Easy Access from Tokyo to a Hot Spring Heaven! 10 Selected Onsen in Shizuoka
Shizuoka Prefecture, home to the spectacular Mt. Fuji, has easy access from Tokyo by shinkansen (bullet train), with the trip taking about an hour. It is a popular sightseeing spot for Japanese and foreign tourists alike. There are nearly 40 onsen (hot spring) resorts in Shizuoka Prefecture, and here are our picks for the top 10, including well-known spots as well as hidden gems.
Jan 10 2019 (Jan 01 2021)
1. Atami Onsen (Atami)
Atami Onsen is an old-fashioned hot spring with about 1,250 years of history. It is quite close to Tokyo, taking 35 minutes by shinkansen, which makes it an extremely popular hot spring resort that is constantly crowded with visitors.
The water type for 90% of Atami’s hot springs is either “chloride” or “sulfate.” The salts contained in these types of water are said to be effective for cold sensitivity and women’s diseases. The salts also give the spring water an enjoyably smooth feeling on the skin.
A long time ago, Atami’s hot springs gushed out from the ocean floor, warming the surrounding ocean. This gave Atami its name, as the kanji (Chinese characters) that spell Atami (熱海) mean “heat” (熱) and “ocean” (海). The city is located by the sea and boasts an outstanding landscape. There is also a lot of fresh seafood, taken straight from the nearby ocean, that is popular with visitors as well.
2. Ito Onsen (Ito)
The Ito Onsen area has a number of hot spring wells that generate a nation-leading volume of hot water. Since there is plenty of hot water, there are many hot spring facilities where fresh water is constantly added, and the hot water doesn’t have to be circulated and used again. These types of hot spring baths are called “kake-nagashi.” The type of hot springs here are mainly simple springs and “weak salt” springs. The “weak salt” spring is a type of hot spring containing a small amount of salt. They have a high moisturizing effect.
While a beautiful hot spring in a luxury ryokan (Japanese traditional hotel/inn) is of course very nice, we also recommend trying out a cheaper public bath. There are seven public baths in Ito named after the Seven Lucky Gods who bring good luck, and each of the baths has a landmark statue of one of the Seven Lucky Gods at the entrance. If you have a bath at one of these locations, you may be blessed with several benefits!
There are also several hand baths and foot baths that visitors can enjoy in the town. Even just by bathing your hands or feet, your whole body will warm up. These baths are also free to use!
3. Shuzenji Onsen (Shuzenji Temple)
Shuzenji Onsen is one of the many historical hot springs in the Izu Peninsula, and it is said to have first opened about 1,200 years ago. The type of spring water used in this facility is called “alkaline simple.” This type of water offers many benefits for problems such as neuralgia, muscle pain, and joint pain. Everyone can enjoy the hot spring, as it is safe even for the elderly and children.
When you get tired of walking, take a break at the Tokko no Yu. This is a foot bath located in an “azumaya,” which is a resting place along the river. It is free to use, and you can put your feet into the hot water for a while, gradually warming your whole body.
While it is not a hot spring, if you visit Shuzenji Onsen, we definitely recommend you stop by Chikurin no Shokei (Bamboo Forest Path). This is a small bamboo forest with many cobblestone paths. It is located along the Katsura River, which flows through the center of the Shuzenji Onsen area. Visitors can take a stroll and enjoy the atmosphere of the bamboo forest.
4. Dogashima Onsen (Shuzenji)
The Dogashima Onsen area has hot springs that are located in a scenic spot along the sea. It is a legendary spa resort, where a large number of soldiers were healed of their wounds in the spring water 700 to 800 years ago. The type of water used here is “soft alkaline simple.”
Visitors can enjoy the magnificent sea views from the outdoor bath in the Dogashima Onsen Hotel. It is a marvelous sight, and makes you feel as if you're in the ocean yourself. You can also get a view of Sanshiro Island, which only peeks out of the ocean at low tide.
In the summer holiday season, this area becomes very busy with visitors playing at the beach. However, there are other activities outside of summer that visitors can enjoy, including sites such as a cave on the sea and a beautiful sunset. A dip in the hot spring is the best way to heal a tired body from sightseeing outdoors.
5. Izu Nagaoka Onsen (Izu-Nagaoka)
Izu Nagaoka Onsen is a hot spring resort area situated in the middle of the Izu Peninsula. It’s an easy place to visit, as it takes about 2 hours and 10 minutes from Shinjuku by express bus, and it is also close to Hakone, which is another famous hot spring area.
The Izu Nagaoka Onsen refers to Kona Onsen, which has a history of over 1,300 years, and Nagaoka Onsen, which was discovered about 100 years ago. In addition to the hot springs at the many ryokan, there are plenty of facilities available that offer one-day hot spring trips without having to spend the night. The hot springs in this area use “simple” type spring water.
