5 Best Onsen Towns in Japan

Must-Visit Hot Spring Spots in Japan

Onsen (hot spring) is one of the best attractions in Japan. Accordingly, there are approx 27,000 hot spring sources and over 3,000 Onsen towns across the country from north to south. As much as Japanese people enjoy this hot treat, Onsen is also one of must-do things for foreign travellers. In case you are thinking which Onsen towns in Japan to visit, today, I have picked 5 most popular and famous hot spring resorts of the country. Let’s check out the best Onsen towns and what to love them about most!

1. Dogo Onsen (道後温泉)

Dogo Onsen (道後温泉) is located in Matsuyama city, Ehime prefecture. It is known as “the Oldest Onsen in Japan” which apparently was discovered in ancient times! The existing building public bathhouse of Dogo Onsen, which was built in 1894, was a model for the main Onsen building in the famous movie “Spirited Away” by Hayao Miyazaki from Studio Ghibli. It’s the most historical Onsen destination in Japan!

2. Arima Onsen (有馬温泉)

The popular Onsen resort in Hyogo prefecture, which can be easily accessed from Kobe and Osaka. Arima Onsen (有馬温泉) is one of the oldest Onsens in Japan and has a great nostalgic atmosphere. Also Arima Onsen’ spring water is known for containing ingredients which has therapeutic effects for many diseases. The town has two types of hot spring water: the Kinsen (gold water) which has light brown colour containing iron deposits and salt. It is believed to be good for skin and muscle pain. the Ginsen (silver water) which is the clear water containing radium and carbonate to ease muscle and joint pains.

3. Gero Onsen (下呂温泉)

Copyright © 2015. Gero City

Considered as Japan’s top 3 Onsen towns for many decades. Gero Onsen (下呂温泉) is located in Takayama City, Gifu Prefecture. To enjoy Gero Onsen fully, it is recommended to get “Yumeguri Tegata”(Onsen pass) which can be purchased with 1,300 JPY and allows you to visit up to three bathes within area. Gero Onsen can be reached easily from Nagoya city, Takayama city or Shirakawago Villages.

4. Yufuin Onsen (湯布院温泉)

Yufuin (湯布院温泉) is the biggest Onsen district in Kyushu region. It’s located in Oita Prefecture, which has the most hot spring sauces and produces the biggest amount of hot spring water in Japan. The nearby Onsen town, Beppu is also a famous Onsen spot in the prefecture. Yufuin offers plenty attractions to tourists with shops, museums, restaurants, mountains, lake etc. The best part of Yufuin could be the outdoor bath with splendid landscape.

5. Kusatsu Onsen (草津温泉)

Although Gunma prefecture is known as “Onsen prefecture” and has numbers of Onsen resort, I must say that Kusatsu Onsen (草津温泉) can not be beaten by any others. Having a magnificent Onsen source “Yubatake” (hot water filed) as the symbol, the steamy and nostalgic Kusatsu has to be the best scenic Onsen district. “Yumomi” is also famous there which is the traditional way to cool down hot water with wooden paddles.The accessibility from Tokyo is another great point.

▽More info about Kusatsu▽


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"The world is my oyster" A globetrotter 🌎 and hammock lover 🌞 who loves taking adventures to fuel wanderlust. Born and raised in Japan, I have lived and explored countries around the world. As a resident of Japan and based on my travel experience, I'd love to share my knowledge and tips for travelling Japan with my readers. I hope my story will help you plan your trip and have a great time in Japan 🌈