Explore 15 Best Onsen And Onsen Towns In Japan

Explore 15 Best Onsen And Onsen Towns In Japan

Visiting Japan? Make sure to check out an onsen! An onsen is a natural hot spring, warmed up by the earth's own heat, and often, there's a whole relaxing vibe at the resorts built around them.

With about 2,300 onsens all over Japan, often part of ryokans (traditional inns), you're never far from a warm, soothing bath. Here's a list of 15 top onsens you'll absolutely love, no matter where you are in Japan. They're perfect for unwinding and feeling the warmth of Japan's welcoming spirit.

Kusatsu Onsen

Kusatsu Onsen is famous for being one of the best onsen in Japan. It gets a huge amount of hot water that lessens the intensity of its mineral-rich waters, said to heal all ailments except heartbreak. The water here is so hot that locals use a unique cooling method called yumomi, which they perform for visitors to see.

The most loved public bath, Sai no Kawara Rotenburo, is in Sai no Kawara Park and offers beautiful views of the surrounding forest and crystal-clear, steaming waters. While you're there, grab some Yu no Hana hot spring powder to bring the magic of Kusatsu’s healing waters back home.

Looking for more fun? Mt. Shirane has lovely hiking paths to enjoy in spring and summer. In winter, it's a haven for skiers with Kusatsu Snow & Spa Resort open from early December to mid-April.


Kusatsu Onsen


How To Get There?

Getting to Kusatsu Onsen is an adventure in itself! On weekends, hop on the Kusatsu limited-express train from Ueno Station; it's a 2.5-hour ride to Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi Station.

If you're traveling on a weekday, you can take the Shinkansen or Takasaki line to Takasaki Station, switch to the Agatsuma line, and then continue your journey.

Once you get off at Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi, a 25-minute bus ride will take you straight to the Kusatsu Onsen bus terminal. And just like that, you're ready to soak in the beauty and warmth of one of Japan's most beloved hot springs!

Ginzan Onsen

Ginzan Onsen is a magical place straight out of a Japanese fairy tale. Lined with traditional wooden buildings along the Ginzan River, the area comes alive at night with the gentle sounds of flowing water and the warm glow of gas lamps.

Winter transforms Ginzan Onsen into a snowy wonderland, making it the best time to visit. Imagine soaking in hot springs outdoors, with the cool air brushing your face and shoulders-a truly refreshing contrast. Due to its popularity for winter baths, it's wise to book your visit up to three months ahead.

While Ginzan Onsen itself is all about the soothing views, if you're up for more sightseeing, head over to the nearby Zao Onsen area in Yamagata. During winter, it's adorned with incredible snow sculptures, adding to your winter adventure.


Ginzan Onsen Town


How To Get There?

You can reach Ginzan Onsen easily from Tokyo by taking on the Yamagata Shinkansen at Tokyo Station and enjoying the ride to Oishida Station, which takes about 3.5 hours. From there, a 40-minute bus ride will take you directly to the Ginzan Onsen bus stop. It's a straightforward journey to a place that feels like a step back in time!

Arima Onsen

Nestled close to Kobe, Arima Onsen is not just a hot spring, it's a slice of Japan's rich spiritual and natural beauty. It's perfect for a day trip or a cozy weekend away.

Arima Onsen is known for its unique hot springs, including the 'kinsen' or 'golden water,' which is actually gold-colored due to its high iron content. Despite looking a bit rusty, this water is cherished for its health benefits like easing muscle pain and improving skin health.

Then there's the 'ginsen' or 'silver water,' which is rich in radium and carbonate, and known to help with muscle and joint aches. A soak here can be the perfect remedy for soreness.


Arima Onsen Town


How To Get There?

You can catch a Hankyu Bus or JR Bus from Hankyu Umeda Station or JR Osaka Station to Arima Onsen.

The ride takes about an hour from Umeda and 50 minutes from Shin-Osaka. Although JR buses are currently not running, Hankyu buses still operate about once an hour, making it easy to get to this relaxing retreat.

Hakone Onsen

Hakone is a treasure among Japan's onsen towns, celebrated for its diverse offerings. Whether you're into family-friendly spa parks or seeking a more luxurious escape with private wooden baths, Hakone has it all for a top-tier hot spring adventure.

The Yunessun Spa Resort is a standout, boasting unique attractions like coffee and wine baths, hot spring slides, and cave pools. It's great for groups because it offers co-ed baths where swimsuits are required, allowing you to stay together with your friends or family.

For a quieter experience, visit Hakone Yuryo, tucked away in a lush forest setting. This serene spot offers both communal and private onsen options, with 19 secluded rooms available for those who prefer a private, open-air bath.


