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1. Shikaribetsu kotan [Hokkaido]

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David McKelvey/Flickr

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David McKelvey/Flickr

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David McKelvey/Flickr

Hokkaido’s Shikaribetsu Lake has a harsh climate of below freezing in the wintertime. “Shikaribetsu kotan” is open only from the end of January to late March. On the lake, coffee-colored natural hot springs, ice bars, ice hotels, and so forth are opened by the local people. “Kotan” is the indigenous people’s, the Ainu, word for village.

HP: www.h-fukuhara.jp/kotan01.html (Japanese Only)

Address: Lake Shikaribetsu, Shikaoi-chou, Kato-gun, Hokkaido (Google Map)

2. Nyuutou Onsenkyou [Akita]

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www.nyuto-onsenkyo.com

Nyuutou Onsenkyou in Akita Prefecture is a village of 8 hot spring hotels at the base of Mt. Eboshi (1478m). It is gaining attention for being the filming site for the Korean drama “Iris.” The climate of Tohoku in winter is very harsh, and the glow that shines from inside the snowscape is a very elegant and beautiful sight. This hot spring is recommended for anyone who wants to enjoy Japan’s unchanged landscape.

Access Get off Akita Shinkansen Komachi at JR Tazawako Station and ride the bus from there 

HP: www.tsurunoyu.com/english.html

HP: www.tsurunoyu.com (Japanese)

Address: 50 Sendatsuzawa Kokuyuurin,  Tazawako Tazawa, Senboku-shi, Akita-ken (Google Map)

3. Ginzan Onsen Takimikan [Yamagata]

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Syuzo Tsushima/Flickr

Ginzan Onsen in the Yamagata Prefecture is an area that prospered as a large silver mine during the Edo Period and was a prospering hot spring town during the Showa Period. The retro-style buildings and townscape have charm, and you can enjoy a feeling of time travel. At Takimikan’s open air baths, you can experience the beautiful nature of each season, including the fall colors and winter snow. 

Access Get off Yamagata Shinkansen at Oishida, from the station by car is approx 30 minutes

HP: www.takimikan.jp/ (Japanese Only)

Address: 522 Ginzanshinhata, Obanazawa-shi, Yamagata-ken (Google Map)

4. Fujikawaguchiko Onsenkyou Kozantei Ubiya [Yamanashi]

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www.ubuya.co.jp

Fujikawaguchiko Onsenkyou Kozantei Ubiya is a scenic hot spring in the Yamanashi Prefecture where you can get in an open air bath while gazing at Mt. Fuji. You can see Mt. Fuji from the indoor hot spring and inside your room, and the inn refuses to compromise on quality by using anti-fog glass so you can see beautiful Mt. Fuji. 

Access From Kawaguchiko Station by taxi is 10 minutes

HP: www.489pro.com/asp/489/menu.asp?id=19000027&ty=lim,ser&plan=&lan=ENG

HP: www.japanican.com/Traditional-Chinese/hotels/ShisetsuDetail.aspx?st=4258007 (中文)

HP: www.ubuya.co.jp/ (Japanese)

Address: 10 Asakawa, Fujikawaguchiko-machi, Minami Tsuru-gun, Yamanashi (Google Map)

5. Takamine Onsen Lamp Inn [Nagano]

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www.takamine.co.jp

Takamine Onsen Lamp Inn in Nagano Prefecture is an open air bath with superb scenery and an elevation of 2000 meters above the clouds. Overlooking the Takamine Valley below, you can bathe while gazing at the entire starry sky. You can enjoy hiking nearby and star-gazing.

Access From Tokyo to Sakudaira Station in Nagano Prefecture by high speed bus is about 2 hours and 50 minutes, from Sakudaira Station by JR bus is about 1 hour

HP: www.takamine-onsen-hitou.com/

HP: www.takamine-onsen-hitou.com/?%E6%B3%89-%E4%BA%A4%E9%80%9A (中文)

HP: www.takamine.co.jp/bb/ (Japanese)

Address: Takaminekogen, Komoro-shi, Nagano-ken (Google Map)

6. Jigokudani Onsen Kourakukan [Nagano]

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St Stev/Flickr

Jigokutani Onsen in Nagano Prefecture is gaining attention from all over the world because you can see monkeys while in the hot spring. Kourakukan has been a Japanese inn for about 150 years since 1864 and is now an area within a national park. When it becomes winter, the monkeys will get in the hot spring to escape the intense cold.  They are very cute monkeys, but since they are wild animals, we recommend keeping a moderate distance.

Access From Nagano Station get on the express bus going to Shigakogen and get off at the Kanbayashi Onsen bus stop exit 

HP: www.mountaintrad.co.jp/~korakukan/ (Japanese Only)

Address: Jigokutani Onsen, Yama no Uchimachi, Shimotakai-gun, Nagano-ken (Google Map)

7. Yoshigaura Lamp Inn [Ishikawa]

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www.lampnoyado.co.jp

Located on the coast of the Noto Peninsula in the Ishikawa Prefecture, Yoshiagaura Lamp Inn is an area called “the cape of the western regions of China.” Nearby there is picturesque scenery of blue caverns and the inn itself is also lit up blue, so it’s magical to gaze at the Sea of Japan while in an open air bath.

Access From Haneda Airport to Noto Satoyama Airport is 60 minutes, from the airport to the inn is 80 minutes by train

HP: www.lampnoyado.co.jp/en/index_en.html

HP: www.lampnoyado.co.jp/ (Japanese)

Address: Yoshigaura Onsen, 10-11 Misakimachi Jike, Suzu-shi, Ishikawa-ken (Google Map)

8. Himi Onsenkyou Kutsurogi Inn Akari Umi [Toyama]

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www.umiakari.jp

At Himi Onesenkyou no Umiagari in the Toyama Prefecture, you can gaze at the Sea of Japan while in an open air bath. On days when the weather is good, the morning sun can easily be seen rising from the mountains on the opposite shore. The Sea of Japan has an extensive, abundant fishing zone, and the fresh fish-based cooking is exquisite.

Access From Tokyo to Toyoma by Hokuriku Shinkansen is 2 hours, from Toyama to Himi Station by train is 1 hour, and there is courtesy transportation from the station.

HP: www.umiakari.jp/ (Japanese Only)

Address: (Nadaurakaigan) Unami, Himi-shi, Toyama-ken (Google Map)

9. Hotel Urashima [Wakayama]

 

Hotel Urashima is in the southernmost part of the Wakayama Prefecture and can be accessed from the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kumano Kodou. The Boukidou cavern open air baths are natural hot springs where you can gaze at the Pacific Ocean from inside the caverns.  You can enjoy a tuna dissection show and all-you-can-eat tuna as well at Hotel Urashima.

Access From Osaka to Kii-Katsuura Station by Kuroshio limited express is 3 hours and 40 minutes,  take the courtesy turtle boat from the harbor that is 5 minutes from the station and it’s not long after that 

HP: www.hotelurashima.co.jp/en/

HP: www.hotelurashima.co.jp/ (Japanese Only)

Address: 1165-2 Katuura, Hachikatsuura-cho, Higashimuro-gun, Wakayama-ken (Google Map)

10. Scenic Outdoor Bath Inn Ginpaso [Hyogo]

Said to have the greatest scenic view in western Japan, Ginpaso has a boundless view of the Pacific Ocean from an open air bath. The endless scenery of hot springs, ocean, and sky is superb. There is a lot of townscape in Ako left over from the Edo Period, and you can enjoy sightseeing as well as go to UNESCO World Heritage Site Himeji Castle, which is one hour away.

Access From JR Banshu-Ako Station JR by courtesy bus 15 minutes 

HP: www.ginpaso.co.jp/e/index.html

HP: www.ginpaso.co.jp/c/index.html (中文)

HP: www.ginpaso.co.jp/ (Japanese)

Address: 2-8 Misaki, Ako-shi, Hyogo-ken (Google Map)

11. Iwo Jima Higashi Hot Spring [Kagoshima]

Iwo Jima is one of the three chain islands of Mishima village in the Kagoshima Prefecture and has active volcanic activity. It’s a naturally-occurring hot spring, and you can watch the horizon while leisurely soaking. It’s known as one of the most secluded areas of Japan. It takes about 4 hours from Kagoshima main port by ferry, which operates 2-3 times a week. It takes about 50 minutes from Kagoshima airport by Cessna plane, which operates twice a week.

HP: mishimamura.com/tourism/394/ (Japanese Only)

Address: Iwo Jima, Mishima-mura, Kagoshima-gun, Kagoshima-ken (Google Map)

■ Hot Spring Etiquette

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Chi Tranter/Flickr

In hot springs where you are with other people, there are various manners. In order to have a fun trip, we will present the most important points. 

  1. First, with hot springs, there are men’s sections, women’s sections, mixed bathing, and private baths. There are also places that separate based on the time, so please double-check when entering.
  2. Wash your body before getting in the bathtub.
  3. Do not wear a towel in the bathtub.
  4. Do not get in after drinking alcohol.
  5. There are many places that do not allow tattoos. (The rules are currently changing, but please check with the hot spring beforehand to find out if people with tattoos use the private baths, etc.) 

HP: tg.tripadvisor.jp/enjoy-onsen/

Also Check: 12 Must-Know Sento and Onsen Etiquette

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