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The Chūbu region (中部地方) is the central region of Honshū, Japan’s main island. Chubu encompasses nine prefectures Aichi, Fukui, Gifu, Ishikawa, Nagano, Niigata, Shizuoka, Toyama, Yamanashi and there are lots of great hot springs or onsen that you should try to make time to head to!
1. Okuhida Hot Spring Village Hirayu Hot Springs（Gifu Prefecture）
Hirayu Onsen is located at the foot of the Northern Alps, Mount Norikura（at the height of 1250m）and has served the area as a therapeutic bath since long ago and is well loved by the community. There are many buses from Hirayu’s bus terminal to Takayama, Matsumoto, Kamikochi and its surrounding sightseeing spots and even to Tokyo and Osaka, making it really convenient for visitors without cars to visit this popular place.
Hirayu Onsen, Okuhida Onsengo, Takayama, Gifu Prefecture
2. Okuhida Hot Spring Village Shinhotaka Hot Springs（Gifu Prefecture）
If you head in deeper to the mountain pass Hirayu Onsen, you’ll arrive at Shinhotaka Onsen that brings you a little closer to the Northern Alps. The outdoor baths here provide spectacular views and from here you can also ride on the ridge line at Nishiho Takaoka（at the height of 2156m）. There is a viewing deck on the Northern Alps for you to take in the magnificent view of the surroundings.
Shinhotaka Onsen, Okuhida Onsengo, Takayama, Gifu Prefecture
3. Unazuki Hot Springs（Toyama Prefecture）
Unazuki Onsen is located at the entrance of Kurobe Ravine, a precipitous terrain in Japan. Soak in their outdoor baths while you enjoy the beautiful view or you can ride on the trolley train (that runs from April to November) along the ravine to take in the breathtaking views of the nature surrounding it. You wouldn’t want to miss this area during autumn. Now with the Unazuki station on the bullet train line being completed, you can easily travel from Tokyo without having to change at Toyama station.
Unazuki Onsen, Kurobe, Toyama Prefecture
4. Himishi Hot Springs（Toyama Prefecture）
At Himishi Onsen, you can soak in their baths while looking out to the grand view of the vast sea. In winter, early in the morning when the sky is clear, when you look out towards the coast of Amaharashi, you will be to see the Tateyama peak and it would seem that it is floating on the sea. Besides coming here for a relaxing hot spring experience the view of rolling mountains that are of 3000m tall, would be something that you need to put in your bucket list.
Himishi, Toyama Prefecture
5. Yamashiro Hot Springs（Ishikawa Prefecture）www.yamashiro-spa.or.jp
Yamashiro Onsen has a history that spans for 1300 years and is one of the top 3 most popular and famous hot spring area in the Hokuriku region. Here, we have the all famous coed bath from the Meiji period, 「Kosoyu」 and the modern one, 「Soyu」and both baths use specially made Kutani ware tiles and you can appreciate the beauty of these tiles when you are soaking in the bath. The hot water will help your body to relax and after a good soak, you can talk a stroll in the beautiful town.
Address：Yamashiro Onsen, Kaga, Ishikawa Prefecture
6. Yamanaka Hot Springs（Ishikawa Prefecture）
Hope onto the bus from Kanazawa station and the 1 hour and 40 minute bus ride will take you to Yamanaka Onsen a hot spring area that spans along the Kakusen Gorge that has a 1300 year history. Their cooed bath, 「Kiku no Yu」uses hot water that is high in its hydrogen concentration, which is said to be effective in improving our immune system. Here, there are also walking routes prepared for you to stroll along Kakusen Gorge to enjoy the rich flora of the area.
Yamanaka Onsen, Kaga, Ishikawa Prefecture
7. Yuwaku Hot Springs（Ishikawa Prefecture）
You can either take the cab for 30 minutes or ride the bus for 40 minutes from Kanazawa station to Yuwaka Onsen that is said to be the place to bring your guests to. With a history that dates back to more than 1000 years, it wouldn’t be surprised to see the region’s feudal lords coming here to for a refreshing soak. We definitely recommend you to come here to relax after a day of sightseeing at Kanazawa.
