After soaking in the relaxing hot spring (onsen 温泉), we cannot miss the little pleasure of wearing the Japanese bath wear (yukata 浴衣), walking around the hot spring streets and enjoying the townscape. That’s why apart from taking into account the quality of the hot spring water, Japanese people prefer the hot spring towns where communal baths (outside baths), foot baths and shops are fulfilling.
Below is the selected top 10 hot spring towns for promenade according Nikkei Style. ⤴︎ ε=ε=(ง ˃̶͈̀ᗨ˂̶͈́)۶ ⤴︎
Kinosaki Onsen 城崎温泉 – the riverside town at the coast of the Japan Sea
Toyooka-shi, Hyōgo Prefecture 兵庫県豊岡市
Kinosaki Onsen is located north of Hyogo Prefecture (兵庫県) and northwest of Kyoto (京都) at the coast of the Japan Sea. The hot spring town is built alongside a river which makes up the spectaculous townscape. There are 7 communal outside baths in the area, but you can also found a onsen ryokan (hot spring hotel) with a gorgeous view of the Japan Sea.
If you like crabs, you will not want to miss the famous Matsuba Crab (松葉ガニ) there during the high season each year from November to March, which are harvested straight from the sea.
Shibu Onsen 渋温泉 – the nine public bath houses & the snow monkeys
Yamanouchi-cho, Nagano Prefecture 長野県山ノ内町
There are nine public bath houses in the area which are built for the locals and also for the visitors who are staying in certain onsen ryokan (hot spring hotels). The onsen water in each of the nine hot springs has different health benefits. It is believed that bathing in all nine bath houses will bring good fortune.
If you are a fan of Hayao Miyasaki (宮崎 駿), you must visit the four-storey bathhouse Kanaguya (金具屋) in the town which is one of the references of the bath house in ‘Spirited Away’ (千と千尋の神隠し).
The not-to-miss part is the cute snow monkeys in the Jigokudani Yaen-Kōen (地獄谷 野猿公苑) which is located 2.5km from Shibu Onsen, where the snow monkeys indulge themselves inside the hot spring baths.
Kusatsu Onsen 草津温泉 – no. 1 hot spring in Japan & its massive hot water field
Kusatsu-machi, Gunma Prefecture 群馬県草津町
Kusatsu onsen has been rated no. 1 within the “100 selected hot springs in Japan” (日本溫泉100選) for 14 consecutive years. It is also one of the three most famous hot spring in Japan (日本三名泉). It is famous for its big water field (yubatake湯畑), as well as the traditional bathing methods time-limit bath (jikanyu 時間湯) and water beating (yumomi 湯もみ) which have been passed down since the edo period (江戸時代).
There are many free communal baths and foot baths all around the town and three pay-per-use baths. One of the three baths – Sainokawara (西の河原露天風呂) offers an open outdoor bath which is totally embraced by the nature.
Dōgo Onsen 道後温泉 – its impressive building & the Matsuyama Castle
Dogo Onsen is one of the three oldest hot spring in Japan (日本三古泉) and has 3000 years of history. Few Imperial members used to bath in this bathhouse in the 19th century.
Just as Kanaguya (金具屋) in Shibu Onsen (渋温泉), the main building of Dogo Onsen is one of the reference spot of the bathhouse in ‘Spirited Away’ (千と千尋の神隠し). There is a hot spring walking street in the onsen area which is indoor and more industrialised. As Dogo Onsen is in Matsuyama city, you can take the local tram and Botchan Ressha (坊っちゃん列車) to move around and visit the Matsuyama Castle (松山城).
Important! Dogo Onsen will start refurbishing from spring 2017 and the refurbishment is expected to take 5-7 years to finish.
Arima Onsen 有馬温泉 – the rivers & the Edo-style street
Arima Onsen is one of the three oldest hot springs (日本三古泉) and is also one of the three most famous hot springs in Japan (日本三名泉). It is located 20km away from Kobe. Kinnoyu (金の湯) and Ginnoyu (銀の湯) are the two most famous bathhouses there. But if want to stay longer in a bathhouse to relax youself, Taikounoyu (太閤の湯) is a theme-park-like bathhouse which offers more choses of different baths, aswell as restaurants.
The Arima Onsen area is not big. After a bath, you can walk along the Yumotozaka （湯本坂）which is the main street full of edo-style buildings in Arima. The shops are mainly distributed along two rivers: Rokkokawa (六甲川) and Takigawa (瀧川). Fireflies used to wander around the rivers during the summer season.
Beppu Onsen 別府温泉
Beppu-shi, Ōita Prefecture 大分県別府市
Ginzan Onsen 銀山温泉
Ozawa-shi, Yamagata Prefecture 山形県尾花沢市
Ikaho Onsen 伊香保温泉
Shibukawa-shi, Gunma Prefecture 群馬県渋川市
Nozawa Onsen 野沢温泉
Nozawaonsen-mura, Nagano Prefecture 長野県野沢温泉村
Yamashiro Onsen 山代温泉
Kaga-shi, Ishikawa prefecture 石川県加賀市