Hakone Yuryo


Traveling to Hakone Onsen

A trip from Shinjuku Station to Hakone-Yumoto Station on the Odakyu Romance Car takes just about 90 minutes.

If you're planning to stay overnight, consider the Hakone "Freepass." It's a fantastic deal that includes your round-trip travel and gives you unlimited access to local transportation like trains, buses, ropeways, and boats, enhancing your exploration of the area.

Kinosaki Onsen

Kinosaki Onsen, recognized by Lonely Planet as the "best hot spring town," is a picturesque setting with willow-lined rivers, traditional ryokan, and charming old arcades. It's also close to a sanctuary dedicated to the endangered oriental stork.

Navigating onsen culture as a non-Japanese speaker can sometimes feel daunting, but Kinosaki Onsen makes it welcoming for all. Here, you can wander around in colorful rented yukata and enjoy all seven natural hot springs, which are tattoo-friendly. The town provides English maps complete with stamp spaces to mark your visits, making exploration fun and easy.

Kinosaki is far from just a tourist spot; it's about genuine inclusion. You can also engage in activities like zazen meditation, tea picking, and more, with English-speaking guides to enhance your experience.


Kinosaki Onsen Town


How to Reach Kinosaki Onsen

You can get to Kinosaki Onsen by taking a two-and-a-half-hour limited express train from Kyoto, or a three-hour train ride from Osaka. It's a straightforward trip to a welcoming and culturally rich destination.

Kurokawa Onsen

Kurokawa Onsen, set in the heart of Kyushu, is famed as one of Japan's most beautiful hot spring towns. Here, visitors can choose from nearly 30 onsen baths, hopping from one to another with a unique wooden tegata pass, which grants access to any three baths you choose.

This town has a rich history dating back over 300 years, once a resting place for feudal lords on their travels. Today, Kurokawa Onsen retains its captivating old-world atmosphere, with traditional shops and ryokans along the riverbank, illuminated each evening by softly glowing lanterns.


Kurokawa Onsen


How To Get There?

Reaching Kurokawa Onsen involves a scenic two-and-a-half-hour bus ride from Fukuoka Airport, as there are no direct train services. The journey itself is a great way to ease into the tranquil vibe of this historic hot spring town.

Atami's Onsen

Right near Tokyo, the coastal city of Atami is famed more for its onsen than its beaches. According to legend, Tokugawa Ieyasu, one of Japan's most famous shoguns, adored the onsen waters here so much that he had them transported to his castle in Edo (now Tokyo) for his personal use.

The onsen waters in Atami, enriched with sea salt, are believed to be excellent for soothing skin irritations. Its close distance to Tokyo also makes Atami a perfect destination for a quick getaway. Don't forget to grab some onsen manju, a local specialty sweet bean snack, before heading home.


Atami Onsen


How To Travel To Atami's Onsen?

From Tokyo Station, it's a quick 45-minute ride on the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen, heading towards Nagoya. Just four stops later, you'll find yourself at Atami Station, ready to enjoy this charming seaside city.

How to Get There?

A quick journey from Tokyo will get you to Atami in no time. Just board the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen at Tokyo Station, bound for Nagoya, and within 45 minutes over four stops, you'll arrive at Atami Station. Ready to soak up the beauty and relaxation Atami has to offer?

Nozawa Onsen

Nozawa Onsen is a dream destination in winter, perfect for those who love skiing or snowboarding down powdery slopes and then relaxing in a hot spring. After a day on the slopes, what could be better than soaking in one of the town's many communal hot springs?

The town boasts 13 communal hot springs, known locally as soto-yu. These are open to all visitors free of charge and don't require any special passes. Although they are modest in size, each bath has its own charm with beautiful wooden architecture that might remind you of scenes from Ghibli's ‘Spirited Away’.


Nozawa Onsen


How To Reach There?

Starting from Tokyo Station, take the Hokuriku Shinkansen to Kanazawa, a journey of about two hours to Iiyama Station. From there, catch a bus directly to Nozawa Onsen. It's a seamless trip that leads you straight to winter fun and relaxation.

Dogo Onsen

Dogo Onsen, located on Shikoku Island, holds the title of Japan's oldest hot spring, with a rich history spanning 3,000 years. Its main attraction is the Honkan, a majestic, castle-like bathhouse that influenced scenes in Studio Ghibli's film Spirited Away. Surrounding the bathhouse are numerous ryokan, offering traditional Japanese hospitality.


Bath House of Dogo Onsen


How To Get There?

Start from Tokyo by taking the JR Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen to Okayama. From there, switch to the JR Shiokaze limited express that heads to Matsuyama. Once you arrive, it's just a four-minute walk to the Dogo Onsen Honkan.

Fuji Kawaguchiko Onsen

Nestled at the base of Mount Fuji, Lake Kawaguchi serves as a picturesque backdrop for numerous bathhouses and ryokan.

