1. Oedo Onsen Monogatari (Odaiba, Tokyo)
Located on the artificial island of Odaiba out in Tokyo Bay, this giant super onsen is modelled on an Edo period town. There is a huge variety of tubs, including outdoor tubs, as well as restaurants, relaxation rooms and shops. You can even get a massage and spa treatments. You can easily spend a whole day here soaking away your cares.
2. Hakone Kowakien Yunessun (Hakone)
At Yunessun, we also provide a wide variety of spa resort services and water attractions for both adults and children. Also located in our resort, is a very large shopping mall called the Mio Mall, showcasing local products from Hakone. From spa facilities in European style, to Onsen in the traditional Japanese style, to fun and wild water recreation amusements, Yunessun has a unique blend of relaxation and water recreation for people of all ages.
3. LaQua Spa (Tokyo Dome)
But this high-rise complex is the real deal – the architects drilled underneath Tokyo to find a natural spring some 1700 metres down, then siphoned the water up through the sci-fi skyline of Tokyo Dome. It is easy to lose a whole day in the womblike interior of the facilities and especially in the lounge provided for post-bath napping – with soft reclining chairs, pyjama-like outfits issued as standard, and a panoramic window overlooking the cityscape.
4. Niwa no Yu (Nerima, Tokyo)
Don’t let the fact that it’s located next to the dreary Toshimaen amusement park put you off: this is by far the nicest of Tokyo’s mega-onsen bathing complexes. Housed in a Japanese garden designed by leading landscape architect Kenzo Kosugi, Niwa no Yu is divided into male and female bathing areas, with a central pool, outdoor jacuzzis and Finnish-style sauna where couples can hang out together (bathing suits required, natch).
5. Heiwajima Natural Hot Spring (Heiwajima, Tokyo)
In a savvy move, this 24-hour bathhouse has started offering a free shuttle bus service to nearby Haneda Airport every morning – perfect if you’ve got an early flight and would rather wait in a hottub than the departure lobby. The baths at Heiwajima Natural Hot Spring are designed to treat a range of ailments, from insomnia to lower back pain, and – as the name suggests – all of them use bona fide onsen water.
6. Rakuyu-jurin (Hakone)
Only 100 people are allowed in per day, split between the men and women’s baths. For those lucky enough to get through on the phone when they open at 10am, there are two private baths that can be reserved by the hour.
7. Kusatsu Onsen (Gunma)
The town of Kusatsu is located at the southeastern foot of Mt. Kusatsu-Shirane-san in the northwestern part of Gunma. The town became well known about 120 years ago after Dr. Balz, a medical doctor from Germany, found its hot spring to be very effective. Kusatsu-onsen Hot Spring consists of eighteen public baths, each with a different effect and separate fountainhead. Most of the hot springs operate twenty-four hours a day.
8. Yumoto Onsen (Nikko)
Yumoto (lit. “origin of hot water”) is a small hot spring town in the back of Okunikko (“Inner Nikko”) and part of Nikko National Park. The town is attractively located next to Lake Yunoko (lit. “hot water lake”) and consists mainly of ryokan with hot spring baths.
9. Jakotsu-yu (Asakusa, Tokyo)
It is a great spot for a quick, authentic dip in real onsen water that is piped up from deep below Tokyo. The water is a brownish color and is medium hot, though not scalding. As such, for many this could be a decent introduction to the world of Japanese onsen, especially for those only in Tokyo, or only in Japan for a short time. There’s also attractive murals of Mount Fuji on the wall.
10. Takaragawa Onsen (Gunma)
Japanese onsen maniacs often pronounce Gunma-ken’s onsen to be the best in the country – and it’s difficult to argue this point. ‘Takaragawa’ means ‘treasure river’, and its several slate-floored pools sit along several hundred metres of riverbank. Most of the pools are mixed bathing, with one ladies-only bath. The alkaline waters are said to cure fatigue, nervous disorders and digestive troubles.