16 Best Onsen Towns to Soak in Hot Springs in Japan

The Best Onsen Towns to Soak in Hot Springs in Japan are renowned for their captivating onsen towns that offer a blissful escape into the soothing embrace of hot springs. Japan is a haven for hot spring enthusiasts, boasting numerous towns where you can indulge in the healing and relaxing powers of onsen. This article will explore the 16 best hot spring towns in Japan, each offering its unique blend of natural beauty, therapeutic waters, and cultural experiences. 

Kusatsu (Gunma)

Kusatsu Gunma

Kusatsu, located in Gunma Prefecture, is a renowned hot spring resort that offers a unique and authentic bathing experience. Known for having one of the most abundant hot spring water sources in Japan, Kusatsu is a paradise for those seeking relaxation and healing. The town is surrounded by beautiful mountains and boasts numerous hot spring sources. Visitors can immerse themselves in the soothing hot springs while enjoying the scenic beauty of the surrounding nature.

Kusatsu Onsen is one of Japan’s most famous hot spring towns. Renowned for its high-quality hot spring water, it is said to have healing properties. 

One of the main attractions in Kusatsu is Yubatake, a large open-air hot water field where the hot spring water is brought to the surface. This iconic site showcases the power of the springs with steam rising from the numerous wooden structures. Visitors can witness the impressive flow of hot spring water and even taste the hot spring water in designated drinking areas, believed to have medicinal properties beneficial to health. It’s one of the best onsen towns in Japan.

Kinosaki (Hyogo)

Kinosaki Hyogo
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Kinosaki Onsen, located in Hyogo Prefecture, is a charming and picturesque hot spring town steeped in tradition and history. It is renowned for its seven public bathhouses, known as “sotoyu,” which are a major attraction for visitors. Each bathhouse offers a different style and composition of hot spring water, providing a unique bathing experience. 

Visitors can enjoy hopping from one bathhouse to another, immersing themselves in the healing and relaxing thermal waters while admiring the traditional architecture and serene surroundings. It’s a stunning onsen in Japan.

Another must-visit attraction in Kinosaki Onsen is the Nishimuraya Honkan Ryokan, a historic inn that has been welcoming guests for over a century. The ryokan exudes traditional Japanese hospitality and offers luxurious accommodations, exquisite kaiseki meals, and private hot spring baths. Staying at Nishimuraya Honkan Ryokan provides an authentic and memorable experience that fully immerses visitors in the onsen culture of Kinosaki Onsen.

Hakone (Kanagawa)

Hakone Kanagawa

Hakone, located in Kanagawa Prefecture, is a captivating destination famous for its natural beauty, natural hot spring, and stunning views of Mount Fuji. This picturesque town offers a perfect escape from the bustling city life of nearby Tokyo. With its abundance of hot springs, Hakone is a popular choice for those seeking relaxation and rejuvenation.

Visitors can soak in the therapeutic mineral-rich waters, surrounded by breathtaking landscapes, and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere. It is considered as one of the famous onsen towns in Japan.

One of Hakone’s iconic attractions is the Hakone Open-Air Museum, a unique outdoor art museum set against the backdrop of beautiful mountains. The museum showcases a diverse collection of artworks, including sculptures and installations, creating a harmonious blend of art and nature. Strolling through the vast open-air grounds filled with sculptures, visitors can enjoy the serene ambiance while appreciating the art.

Noboribetsu (Hokkaido)

Noboribetsu Hokkaido

Noboribetsu, located in Hokkaido, is a renowned hot spring destination that offers a unique and memorable experience. Known as the “Valley of Hell,” Noboribetsu is famous for its geothermal activity and numerous hot springs. The town is home to Jigokudani, a geothermal valley with steaming vents and sulfurous hot springs that create a captivating and otherworldly atmosphere. Visitors can witness the mesmerizing beauty of the bubbling mud pools and steam rising from the ground, immersing themselves in a truly unique hot spring experience.

