Thanks to the plentiful volcanic activity in the country, Japan has a very active geological landscape, with thousands of hot springs, or onsen, across the country. For many visitors, taking a trip to a hot spring provides an opportunity for an authentic local Japanese experience.
In the Edo period, hot springs were commonly known and used to cure injuries and diseases. Due to this discovery, many people began to stay at hot springs for longer periods until they felt rejuvenated. This booming era helped make them a popular holiday getaway. Now you can stay at hot spring resorts known as Onsen Ryokan and dedicate an entire weekend to relaxation and rejuvenation in one place. At onsen ryokan, you can find a selection of traditional and modern Japanese food, such as sashimi, soba noodles, kaiseki cuisine, and more.
Imagine, after a full day of travel, enjoying a hot bath while surrounded by snow, overlooking a beautiful mountain, or with an ocean view. If you’ve ever experienced an onsen, you can feel it now. If you’ve never experienced it, you can only imagine its tranquility.
When planning an onsen visit, be aware that almost all are birthday suits only! That means no bathing suits. For those who prefer a more intimate experience, there are many traditional inns where the guest rooms have private baths attached.
There are many onsen destinations in Japan, but here are two well-known onsen destinations.
One of Japan’s most famous resorts, Kusatsu Onsen is blessed with large volumes of high-quality hot spring water. This onsen’s fame came from the influence of German doctor, Erwin von Baelz, who recommended Kusatsu for the benefits found within its water. Kusatsu is located in the mountains of Gunma Prefecture and offers skiing during the winter and hiking throughout the year.
Most famous for producing more hot spring water than any other resort in the country, Beppu, in Oita Prefecture, is a small seaside resort town surrounded by mountains, and a ten-minute walk to the beach. Beppu offers a range of baths from your ordinary hot spring selection to mud baths, sand baths, and even steam baths. Beppu is a great place to relax during your trip to Japan. There are about 2,909 hot springs in the city, and each holds its own unique feature for the curious traveler.