Take full advantage of Japan’s beautiful fall and winter weather by experiencing their hot springs or onsen. But while you can technically go to a hot spring in just about any country, trust the Japanese to come of with the craziest, most novelty ones. KKday rounds up some of the most interesting onsens on this side of the East.
1. Hakone Kowakien
The Kowakien Spais a unique spa in Japan that allows you to request for a different hot spring for each time you’re there. Ask for the wine bath when at t and feel fancy shmancy, even for just a day. If your timing is right, you might be able to catch the Wine Show, where a spa worker showcases their prized “Hokien wine;” and spray it on everyone in the hot spring. Sometimes they’ll even pour it on your head.
Health and skincare junkies may also consider the tea or coffee spas for a super boost in antioxidants. And if you feel like indulging your sweet tooth? Off to the chocolate spa!
Or do you just want to try a traditional salt water bath? Kowakien’s Dead Sea Bath is patterned after the actual Dead Sea. Just remember to stay hydrated—but not by drinking the bath!
2. Ginzan Onsen
Fans of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli are no stranger to this particular onsen.
Ginzan Onsen, which means ‘silver mountain hot spring,’ is a quaint little onsen town located along the Ginzan River. The town draws its name from a silver mine that was discovered 500 years ago, and looks as if time has stopped until then.
Let yourself be spirited away as you stroll through the town and awed by the architecture featuring a graceful line of three and four-storey wooden inns. On both sides of Ginzan River. It feels so much like olden Japan, you’ll half-expect to see samurais by the corner or ninjas climbing on the rooftops. If you’re interested in seeing more of Miyazaki’s magic, be sure to check out the Studio Ghibli Museum in Tokyo.
3. Tsurunoyu Onsen
Now, if you like to call yourself an old soul, you’ll go just adore the Tsurunoyu Onsen. Seated deep within the mountains of the Akita prefacture, this is one of Japan‘s most traditional and rustic hot spring bath — a fantastic escape if you’re looking to get off the grid and decompress from the busy city life.
Tsurunoyu Onsen is particularly known for it’s massive milk-like water springs that offer various healing properties such as lowering blood pressure and antiaging. Skip that 10-step skincare routine and go au natural by soaking up all the antioxidants in this spring. You’ll leave refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to take on those deadlines.
4. Shibu Onsen
Another traditional onsen for old souls! If you liked the ancient and historical vibe of Ginzan Onsen and natural peace and quiet of Nyuto Onsen—or maybe you just can’t find the time to visit both—then don’t miss the chance to visit Shibu Onsen.
Given its extensive history spanning over 1300 years, Shibu Onsen has seen many customers come and go, including famous priests, samurai, and poets. Rumour has it that good fortune comes to those who visit all nine bathhouse in Shibu Onsen. Rack up some good karma and satisfy your curiosity needs in one go!
Visitors are strongly encouraged to roam the area with in their traditional yukata robes and geta sandals. Don’t be alarmed if you suddenly find yourself bathing next to your much hairier distant cousins; Monkeys from the neighbouring forest often drop by for a quick dip. If you don’t get to see them, don’t worry; the monkeys have their own bath in the nearby Jigokudani Monkey Park.
If you’re planning a visit to any onsen, give yourself a lot of time; you don’t want to just cram this in between your tours. The Japanese treat their onsen sessions seriously as a spiritual purification process. The best way to leave feeling cleansed all around? Turn off the gadgets and just sit back and relax.
You can check out other interesting onsens which are just a day trip away when you book on the KKday website: