Onsen Resorts

The ritual of bathing in onsen has been enjoyed by the Japanese for centuries - they are still revered today for their healing properties and ability to breakdown social barriers. This volcanic archipelago has an endless source of mineral-rich geothermically heated water meaning that you’ll find thousands of onsen – indoor, outdoor, public or attached to hotels or ryokan, all over the country.

What to see

Yudanaka Onsen

Yudanaka Onsen

The onsen village of Yudanaka is the most famous of a string of onsen villages on the edge of the Joshinetsu Kogen National Park in the Japanese Alps. Located about one and a half hours from Matsumoto whilst there are plenty of onsen baths in which to relax here, the hot springs are actually better known for their snow monkeys. The delightful Japanese Macaque, called snow monkeys due to the fact that they live in areas that are covered in snow for months at a time, can most easily be seen in the monkey park near Kambayashi Onsen. Here you can watch them soaking in and frolicking around the hot pools.

Arima Onsen

Arima Onsen

Arima is one of the ‘Three Old Hot Springs’ of Japan, with documentation going back to the 8th century about its use for bathing. Located next to the city of Kobe, just 45 minutes from Osaka, Arima sits at the base of Mount Rokko in a lovely natural setting. There are two types of geothermic water here – one loaded with iron and salt, the other radium and carbonate – you can even walk up to the sources of these two hot springs and a third cold spring from the onsen. There are three public baths here and many private ones – most hotels will have their own.

Minakami Onsen Area

Minakami Onsen Area

The Minakami Onsen Area, in the Gunma Prefecture,  is made up of 9 different onsen resorts all set amongst mountainous scenery and abundant nature. Minakami Onsen sits next to a picturesque mountain stream in the shadow of Mount Tanigawa – the gorge is lit at night adding a lovely atmosphere to the town. Nearby you’ll find the lovely resorts of Kusatsu, Ikaho and Sihma, whilst the most famous baths in the area at Takaragawa are some of the largest outdoor baths in Japan. The area is also the closest ski resort to Tokyo, three hours away by bullet train.

Lake Kawaguchiko

Lake Kawaguchiko

One of the Fuji Five Lakes, Kawaguchiko is perhaps the most convenient place to enjoy the onsen experience, with easy access from Tokyo just one and a half hours away by road. Around the shores of the lake you’ll find plenty of little onsen resorts – for the very best views of Mount Fuji head to a resort on its northeastern shore. Choose between public baths or private baths offered by hotels – you have to be staying at the hotel to bathe in some places.

Where to stay

Ryokan Biyu no Yado Yudanaka

In the centre of the resort of Yudanaka, the Biyu no Yado offers a choice of traditional Japanese-style and western-style rooms as well as both public and private onsen baths where you can soak in the thermal mineral waters of the area. Designed to provide a soothing and tranquil environment in which to relax, there is also a free shuttle to Snow Monkey Park.

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Fuji Onsenji Yumedono

This luxurious and traditional ryokan, excellently located close to the banks of Lake Kawaguchi and 1.5 miles from the city centre, is built in the impressive style of an old Japanese castle. Boasting a regal atmosphere each room has a private outdoor onsen, the gardens have Mount Fuji views and local food is served in traditional style in your room.

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Hotel Kinzan Arima

Well located in the resort town of Arima, the Hotel Kinzan is an elegant and refined ryokan (Japanese Inn). With it's relaxed ambiance there is nowhere better to enjoy a soak in Japan's renowned hot springs and traditional Japanese hospitality. Choose between Japanese and western style accommodation and dine on Kobe beef a specialty of the acclaimed ryotei (Japanese style restaurant). Please note this hotel does not accept solo travellers.

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