One of the most popular attractions in Noboribetsu is the Noboribetsu Onsen, a large hot spring resort with a variety of ryokans and public bathhouses. The hot spring waters in Noboribetsu are rich in minerals and believed to have healing properties.

Visitors can soak in the outdoor baths surrounded by lush greenery or relax in the indoor baths with views of serene gardens. The onsen experience in Noboribetsu provides a soothing and rejuvenating escape from everyday life. It’s one of the most beautiful onsen towns in Japan.

Gero (Gifu)

Gero Gifu

Gero, located in Gifu Prefecture, is a charming and historic town famous for its hot springs. With a history of over a thousand years, Gero Onsen is one of Japan’s top three Japanese hot spring resorts and is loved by locals and visitors alike. The town is nestled in the scenic Hida Mountains, offering breathtaking views of nature in combination with its relaxing hot springs.

Gero Onsen is known for its high-quality hot spring water, rich in mineral content and renowned for its therapeutic properties. The waters are believed to benefit various ailments such as muscle pain, joint stiffness, and fatigue. Visitors can indulge in the healing waters in a variety of baths, including indoor communal baths, outdoor baths with stunning mountain views, and private baths in ryokans.

This onsen town offers a tranquil setting, surrounded by mountains and rivers. Unwind in the outdoor baths while enjoying the beautiful scenery. Don’t forget to explore the Hida Great Onsen Village for a wide selection of hot springs and traditional inns.

Zao (Yamagata)

Zao Yamagata

Zao, located in Yamagata Prefecture, is a beautiful and scenic town known for its hot springs and stunning natural landscapes. Nestled in the Zao Mountains, the area is famous for its picturesque ski slopes and majestic snow monsters in the winter. With its tranquil atmosphere and many hot springs, Zao is an ideal destination for those seeking relaxation and rejuvenation.

One of the main attractions in Zao is the Zao Onsen, a collection of hot springs that have been enjoyed for centuries. The popular onsen in Zao is rich in minerals and known for its therapeutic benefits. Visitors can soak in the soothing waters while surrounded by the breathtaking mountain views and lush forests, offering a unique and serene bathing experience.

Zao Onsen is a picturesque hot spring town famous for its stunning snow monsters and natural beauty. Ski and snowboard enthusiasts flock here during the winter season, as Zao Onsen transforms into a winter wonderland. After a day on the slopes, relax in the hot springs that offer incredible views of the snow-covered landscape.

Arima (Hyogo)

Arima Hyogo
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Arima, located in Hyogo Prefecture, is a historic and enchanting hot spring town known for its healing waters and traditional charm. With a history dating back over a thousand years, Arima Onsen is one of Japan’s oldest hot spring resorts and is highly regarded for its mineral-rich thermal waters. The town’s serene atmosphere, beautiful surroundings, and therapeutic hot springs make it a popular destination for relaxation and rejuvenation.

This Japanese Onsen is known for its two distinct types of hot spring water: “gold” and “silver.” The “gold” hot spring is rich in iron and salt, while the “silver” hot spring contains radium and carbonate. These mineral properties are believed to offer various health benefits, including relief from muscle aches, joint pain, and skin conditions. Visitors can experience the healing properties of these unique hot springs while immersing themselves in the traditional Japanese bathing culture.

In addition to its hot springs, Arima is famous for its charming streets lined with traditional-style buildings and shops. Visitors can stroll through the town’s narrow lanes, explore the historic footpaths, and discover local crafts and souvenirs. The popular onsen town also hosts traditional cultural events throughout the year, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the rich heritage and traditions of Arima.

Ginzan Onsen (Yamagata)

Ginzan Yamagata

Ginzan, located in Yamagata Prefecture, is a charming and picturesque village renowned for its beautiful hot springs, making it a perfect destination for those seeking relaxation and tranquility. The hot spring village is characterized by its traditional wooden ryokans and nostalgic atmosphere, evoking the charm of old Japan. Ginzan’s main attraction is the enchanting Ginzan River, which meanders through the town and is lined with rustic buildings that house the various hot spring baths.