While the view of Mount Fuji might be occasionally hidden by buildings or clouds, the area is exceptionally beautiful during the spring cherry blossom season and the autumn leaf viewing period.


Fuji Kawaguchiko Onsen


How To Get There?

From Shinjuku Station in Tokyo, take the JR Chuo Line to Otsuki Station. Then, continue on the Fujikyu Railway to Kawaguchiko Station. Alternatively, direct bus services are available from Tokyo to this serene destination.

Noboribetsu Onsen

Noboribetsu Onsen, renowned as Hokkaido's premier hot spring resort, offers waters rich in sulfur and hydrogen sulfide, known for their skin-soothing and lightening properties, along with iron which helps reduce fatigue.

The mineral-rich waters dramatically color the landscape, earning the area the nickname "Hell Valley."


Hell Valley of Noboribetsu Onsen


How To Get There?

Travel from Tokyo on the JR Tohoku/Hokkaido Shinkansen to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto. From there, catch the Hokuto Limited Express train to Noboribetsu Station.

Beppu Onsen

Beppu is unique with its cluster of eight different onsen areas, offering a variety of natural spa experiences from mud and steam baths to the exotic sand baths. When visiting, don't miss the chance to relax in the Beppu Beach Sand Bath at Shoningahama Beach, where you’re gently covered in warm, volcanically heated sand.

For a bit of adventure, take the 'Hell Tour,' a journey through eight of Beppu's most intense onsens, known as 'jigoku' or 'burning hells.' Keep an eye out for the heat-loving crocodiles at Oniyama Jigoku.


Beppu Onsen


How to Get to Beppu Onsen?
  •   By Air: Fly from Haneda Airport to Oita Airport, a journey of about 1 hour and 40 minutes. From there, a 45-minute bus ride will get you to Beppu Kitahama bus stop.      
  •   By Train: Take a five-hour shinkansen ride from Tokyo Station using the Nozomi to Kokura Station, then transfer to the Sonic limited express to Beppu Station. Opting for Hikari and Sakura trains adds an extra hour and requires an additional transfer at Shin-Osaka Station.

Ibusuki Onsen

Nestled in the southern tip of Kyushu, Ibusuki is celebrated for its unique Sunamushi, or sand baths. The Saraku Sand Bath Hall is a popular outdoor spot where you can be buried in naturally steam-heated sand, though many local ryokan offer similar experiences.


Ibusuki Onsen


How To Get There?

Catch a 50-minute limited express train from Kagoshima-Chuo Station to Ibusuki Station. From there, a direct bus will take you straight to the onsen.

Yumoto Onsen

Steam rising from underground vents, making the air and water smell like stinky sulfur, Yumoto Onsen is a part of Nikko National Park and just next to Lake Yunoko. However, the water in Yumoto Onsen is rich in minerals that can make the skin sting.

The whole area is dotted with ryokans that feature hot springs, and to the north of town you'll find the Yunodeira Marsh, where the hot water actually bubbles up from the ground. On the way to Yumoto Onsen, it's worth stopping at Ryuzu Waterfall to hike along the fantastic Senjogahara.


Clear bubbling hot spring in Yumoto Onsen


How To Get There?

It takes about two hours to get to Tobu Nikko Station by express train from Tobu Asakusa Station. You'd better take an earlier bus, as Yumoto Onsen is an 80-minute bus ride from Tobu Nikko Station (ask the tourist office at the station for details). Purchase a Nikko Pass All Area at Tobu Asakusa Station and get a discount.

Jozankei Onsen

Jozankei Onsen, established in 1866, is a beloved hot spring resort tucked away in a scenic valley. Whether you're staying overnight at one of the cozy inns or just visiting for the day, you'll find plenty of hot springs to enjoy, including soothing foot baths.

The area is especially captivating in autumn when the leaves turn brilliant crimson, creating a stunning visual feast. In winter, the town transforms into a luminous wonderland with snow candles lighting up the nights. Don't miss the magical yukitoro or snow lanterns, an annual event that adds a touch of fantasy to the frosty air.


Jozankei Onsen


How to Get There?

To get to Jozankei Onsen from Sapporo, you have a couple of options:

  • From Sapporo Station Bus Terminal, take the Jotetsu Bus number 7 or 8. The buses leave about every hour and the journey takes 75 minutes.
  • Alternatively, from Makomanai Station at the end of Sapporo's Namboku Subway Line, take Jotetsu Bus number 12. This ride takes about 50 minutes, with buses running every 30 to 60 minutes.  


With so many onsens to choose from, deciding on just one might be tough! If you need help planning your journey to Japan's top hot springs, just reach out and we’ll assist you in making it an unforgettable experience.