Onsen Hot Springs

Onsen ( hot spring ) in Hokkaido region

■Noboribetsu Onsen

Noboribetsu onsen is one of the most popular hot spring resorts in Japan and has the most varied spring water qualities in Hokkaido. So much so that it is called the “hot spring department store” as approximately 10,000 tons of 9 different types of spring water well up every day - rare even on an international scale. Nearby attractions include Jigokudani Hell Valley and Oyunuma River natural foot bath. Translation in English is provided information in The Noboribetsu Tourist Association website.

Spring water quality: sulphur, chloride, alum, sodium sulphate (sulphate), iron vitriol (containing aluminum), iron, acid iron, sodium bicarbonate, radium

■Toyako Onsen

Toyako onsen hot spring is known all over Japan as the location for the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit and is one of three hot springs with the best views in Hokkaido with Toyako Lake and the surrounding mountains. There are many hot spring inns and hotels where guests can bathe and look out over Toyako Lake but it also features many facilities where visitors can bathe without staying overnight as well as hand baths and foot baths. Visitors can also enjoy fireworks displays over the lake from the end of April until October.

Spring water quality: sodium, calcium, chloride, sulphate, etc.

■Sounkyo Onsen

Sounkyo onsen hot spring is located in a large valley where visitors can enjoy the splendor of nature. The hot spring town is a Western structure different from the usual Japanese hot spring town based on Canyon Mall, the Canadian resort. The spring water is good for rheumatism, high blood pressure and diabetes. Translation in English is provided information in The Sounkyo Tourism Association website.

Spring water quality: simple sulphur

Onsen in Touhoku region

■Yamagata Prefecture Ginzan Onsen

As the Japanese characters for Ginzan suggest, this hot spring area originally flourished as a silver mine. It is a charming place with unique traditional and historical multi-storey wooden hotels lined along the Ginzan River. The different scenery of the four seasons can be enjoyed but in winter, visitors can experience the magical atmosphere of the lit gas lamps in the snowy landscape. It is also possible to visit the silver ore caves.

The hot spring water relieves neuralgia, rheumatism and chronic skin diseases. Some hotels allow non-overnight guests to use the bathing facilities but visitors can also easily enjoy the opalescent water in the town’s public baths and foot baths.

Ginzan Onsen’s Japanese website links to a site with an English translation containing information such as the history and townscape for Ginzan Onsen and the public baths. There is also access information by plane, train and car.

Spring quality: saline hydrogen sulfide

■Sukayu Onsen

Sukayu onsen hot spring is opaque and is strong in acidity as demonstrated by the Japanese characters in its name. It is effective on rheumatism and neuralgia and is used by many people for convalescence. Many mountain climbers also drop by on their way back from inns in the Hakkoda Mountains. Sukayu onsen has been designated as the 1st health preservation hot spring as a model case for hot springs all over Japan. Its most famous feature is its 5 different baths including the large hinoki cypress mixed bathing public bath called the 1,000-person bath and it is recommended to bathe in the order prescribed for your ailments. In addition, Sukayu onsen is also famous for being in a high snowfall area which receives the highest level of snow cover in Japan.

Spring water quality: acid sulphur spring

■Hanamaki Onsen Town

Hanamaki onsen hot spring town allows visitors to select their preference from 12 locations with spring water of different quality and appearance, beginning with Hanamaki onsen hot spring. There is a wide variety of hot springs such as standing baths, rare even for Japan, Hinabita onsen, which has been popular as a resort throughout history, and onsen hot springs with views right beside mountain streams. This is also the birthplace of Kenji Mizawa, the children’s author, featuring a rose garden with a sundial flower bed designed by the author himself. Translation in English is provided information in Hanamaki Tourism & Convention Bureau.

Spring water quality: alkaline simple spring water, etc.

■Akiu Onsen

Akui onsen hot spring is one of the most famous in Japan with a long history dating back 1500 years. Along with Arima and Dogo hot springs, it is one of the three most well-known springs in Japan. It is effective on rheumatism and skin complaints. Another attraction is its proximity to Sendai City center. Translation in English is provided information in Akiuonsen-ryokan Union.

Spring water quality: sodium, calcium sulphate

Onsen in Kantou region

■Shima Onsen

The name originates from the legend that it can cure 40,000 illnesses (the Japanese characters are 四万 = 40,000) and this onsen hot spring has a long history which is designated as the 1st hot spring health resort in Japan with particularly great hot springs and scenery. The hot spring water can also be drunk and is said to be good for the stomach. It is also popular among women as it is said to be a hot spring for beauty - a natural face lotion. There is also a traditional ryokan hotel, Sekizenkan, which is said to have been the inspiration for the style of the public bathhouse in Ghibli’s film, Spirited Away.

The official Shima Onsen Association website provides an English translation of some of its Japanese pages. These contain information on the Shima Onsen area and history as well as nature and hotels and a map for access by train.

Spring water quality:sodium/calcium - chloride/sulphate

■Ikaho Onsen

Ikaho onsen is a hot spring town famous for its atmospheric stone steps and visitors can enjoy two types of hot spring water: golden (kogane) and silvery white (shirogane). The golden hot spring water is the original type used when the hot spring town opened and it is thus called due to the oxidization of the iron content in the water which gives it a dark brown colour. The soft spring water quality promotes blood circulation and is popular as it is known as a hot spring that favours conception. The silvery white hot spring water is more recent with its name originating from the fact that it is clear and colourless. It is said to be effective for those recovering from illness and fatigue.

The website of the Tourism Association of Spa Shibukawa Ikaho provides an English translation of some of its Japanese pages which contain information on bathing facilities for day visitors, farms where it is possible to pick apples or strawberries and souvenirs. The website also has a download service which provides an English version of its guide map.

Spring water quality:
golden hot spring water: sulphate
silvery white hot spring water: metasilicic acid simple hot spring water

■Takaragawa Onsen

Takaragawa onsen is one of the Minakami Onsengo hot springs famous for activities such as rafting and gets its name from the Takaragawa River that flows alongside the hotels. Osenkaku Hotel at Takaragawa onsen is famous for its large outdoor bath. It goes without saying that visitors can enjoy its size but as it is right beside the river, they can also enjoy the atmosphere full of pastoral beauty. It also popular among both Japanese and international visitors as mixed bathing is available. It has been selected as one of the top ten hot springs in the world.

There is only one hotel at Takaragawa Onsen - Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku. Its website provides an English translation of some of its Japanese pages. These contain information on its famous outdoor baths, their areas and their water supply as well as accommodation plans, dining and the history and traditions of the hot springs.

Spring water quality:mildly alkaline simple hot spring water

Hot spring in Koshin-etsu region

■Matsunoyama Onsen

Matsunoyama onsen is one of the three most famous medicinal hot springs in Japan and contains 15 times the amount of ingredients necessary to be registered as an onsen hot spring. It is said that the high salt contents warm the body thoroughly and helps to prevent post-bath cooling. It is also highly effective in promoting beautiful skin and the metaboric acid content which is effective for disinfecting/cleaning is one of the highest in Japan, making it possible to heal cuts and burns quickly. As it is located in a traditional mountain village, visitors can experience the real Japan.

Spring water quality:calcium/sodium chloride

■Nozawa Onsen

Nozawa onsen is famous even in Nagano Prefecture, the land of hot springs, with 13 open air baths in the town. Water temperature is relatively high. The open air baths are communal spaces for the local residences and tourists are also allowed to use them. Ogama in the centre of the town has a spring with a temperature of almost 100℃ and locals use it to boil vegetables and eggs - an interesting sight! The official Nozawa Onsen Tourism Association website provides an English translation of some of its Japanese pages. It provides information on Nozawa Onsen, outdoor bath opening times and foot baths as well as how to use the baths and where to make onsen-tamago eggs, the local speciality.

Spring water quality:includes calcium sulphate - salt/sulphur

■Shirahone Onsen

Shirahone (white bone) onsen hot spring was named after the deposits left on the baths which look just like bones. This milky white hot spring water is mild and gentle, appropriate for all ages from children to the elderly. It is so effective that it has always been said that if you use this bath for 3 days, you won’t watch a cold for 3 years and it is good for the digestive system including as gastrointestinal disorders. As it is located at around 1400m above sea level, visitors can relax in the bath and experience the four seasons in nature.

