Best Onsen in Japan

Hot Springs in Japan

Onsen, hot spring bath, is one of the most unique and fascinating things about Japan and it’s an important part of life for Japanese people. Accordingly, there are over 3,000 Onsen spots and over 20,000 hot spring sources in the country. It is said that the history of Japan and Onsen has started before 7th century!

There are numbers of Onsen resorts across Japan from north to south, and they are top tourist destinations among both Japanese and foreign visitors. If you are into Japanese culture, Onsen is one thing that you should definitely experience! Or if you are simply looking for a place to relax while travlling in Japan, soaking up in a warm hot spring bath could be also a perfect choice.

In case your are wondering which Onsen town to visit in Japan, please check out this list of the best Onsen in Japan with a Japan Onsen Map and find a perfect Onsen destination for you!

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Onsen in Japan

So how much do we know about Onsen? Is it just a simple bath with hot spring water? Let me tell you one thing that Onsen in Japan is much deeper than just a bath. It’s more like the whole experience of understanding Japanese culture.

It could be all new to most of foreign people in Japan as the Onsen culture is very special and distinctive. Before going on a journey through the Japanese Onsen culture, there are certain points that should be acknowledged beforehand, for example, how to bath in Onsen respectfully and without offending local people. More you know about Japanese Onsen culture, I bet more you will enjoy your Onsen experience!

If you wish to check out the Onsen manners-dos and don’ts, please check out the listed article below!

▶ Japanese Onsen Etiquette: Dos and Don’ts

-Best Onsen in Hokkaido and Tohoku Region


It’s little known but Hokkaido is home to over 250 Onsen spots which is the biggest number among 47 prefectures in Japan. The prefecture’s most famous Onsen town, Noboribetsu Onsen (登別温泉) is located within Shikotsu-Toya National Park.

Noboribetsu, a.k.a. the Department Store of Onsen, offers many kinds of hot spring bath, boasting 9 different types of spring water and an abundant amount of natural water of 10,000 tons per day. It’s easy to access from popular tourist destinations such as Sapporo and Hakodate, and has numbers of ryokan and hotels with onsen bath. The landmark of Noboribetsu is Jigokudani (Hell Valley), the main source of Noboribetsu hot spring where visitors can walk through the paths with the scenic view of crater with steam rising and volcanic activity.


More info: Hokkaido’s No.1 Onsen Resort: Noboribestu

Lake Toya

Toyako Onsen (洞爺湖温泉) is a Onsen town located off the shore of Lake Toya (Toyako), a part of the Shikotsu-Toya National Park in southwest Hokkaido. There are several luxurious accommodation along the lake, offering rooms and Onsen baths with the stunning views of the crystal clear water of Lake Toya and the active volcano Mount Usu.

Around Toyako Onsen is a great area for outdoor activities, such as hiking and fishing. There are also several seasonal events taking place around the lake including fireworks in summer and illuminations in winter.


More info: Lake Toya Onsen: Best View Onsen Town in Hokkaido

Check out more Onsen towns in Hokkaido ▶ Best Onsen in Hokkaido


Nyuto Onsen (乳頭温泉)  is a traditional Onsen village situated inside Towada-Hachimantai National Park in Akita Prefecture. Being tucked away in a deep mountain, the secluded Onsen village offers a sense of tranquility and calmness.

There are 7 types of Onsen baths with accommodation facilities in Nyuto Onsen village, and each one has own hot spring source and offers different qualities and effects. All Onsen are outdoor and offer a great scenery of the forest and mountain. During winter, the scenery gets even more special as it’s covered with thick snow.


More info: Nyuto Onsen: The Hidden Onsen Village in Northern Japan


Ginzan Onsen (銀山温泉) is an Onsen town located on the mountain in Yamagata Prefecture. Ginzan means “Silver Mountain” in Japanese, which actually associate with the history of the place as it grew from silver mining and production between 15th to 17th century.

Ginza Onsen is famous for its picturesque and nostalgic townscape with retro wooden ryokan buildings lined along the river which makes you feel as if you travelled back in Taisho era. At night, the town is lit by warm lights of ryokan and gas lamps, creating a dreamy scenery.