The Izu Nagaoka Onsen area is also attractive for offering a look into an old-fashioned Japanese townscape. There are also activities such as the rifle range, where visitors can get a prize if they hit the doll (open from 7 o'clock in the evening). There is a temple in the center of the town, an aquarium, cable cars, and lots of other fun places for sightseeing.
6. Heda Onsen (Shuzenji)
Heda Onsen is a hot spring resort area facing Suruga Bay. Mt. Fuji can be seen beyond the bay, especially at dusk, and visitors can enjoy this beautiful sight from the baths. The type of spring water is “sulfate,” which is effective for soothing high blood pressure and skin diseases.
It's a new hot spring that opened about 30 years ago, so it has unique facilities, such as a dog bath where pets are allowed to use the hot spring, and a hot spring “station” similar to a gas station. There is also a hot spring drinking area, and a free foot bath at the roadside station.
Compared to famous places such as Atami and Ito, this spot has fewer tourists and is not so busy, so visitors can relax and enjoy various views with a shot of Mt. Fuji in the background.
7. Atagawa Onsen (Izu-Atagawa)
Atagawa Onsen is a hot spring resort area that is located on the east side of the Izu Peninsula and is surrounded by the sea and the mountains. Atagawa (熱川) means "warm river water", and this hot spring was named this because it was discovered when they found monkeys soaking in its warm waters. The type of water in the hot springs is “chloride,” which is good for its warming and moisturizing effects.
There are many spring sources in the Atagawa area, and some of the ryokan even have their own spring source. There is a lot of hot water, and many minerals from the spring water often build up around the edges of the bathtub and faucets. It is a place that can be enjoyed by anyone from hot spring enthusiasts to first timers.
With an abundance of hot water in Atagawa Onsen, there are also a lot of sinter cones with vapor spouting from them, covering the town in steam. You can enjoy an onsen experience just by taking a stroll around town.
8. Umegashima Onsen (Shizuoka)
Umegashima Onsen is a secluded hot spring resort area near the prefectural border between Shizuoka and Yamanashi Prefectures. Visitors can enjoy the historic and majestic nature of these hot springs, which were discovered about 1,700 years ago.
The type of spring water used here is “simple sulfur.” The hot spring water has a silky feel and sticks to the skin, with soothing effects for neuralgia and gastrointestinal diseases. A characteristic scent like that of boiled egg is also proof of a good sulfur spring.
There are about 10 ryokan lined up along the river, and the view of these old traditional Japanese-style buildings is quite a charming sight.
9. Sumatakyo Onsen (Senzu)
Sumatakyo Onsen is a hot spring resort area located at the foot of the Akaishi Range (the Japanese Southern Alps) that runs through Nagano, Yamanashi, and Shizuoka Prefectures. The spring water comes from the Southern Alps, and has a temperature of 43.7°C (110.7°F). The “simple sulfur” type of spring water used here is great for the skin, and the local people think that it is especially good for keeping a woman's skin looking young and beautiful.
Visitors can purchase a coupon ticket made of a wooden board (1,000 yen) from ryokan or souvenir shops. With the wooden ticket, visitors can visit three of any bath of their choice in Sumatakyo Onsen, giving the experience a very reasonable price that is well worth taking advantage of when visiting these hot springs.
Because of the natural beauty surrounding the hot spring location, visitors can enjoy spectacular scenery that changes with the seasons. There are many beautiful sights, such as a suspension bridge across a cobalt blue dam lake called the "Dream Suspension Bridge" (Yume no Tsuribashi). There is also a steam train, and the region is especially well known for its beautiful autumn scenery.
10. Kanzanji Onsen (Hamamatsu)
Kanzanji Onsen is a hot spring resort area located just outside of Lake Hamana (Hamana-ko). This well-known scenic area became a hot spring resort in 1958, which makes it a relatively new hot spring resort among the others in Shizuoka Prefecture. Lake Hamana is a large lake that spreads out in front of the hot spring resort area and provides ocean-like views.
The type of spring water used here is “chloride strong salt.” A lot of salt is contained in the hot water, which is effective for soothing neuralgia and assisting with muscle pain recovery. There are many hot spring facilities with spacious bathtubs where even a large number of people can relax and stretch out their arms and legs.
This area is also famous for beautiful scenery, so many visitors are attracted for this reason as well. The top of the mountain is accessible via a ropeway, and visitors can enjoy views of Lake Hamana and the hot spring town below.
Hot springs don’t simply fall under a single category, as there are many subtle differences to choose from, such as the spring water type and the atmosphere. There are many hot springs in Shizuoka Prefecture, and visitors will surely find their favorite hot spring among the wealth of options. When you visit Shizuoka Prefecture, don’t be shy and challenge yourself to try out the hot springs!
Title Image: Sakchai Yurak / Shutterstock
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.