Spring water quality:hydrogen sulphide simple hot spring water

Hokuriku Region Onsen Hot Springs

■Unazuki Onsen

Unazuki onsen hot spring is the clearest in Japan - as clear as the Kurobe River that runs close by. Unazuki Station is also the departure point for the Kurobe Gorge Railway (does not run in winter). It is also close to the location of a foot bath attached to a cafe from which you can see the Gorge Railway and a foot bath in Unazuki Park. In addition, there are new facilities such as communal bathing and tourist information offices which will open in the spring of 2016 as new symbols of the onsen town.

The official Japanese website of the Kurobe Unazuki-onsen Tourist Board provides an English translation of some of its pages.

Spring water quality: weak alkaline simple spring water

■Wakura Onsen

Wakura onsen hot spring is high in salt content as it is one of the rare sea hot springs in Japan. It has good spring water quality which was awarded third prize at the World Hot Spring Exhibition in Germany in the Meiji Period. Near the entrance to the municipal onsen baths, visitors can enjoy a foot bath of the same spring water quality and can also drink it so it is possible to enjoy the water in many different ways. Translation in English is provided information in The Wakura Onsen Tourism Association website.

Spring water quality: sodium/calcium chloride

■Yamashiro Onsen

Yamashiro onsen has been a hot spring destination for over 1300 years and is well-known as a place where visitors cans enjoy 3 different kinds of spring water. The 2 public bathhouse buildings in the town are attractive and visitors can enjoy their artistic features such as stained glass and Kutani-ware tiles. It is the also the place where Kutani-ware originates from so it is possible to tour the potteries and galleries as well as experience ceramics painting. Translation in English is provided information in The Yamashiro Onsen Tourist Association website.

Spring water quality: sodium/calcium sulphate/chloride
Sodium/calcium sulphate
Alkaline simple spring water

Onsen in Tokai region

■Fukuji Onsen

Fukuji onsen hot spring is one of the hot springs in Oku-Hida onsen town along with Hirayu onsen, Shin-hirayu onsen, Tochio onsen and Shinhotaka onsen and is hidden deep in the mountains at 1,000m above sea level. While the hot spring town is small, there are many traditional hotels with traditional irori fires in traditional private houses so visitors can experience the real Japan. There is also a morning market reminiscent of times gone by. The hot springs warm your body to the core and are effective as a sedative and therefore for recovery after illness or recuperating from fatigue. Incidentally, Shinhotaka onsen in Oku-Hida onsen town was awarded 2 Michelin stars in the 2009 Michelin Green Guide Japan.

Spring water quality: sodium bicarbonate

■Atami Onsen

Atami onsen is one of Japan’s foremost hot springs in terms of the quantity of hot spring water which is extremely soft and contributes to beautiful skin. As it is located in Sagami Bay, there are not only hot springs but visitors can also enjoy fresh seafood. Hotels and traditional Japanese inns line the coast and the fireworks displays held over the bay in summer and in winter are very famous. It is one of Japan’s resort areas. Translation in English is provided information in The Atami Hot Spring Ryokan and Hotel Association website.

Spring water quality: chloride, etc.

■Akame Onsen

Akame onsen is a hot spring in Nakaise onsen town. It only has two traditional hotels. The 48 Akame Falls where the Iga Ninja, popular with overseas tourists, trained is close by and this hot spring was said to be used by ninja to relieve their fatigue between training sessions. Visitors can enjoy their bath in the peace and quiet surrounded by nature. Visitors can take part in Iga-ryu ninja training at the nearby Ninja no Mori.

Spring water quality: simple thermal radioactive spring

Onsen in Kansai region

■Kinosaki Onsen Two star Onsen in Michelin green guide Japon

Kinosaki onsen is famous for its seven historical outdoor baths around which visitors tour. Each of the seven traditional Japanese facilities is full of great individuality and it is worth just going along to take a look at them. The onsen town is along the river and the scenery includes a line of weeping willows. This hot spring has been awarded two stars by the Michelin Green Guide Japon. Translation in English is provided information in The Kinosaki Hot Spring official website.

Spring water quality:sodium / calcium chloride / high temperature

■Arima Onsen

Arima onsen hot spring is the oldest in Japan and one of the three most famous. There are two types of hot spring called silver and gold. The gold hot spring contains iron and changes to a dark reddish-brown, which is where its name comes from, and the silver hot spring contains clear radium water. In addition, this hot spring contained many high quality components that are rare in the world. Translation in English is provided information in The Arima Hot Springs Tourism Association website.