More info: Fly Back to 19th Century: Nostalgic GINZAN Onsen


Naruko Onsen (鳴子温泉) is an Onsen village in the northern Miyagi Prefecture, nestled in Naruko Gorge, the famous autumn foliage spot in Japan. It’s one of the oldest hot spring spots in Japan with the history of 1,200 years since the hot spring was first discovered in 837.

It’s home to impressively 370 hot spring sources with 9 types of waters out of 11 that exist in Japan. Many hotels and ryokan inns offer onsen baths with hot spring water flowing directly from their own sources. The Onsen village consists of a group of 5 hot springs: Naruko Hot Spring, Higashi Naruko Hot Spring, Kawatabi Hot Spring, Nakayamadaira Hot Spring, and Onikobe Hot Spring. Each hot spring water has different characteristics and health benefits.

Besides Onsen, Naruko Onsen is famous for Kokeshi, traditional wooden doll which is a popular handicraft souvenir from the area. Kokeshi dolls are also produced in some other areas in Tohoku Region, but Naruko Kokeshi dolls have some unique features such as squeaky sound that they make when the head is turned.


-Best Onsen in Kanto Region


Kinugawa Onsen (鬼怒川温泉) is a popular Onsen resort along the Kinugawa River in Tochigi Prefecture. Kinugawa boasts many small and large accommodation with Onsen baths from traditional Japanese ryokan to luxurious hotels.

It’s surrounded by rich nature and various outdoor activities and attractions are available within the area such as hiking, parks, river cruising, waterfall, lake, etc. Kinugawa Onsen is one of the most ideal places to stay along with your visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Nikko Toshogu Shrine and other important historical sites.



Kusatsu (草津), the famous Onsen town on the mountain in Gunma Prefecture, is one of nation’s favourite Onsen spots as it has been chosen for the best Onsen town in Japan for multiple times. Situated in the town center of Kusatsu, the symbolic “Yubatake” (means hot water field) is the main source of hot spring water in Kusatsu area gushing about 4,000 liter of hot water per minute.

Around Yubatake, there are numbers of traditional accommodation with onsen baths, shops and restaurants. The scenery of Yubatake gets even more magical with its steam lit by dim lights. One of Kusatsu Onsen’s unique attractions is Yumomi, a traditional way to cool down hot spring water involving traditional costume, folk song and dance. Yumomi performances are held daily at Netsunoyu.


More info: Kusatsu Onsen: Best Things to Do

Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku

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Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku (宝川温泉汪泉閣) has been a favoutite Onsen spot among many foreign visitors to Japan and featured on numbers of international travel media including Lonely Planet. Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku is a Japanese ryokan with a scenic outdoor bath located in Minakami Town, Gunma Prefecture.

The huge open-air Onsen bath is situated along the river and surrounded by the rich nature, offering a superb scenery that changes according to the season. There are mixed gender baths which you can bathe with a special bathing clothes on.


More info: Takaragawa Onsen : Wonderful Day Trip Onsen from Tokyo


Hakone (箱根) is a mountainous town in northwest Kanagawa Prefecture. It’s a very popular getaway from Tokyo as it’s accessible and takes less than 2 hours from central Tokyo. Hakone is best known for hot spring and the spectacular scenery of Mt Fuji. At some hotels, you can enjoy the view of Mt Fuji from their Onsen bath.

There are many other attractions that Hakone offers tourists such as beautiful nature, historic sites, museum, parks, restaurants, etc. One of the most popular activities is cruising on Lake Ashi, the symbolic lake in Hakone with the majestic view of Mt Fuji.


More info: Hakone Onsen Guide

-Best Onsen in Tokai and Chubu Region

Lake Kawaguchi

Lake Kawaguchi or Kawaguchiko (河口湖) is an ideal Onsen spot for visitors to Mt Fuji. It’s one of the Fuji Five Lakes and offers a spectacular view of Mt Fuji over the lake. There are numbers of facilities and attractions for tourists around the lake such as hot spring, museums, rope-way, cruising boats and various seasonal charms such as cherry blossoms and autumn leaves.