The hot springs of Ginzan are believed to have therapeutic properties, with their mineral-rich waters known for relieving muscle pain, promoting circulation, and providing a sense of relaxation. Visitors can enjoy soaking in these rejuvenating hot springs while taking in the serene surroundings and scenery of the village. 

Whether it’s soaking in the healing hot springs, immersing oneself in the nostalgic ambiance of the village, or experiencing the enchantment of winter, Ginzan provides a serene and memorable retreat for visitors seeking relaxation, rejuvenation, and a unique taste of Japan’s hot spring culture.

Nyuto (Akita)

Nyuto Akita
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Nyuto, located in Akita Prefecture, is a hidden gem famous for its secluded and rustic hot spring retreats. The region is blessed with abundant natural beauty, including dense forests and mountain ranges, making it an ideal destination for those seeking a peaceful and rejuvenating experience. Nyuto is known for its remarkable hot spring ryokans, each offering its own unique bathing experience surrounded by tranquil landscapes.

The hot springs of Nyuto are known for their milky-white waters, rich in minerals, and renowned for their therapeutic benefits. The onsen ryokans in Nyuto frequently offer various types of hot springs, including open-air baths and gender-segregated baths, allowing visitors to experience different bathing traditions and settings. The secluded nature of these ryokans adds to the overall serenity and sense of relaxation.

One of the highlights of Nyuto is Tsurunoyu Onsen, one of Japan’s oldest and most remote hot springs. The traditional onsen has a history of over 300 years and offers a unique hot spring experience with its “mixed bathing” option, allowing men and women to bath together in beautiful rustic surroundings. The ryokan also boasts magnificent scenic views and a peaceful ambiance that further enhances the bathing experience.

Dogo Onsen (Ehime)

Dogo Ehime
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Dogo Matsuyama, located in Ehime Prefecture, is a historic and culturally rich destination famous for its ancient hot spring baths. As one of the oldest hot spring towns in Japan, the public hot spring has been a popular destination for over a thousand years. The centerpiece of the town is the iconic Dogo Onsen Honkan, a stunning bathhouse believed to be the inspiration for the renowned Studio Ghibli film, “Spirited Away.”

Dogo Onsen Honkan is a national treasure and a must-visit attraction for hot spring enthusiasts. The bathhouse’s elegant wooden structure and traditional architecture exude a sense of grandeur and history. Inside, visitors can soak in the revitalizing hot spring waters known for their therapeutic properties. The Dogo Onsen experience is enhanced by the unique communal atmosphere and the chance to wear traditional yukata robes while enjoying the baths.

Admire the beautiful wooden architecture of Dogo Onsen Honkan, and be sure to visit the traditional hot spring, which has separate bathing areas for men and women.

Beppu (Oita)

Beppu Oita

Beppu, located in Oita Prefecture, is a renowned hot spring destination known for its diverse range of hot springs and unique bathing experiences. With over 2,800 hot spring sources, Beppu is often referred to as the “Hot Springs Capital” of Japan. The town offers a multitude of hot spring options, from traditional onsen baths to unusual attractions like mud baths and sand baths.

One of the highlights of Beppu is the “Hells of Beppu,” a collection of vibrant and geothermal hot spring attractions. Each hell has its own distinct characteristics, such as boiling water, colorful mineral-rich pools, and even an area with crocodiles. While visitors cannot bathe in these hells, they offer a fascinating and otherworldly experience that showcases the raw power and beauty of nature’s hot springs.

Beppu is famous for its “Beppu Onsen Eight Hells,” a group of hot spring bathhouses that showcase various types of hot spring baths, including indoor, outdoor, and steam baths. These bathhouses provide an opportunity for visitors to immerse themselves in the healing properties and soothing ambiance of Beppu’s hot springs.

Yufuin (Oita)

Yufuin Oita

Yufuin, located in Oita Prefecture, is a charming and tranquil town known for its serene hot springs and breathtaking natural surroundings. Nestled at the base of Mount Yufu, the town offers a picturesque setting with stunning views of the mountains, fields, and Lake Kinrinko. Yufuin’s hot springs provide a rejuvenating escape for visitors, offering a peaceful and therapeutic experience amidst the beauty of nature.