Spring water quality:gold hot spring: iron, sodium chloride, high in salt, high temperature
     silver hot spring: carbon dioxide (carbonic acid)

■Nanki Katsuura Onsen

Nanki Katsuura onsen has over 200 hot spring sources with large quantities of hot spring water. Among the accommodation facilities there are places with rare natural cave baths or outdoor rotemburo baths right in front of the sea and visitors can enjoy the magnificent natural scenery from their bath. Visitors can also enjoy leisure activities such as swimming in the sea and whale watching and this is also a convenient location from which to visit tourist attractions such as the World Heritage Site Kumano Kodo.

Spring water quality:simple sulphur spring, sodium / calcium chloride

Onsen in Chuugoku region

■Tamatsukuri Onsen

Tamatsukuri onsen is an ancient hot spring said to have been popular for over 1,300 years. It is also famous as being a hot spring for beautiful skin, it was called the “hot spring of the gods” in the Nara Period and is loved by people today. Tamatsukuri onsen is located in the Izumo region which is full of myths and legends, motifs of which are dotted around the hot spring town and visitors can read passages from them.

Spring water quality: sodium, calcium, sulfate, chloride

■Misasa Onsen

Misasa onsen hot spring has a history of over 850 years and its name, which means “three mornings” in Japanese, is said to come from the fact that on your third morning spent at the hot spring, you will be restored to full health. This hot spring is radioactive with one of the world’s highest concentrations of radon and due to the fact that it has natural healing powers such as hormesis and the effect of enhancing immunity, it is also an authentic hot spring health resort. Translation in English is provided in The Misasa Onsen Ryokan Cooperative website.

Spring water quality:radioactive/sodium chloride hot spring
               Radioactive/simple thermal hot spring

■Yubara Onsen

Yubara onsen town is the generic name for 5 different hot springs: Shimoyubara, Taru, Maga, Goroku and Yubara. The town has 15 hot spring sources and an abundant volume of water, hence its name which means “hot water plains” in English. The open air Sunayu bath that springs from the Asahikawa river bed which flows directly beneath Yubara Dam is one of the Yokozuna (great champions) of open air rotemburo baths and makes it possible to experience the magnificent nature surrounding it. Translation in English is provided in The Official Website of Yubara Hot Spring Village.

Spring water quality: alkaline simple thermal hot spring

Onsen in Shikoku region

The Official Tourism Guide for Shikoku provides an English translation of some of its Japanese pages which provide tourist information on the pilgrimage and dining as well as information on Ashizuri Onsen and Konpira Onsen Town.

■Ashizuri Onsen

Ashizuri onsen town was opened around 1200 years ago but the source dried up after a major earthquake around 150 years ago. The source was excavated in 1988 and 11 years later it became the Ashizuri onsen town that we know today. It is located on the Ashizuri Cape and visitors can enjoy superb views from the many accommodation facilities which provide unbroken views of the Pacific Ocean at this location on the southernmost tip of Shikoku.

Spring water quality: simple weak radioactive cold mineral spring (containing radon/fluorine)

■Konpira Onsen

Konpira onsen is a hot spring town at the foot of the famous Kotohira Shrine which is a location thought to be flowing with mystical energy and is known familiarly as Konpira Shrine. It is a comparatively new hot spring which started to produce water in 1997 and the area is known for its many hot spring hotels which offer a variety of baths such as large public baths, open air rotemburo baths and rose baths which provide a cheerful atmosphere. It is effective for neuralgia, joint pain and beautiful skin.

Spring water quality:sodium/calcium chloride hot spring
               simple weak radioactive cold mineral spring

■Hondani Onsen

Hondani onsen is one of the three Iyo hot springs of Shikoku, the other two being Dogo and Nibukawa. It has been selected as a hot spring with a pedigree that exists from ancient times. It has a history of over 1300 years and, as the mild hot spring water is soft and rarely causes dizziness after prolonged use, it is a hot spring that is gentle on a wide range of ages from children to the elderly. It is effective for muscle pain and beautiful skin. Translation in English is provided information in The Ehime Tourism Information website.

Spring water quality: hypotonic alkaline cold mineral spring