture)
Kutatsu Onsen attracts both locals and tourists to its rejuvenating onsen. Surrounded by lush landscapes, Kutatsu Onsen is a tranquil haven offering a unique blend of relaxation and cultural immersion. Here, traditional and modern amenities harmoniously coexist. To embark on this blissful journey, a short train ride or a scenic drive will transport you to this oasis.
Whether you’re a local seeking respite, or a traveler in search of cultural immersion, these onsen towns all provide a relaxing and peaceful retreat among some of Japan’s most breathtaking nature. Please find out where the closest onsen town to your Village House apartment is and consider visiting for some healing and serenity.