Many visitors also extend their trips to other scenic spots of Mt Fuji or Fuji Q Highland amusement park. A large number of hotels and ryokans are located by the lake and some of them offer Onsen bathes with amazing scenery of Mt.Fuji.


More info: 5 Hot Springs at Lake Kawaguchi with a View of Mt.Fuji!


Atami (熱海) is a seaside resort town located in the coastline of Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka Prefecture. Along with Hakone, it’s one of the most popular short trip destination among Tokioite especially in summer time. The coastal town offers an amazing beach along with a plenty of option for eating out and staying with hot spring baths.

Around the area, there are a number of tourist attractions such as Atami Castle, shrines, garden, museums, etc. Besides Atami, there are numbers of Onsen resorts on Izu Peninsula, offering a similar quality of Onsen baths, food and attractions


More info: Atami: Best Things to Do


Shibu Onsen (渋温泉) is a traditional and charming Onsen town tucked away in the mountain in Nagano Prefecture. The quaint hot spring town offers an ambience of nostalgy with the historic buildings and cobblestoned streets, which makes you feel as if you are back in time. Accordingly the history of Shibu Onsen started 1300 years ago during Nara Period by being descovered by a monk. There are some Onsen ryokans and bathhouses that have over 100 years history.

Sibu Onsen is an ideal place to stay along with your visit to Jigokudani Monket Park a.k.a. the Snow Monkey, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country.



Gero Onsen (下呂温泉) is an Onsen town surrounded by mountains in Gifu Prefecture. It’s considered as one of Japan’s top three Onsen along with Arima Onsen in Hyogo and Kusatsu Onsen in Gunma. Gero Onsen is particularly renowned for the quality of the hot spring water which has various beneficial effects for skin and health. The natural spring water of Gero Onsen gushes out at 84°C  and the transparent water has a smooth texture and a faint scent.

From traditional ryokan to modern hotels, there are a wide range of accommodation available in the town. If you wish to visit more than one Onsen bath in Gero Onsen town, it’s highly recommended to purchase “Yumeguri Tegata”, an Onsen pass that allows you to visit up to three Onsen baths within the town.


-Best Onsen in Kansai and Shikoku Region

Nanki Shirahama

Nanki Shirahama Onsen (南紀白浜温泉), situated in the Pacific coast of the Kii Peninsula in Wakayama Prefecture, is one of the best destinations to enjoy both Onsen and beach in Japan. It’s counted as one of three greatest seaside hot spring resorts in Japan alongside Atami in Shizuoka and Beppu in Oita.

The Onsen is located next to the crescent-shaped white sand beach, Shirahama which literally means “White Beach”. As it’s a top resort destination in Kansai region, there is no lack of tourist attractions around including nature spots, theme parks, museums, etc.



Arima Onsen (有馬温泉) is a traditional Onsen resort located in Kita ward, Kobe City, Hyogo, Prefecture, behind Mt Rokko. As mentioned above, Arima Onsen is considered as one of the best three hot springs in Japan. Arima Onsen has two types of spring waters: Kinsen that has brownish colour and contains iron and salt, and Ginsen that has no colour and contains radium and carbonate.

It’s also one of the oldest hot springs in Japan and known as a favourite Onsen of Hideyoshi Toyotomi, one of the most famous Japanese samurai and warlord from 16th century, whose statue can be found in the town. While Arima Onsen is situated within the modern city Kobe, it attracts visitors with its tranquility and surrounding beautiful nature away from the hustle and bustle from the city.



Kinosaki Onsen (城崎温泉) is an Onsen town in Toyooka City, northern Hyogo Prefecture along the seacoast of the Sea of Japan. Kinosaki Onsen has been chosen for the Best Onsen Town in Japan by Lonely Planet, and attracts visitors by its traditional and charming townscape with historic buildings and willow trees lined along the canal.

Visitors enjoy strolling down the street with a nostalgic ambience, wearing Yukata (cotton kimono) and Geta (wooden sandals). Kinosaki Onsen has approx 80 Onsen ryokans and 7 public bathhouses called Sotoyu, and the popular activity in Kinosaki is Sotoyu Meguri, touring all the public bathhouses, which allows you to have various Onsen experience as each Onsen of Sotoyu has its own characteristics such as design, time of establishment and temperature of the spring water.


