Head Here First! 7 Amazing Hot Spring Areas in Shikoku
You'll find an abundance of nature and many famous hot spring (onsen) areas with long histories in the Shikoku region, which is surrounded by the Seto Inland Sea (Setonai-kai) and the Pacific Ocean. The 4 prefectures that make up this region - Kagawa, Ehime, Kochi, and Tokushima - are dotted with unique hot spring spots that vary from ones discovered over 1,000 years ago to places with beautiful townscapes. Read further to get introduced to a premium selection across this vast region!
Jun 28 2018 (Sep 09 2020)
1. Dogo Onsen [Matsuyama City, Ehime]
Dogo Onsen is said to be Japan’s oldest hot spring area. Natsume Soseki, one of Japan’s exemplary literary masters, set his masterpiece “Botchan” in this area. This has led to it becoming one of Japan’s most famous hot spring spots. The charming Western-style architecture at Dogo Onsen Station is quite impressive.
The nostalgic Dogo Onsen Main Building, which has a dignified and lovely exterior, is the structure that symbolizes Dogo Onsen. It is just for day trips, so there many people who stay at the surrounding hot spring inns just to use the hot spring here. The gentle waters are alkaline, making them great for healing and suitable for everyone.
2. Okudogo Onsen [Matsuyama City, Ehime]
This hot spring area is located deeper into the mountains than Dogo Onsen. Though they're only 4 km apart, the quiet environment of Okudogo Onsen sharply contrasts the lively atmosphere of Dogo Onsen. Here, you'll be surrounded by mountains, valleys, and nature. You can enjoy the seasonal view, as well as birdwatching. Soak for as long as you want in a hot spring whilst surrounded by an abundance of greenery.
Okudogo Ichiyu no Mori is a hot spring inn that is said to be the symbol for Okudogo. Here, you'll be able to enjoy an alkaline sulfur hot spring - said to be suitable for everyone and to work wonders on the skin - at its source.
3. Konpira Onsenkyo [Nakatago, Kagawa]
This hot spring spot is located in Kotohira Town of Kagawa Prefecture, where you can also find the incredibly popular sightseeing spot, Konpira Shrine (Konpira-gu). There is a long, long flight of 1,368 stone steps leading to the shrine. Along that path, you'll find many shops, such as souvenir stores. After you’ve climbed the stairs, you can soak your tired body in a hot spring!
This water of this hot spring is extremely unique, as it is entirely colorless, transparent, and silky to the touch. It’s effective against skin problems, joint pains, and other ailments. At the hot spring inn, Koubaitei, you can savor various kinds of hot springs, including the open-air bath that'll make you feel like you're one with nature.
4. Shionoe Onsenkyo [Takamatsu City, Kagawa]
Discovered about 1,300 years ago, this hot spring area is located at the southernmost part of Takamatsu in Kagawa Prefecture. A river runs through the center and on summer nights, you can see glittering fireflies. Here, you can enjoy nature during all 4 seasons, including cherry blossoms in the spring and colorful leaves in the fall.
The hot spring here is a sulfur spring that will warm up your body. It's known for its soft water that feels great on the skin, as well as for being effective against ailments like nerve pain, rheumatism, and various skin diseases. There are also free footbaths around the area, so you can thoroughly enjoy the hot spring water to your heart’s content.
5. Nibukawa Onsen [Imabari City, Ehime]
Nibukawa Onsen is a hot spring area with a long history that's located in the verdant Imabari City of Ehime Prefecture. It has many beautiful valleys and scenic spots. It used to have a medicinal garden, thus why it was known as a hot spring health resort. Many people also visit Nibukawa Valley (Nibukawa Keikoku) for outdoor activities like camping, walking through the woods, and canoeing.
This area has around 6 small hot spring inns. The water has a high radon content and is a bit thick. It is gentle on your skin and you’ll feel incredibly smooth after your bath!
6. Ashizuri Onsenkyo [Tosashimizu City, Kochi]
This hot spring spot is situated at Ashizuri Cape (Ashizuri-misaki), which is at the southernmost corner of Shikoku. It is known for having lots of inns that have sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean. The freeing open-air baths and scenic baths here will relax both your body and mind. On clear winter nights, you can see many stars in the sky. If you’re lucky, you might even see the Milky Way!
The hot spring here has a long history and was said to have been discovered approximately 1,200 years ago. It is known for possessing a high quantity of radon. It feels good to be submerged in the hot water, but did you know that it's also clean enough to drink?
7. Oboke Onsen [Miyoshi City, Tokushima]
This hot spring spot is located in the inland part of the Shikoku region. It is known for its strong alkaline springs, which are incredibly popular for making your skin silky smooth. It's said that after your bath, you won't even need to moisturize your face! It’s effective against ailments like nerve pain, joint pain, women’s health issues, and skin diseases. You will feel rejuvenated after your bath and warmed to your core.
The valleys here are known for their beauty. One sight worth seeing is the natural scenery with large, scattered rocks. It's also a popular spot for fall foliage viewing, so during the autumn, it's always bustling with tourists.
Make sure to check this list when visiting Shikoku! All of these hot spring areas have varied features and unique qualities. Your heart and body will surely be healed by their perfect hot water and atmosphere. Bask in luxury here!
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.