Yuwaka, Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture
8. Awara Hot Springs（Fukui Prefecture）
At Awara Onsen you will be spoiled with choices as there are plenty of Japanese inns and hotels with their own unique characteristics and facilities to choose from. At the Traditional Cultural Center here too, you can participate in Awara Geisha activities or Ozashiki games. There are many other activities available too from traditional Japanese dances to a live Taiko performance to help you understand the Japanese culture better that you can’t get anywhere else.
Awara, Fukui Prefecture
9. Mikuni Hot Springs（Fukui Prefecture）
Mikuno Onsen is only 20 minutes from JR Awaraonsen station by cab. It may not be as famous as some of the hot springs in this list but here you can enjoy the hot baths with a wonderful view of the Sea of Japan. There are bikes for rent here and you can ride around the are to visit the national treasure, Tojinbo or port towns around the region.
Mikuni, Sakai, Fukui Prefecture
10. Gero Hot Springs（Gifu Prefecture）
Gero Onsen is an hour bus or train ride from Takayama. This place has a history that dates back to 1000 years ago. Within the town area and spring at Hidagawa riverside, there are many small footbaths. You can also stay at Yunoshima Inn that is also recognized as a national cultural treasure and here you can also enjoy their outdoor baths. This hot spring area has many interesting spots to visit and delicious food to have.
Gero, Gifu Prefecture
11. Atami Hot Springs（Shizuoka Prefecture）
Atami Onsen is probably the top 3 most popular hot spring areas in Japan and there are many accommodation options here for you to choose, from traditional Japanese inns to modern resort hotels. From Tokyo, you can either hop onto the bullet train for 50 minutes or take the Limited Express for 110 minutes to get here. If you are in a rush for time, you can just pop by during the day to soak in the hot baths as there are some hotels or inns that will allow you to use their hot spring facilities for a fee, without needing to stay over for the night.
Tawaramoto, Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture
12. Ito Hot Springs（Shizuoka Prefecture）
Ito Onsen is one of the top 3 most popular and famous hot spring areas in Japan and it only takes an hour and 40 minutes from Tokyo on the Limited Express. This area is blessed with many springs and hot spring waters, so it wouldn’t be surprising to find a wide variety of hot spring inns and hotels here. One traditional inn that you shouldn’t miss out on would have to be the 3 story wooden structure 「Tokai Inn」that was built in 1928! You can come to this inn for a day trip to soak in their wonderful baths and then later walk around their grounds to see how their talented staff keeps the inn running to this very day!
Yukawa, Ito, Shizuoka Prefecture
13. Shuzenji Hot Springs（Shizuoka Prefecture）
Known are the oldest hot spring area on the Ito Peninsula, Shuzenji Onsen is not only famous but it offers its visitors with spectacular views. This area is well loved by the literary world. This area has many interesting sightseeing spots too that have been recognized by the Michelin Guide and awarded with 2 stars. There is also the national cultural treasure Arai Japanese Inn, a pure Japanese style inn that captures Japan’s culture and history very well.
Shuzenji, Ito, Shizuoka Prefecture
14. Sumatakyo Hot Springs（Shizuoka prefecture）
Sumatakyo Onsen lies at the foot of the Southern Alps and you can get there by bus or the Oigawa train from JR Kanaya station on the Tokkaido line. The hot water here that is pungent from the sulfur will make your skin smooth and silky and you can actually purchase a ticket that allows you to visit all the hot springs in the area. The inns here provide spectacular views of the surrounding nature that changes according to the season and you can also take strolls within the area to enjoy the rich flora.
Kawanehoncho, Haibaragun, Shizuoka Prefecture
15. Kanzanji Hot Springs（Shizuoka Prefecture）
Kanzanji Onsen that lies on the East Coast of Hamanako can easily be accessed from either Nagoya or Tokyo. Get off from Hamamatsu station on the bullet train route and hop onto a bus for a 40-minute ride and you will be there in no time. The salt content in the hot water is high and it is said to be able to provide relief to aching joints. Come and soak in their outdoor baths and enjoy the sweeping views of Hamanako Lake.
Kansanji, Nishi Ward, Hamamatsu, Shizukoa Prefecture
It is convenient and easy to take a one-day trip from Tokyo to anyone of the places recommended in this list and for those that would like to experience a Japanese onsen, which is well-loved by the locals here, we definitely recommend you to plan a trip now to these areas.