Yufuin, which is one of the best hot spring towns to visit, is home to a variety of traditional ryokans and upscale resorts, each offering its own private hot spring baths known as “rotenburo.”

These open-air baths allow guests to immerse themselves in the mineral-rich hot spring waters while enjoying the picturesque landscapes that surround them. The tranquility and serenity of these baths create an ideal environment for relaxation and reflection.

Kurokawa (Kumamoto)

Kurokawa Kumamoto
Credit: IG @kurokawaonsen

Kurokawa Onsen, located in Kumamoto Prefecture, is a charming and secluded hot spring town known for its traditional atmosphere and serene natural surroundings. Nestled in the mountains, Kurokawa offers a peaceful escape from the bustling city life, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the healing waters of its hot springs while surrounded by lush greenery and tranquil streams.

Kurokawa is home to a collection of rustic and traditional ryokans, many of which offer open-air baths that allow guests to soak in the hot spring waters while enjoying the beauty of nature. The town’s hot springs feature high-quality, mineral-rich waters said to have various health benefits. Visitors can enjoy the therapeutic properties of these hot springs, which are known for their skin rejuvenation and relaxation effects.

Kurokawa Onsen is a hidden gem embraced by nature. Known for its charming and rustic atmosphere, Kurokawa Onsen offers a variety of ryokans and outdoor hot springs set amid picturesque landscapes. Experience the unique “rotten-egg” hot spring waters, renowned for their healing properties.

Takayama (Gifu)

Takayama Gifu

Nestled in the heart of the Japanese Alps, Takayama is a delightful city known for its well-preserved Edo period streets and traditional houses. While not solely an onsen town, Takayama offers several hot spring options, both indoor and outdoor. Appreciate the intricate architecture, visit the historic Takayama Jinya, and soak in the hot springs for a relaxing getaway.

The city is home to several hot spring resorts and ryokans that provide a serene and authentic bathing experience. These establishments offer indoor and outdoor baths where visitors can soak in the therapeutic hot spring waters while surrounded by the tranquil beauty of Takayama’s natural landscapes. 

The hot springs in Takayama are known for their mineral-rich waters, which are believed to have various health benefits.

Hakodate Yunokawa (Hokkaido)

Hakodate Yunokawa
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Hakodate Yunokawa, located in Hokkaido, is a popular hot spring destination known for its abundant natural beauty and relaxing hot spring baths. Situated along the coast, the town offers a unique experience of soaking in hot springs while enjoying the picturesque views of the Sea of Japan. Hakodate Yunokawa is a haven for those seeking a serene and rejuvenating hot spring retreat.

Hakodate Yunokawa Onsen is a coastal hot spring town known for its long history and beautiful scenery. This onsen area offers a mix of traditional and modern ryokans with a range of hot spring baths. Wander along the sandy beach, visit the nearby Hakodate attractions, and unwind in the soothing hot springs.

Visitors can choose from a variety of bathing options, including indoor and outdoor baths, private baths, and even foot baths. Surrounded by beautiful gardens and tranquil settings, these hot spring facilities offer a peaceful and serene environment for relaxation and rejuvenation.

 Atami (Shizuoka)

Atami Shizuoka
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Atami, located in Shizuoka Prefecture, is a renowned hot spring resort town known for its healing waters and stunning coastal views. With its close proximity to Tokyo, Atami is a popular getaway destination for both locals and tourists seeking relaxation and rejuvenation in natural hot springs.

Atami is home to a wide range of hot spring accommodations, offering a variety of bathing experiences. From luxury ryokans to modern resorts, visitors can choose from indoor and outdoor baths, private baths, and even open-air baths overlooking the mesmerizing sea. 

The hot spring waters in Atami are rich in minerals, believed to have therapeutic properties that help with various ailments and promote overall well-being.

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