More info: Kinosaki Onsen: the Charming Hot Spring Town in Western Japan


Dogo Onsen (道後温泉) is located in Matsuyama City, Ehime Prefecture. It is known as the oldest Onsen in Japan which is believed to be discovered in ancient times, and is even mentioned in the ancient texts of the Kojiki, Manyoshu and Genji Monogatari.

The landmark of Dogo Onsen, Dogo Onsen Honkan, a wooden public bathhouse built in 1894 is said to be the inspiration for the main bathhouse building appeared in Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpiece, Spirited Away. Inside the building, there is a special bathroom reserved for the Imperial Family called Yushinden, which is now open for public viewing.


-Best Onsen in Kyushu Region


When it comes to Onsen, we can’t ignore Oita Prefecture a.k.a. the Onsen Prefecture. Oita has the largest number of hot spring sources and produces biggest amount of hot spring water of all prefectures in Japan. Beppu (別府) is a city and popular hot spring resort in Oita along the Beppu Bay. It’s divided into eight major hot spring areas known as Beppu Hatto.

Being home to approx 2,000 hot spring sources, a variety of Onsen can be enjoyed in the city such as indoor/outdoor baths, sand bath, steam bath and mud bath. There are also hot spring related attractions such as the Hell, unique hot springs for viewing and steam cooking. (Related article: Beppu Onsen Jigoku Hell Tour)


More info Beppu: Beppu Onsen : the Unique Hot Spring Town in Oita, Japan


Yufuin (由布院) is another popular Onsen destination in Oita Prefecture, which is about 30km west of Beppu City. Comparing to Beppu, Yufuin offers more tranquil atmosphere surrounded by rich nature. In some Onsen baths, you can enjoy the splendid rural scenery with Mt Yufu, the natural landmark of Yufuin.

The main street of Yufuin is lined with fancy cafes, restaurants and shops, and numbers of art museums and galleries are also situated around the area. Lake Kinrin is another landmark of Yufuin, a small lake which can be walked around in 15 mins and because its water temperature is high throughout the year, the mystical sight of steam rising from the lake surface can be captured early in the morning during winter.



Kurokawa Onsen (黒川温泉) is an Onsen village tucked away in a deep valley of Mt Aso in Kumamoto Prefecture, near the border with Oita Prefecture. The village is surrounded by nature with lush green mountains and in each season, the different scenery of surrounding nature can be enjoyed. Kurokawa Onsen consists of 30 traditional ryokan inns with Onsen baths as well as shops and restaurants, and keeps its nostalgic scenery that blends into nature.

The entire village is considered as one single inn and with that concept, the town offers an Onsen pass called Onsen Tegata, which allows visitors to use three Onsen baths of their choice. During winter, Kurokawa Onsen holds a special light-up event, featuring hundreds of lanterns crafted from bamboo that gently illuminate the riverbank in the town.



Ibusuki Onsen (指宿温泉) is a hot spring town located at the southern tip of Satsuma Peninsula in Kagoshima Prefecture. Ibusuki is rich in hot spring sources with approx 500 Onsen spots in town. Besides regular Onsen baths, Ibusuki offers visitors a rare and unique Onsen experience with sand bath spas using naturally heated black sand, which are available at several hotels and bathhouses in town.

At sand baths, guests wear special robes then are buried in hot sand and bathe for 10 to 20 mins. The sand bath in Ibusuki is considered to bring great effects for health such as relaxing muscles, detox and better blood circulation.


More info: Ibusuki: Hot Sand Bath Onsen Town Kagoshima!

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Which Onsen in Japan do you want to visit most? Each Onsen has different characteristics such as  the texture, colour, effect and temperature of the water, as well as facility and surrounding scenery. There are a variety of Onsen in Japan, and you can choose one according to your preferences and the area you are travelling to.

You can review the best Onsen in Japan with our Japan Onsen Map to check the locations as well as nearby attractions and points of interests! Hope you gave a great Onsen experience in Japan!

Are you looking for more information about Onsen in Japan? Here are some more articles that you may be interested!

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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 🌈