Onsen (hot spring) is no longer a foreign term. It surely feels different when you are immersed in an authentic, natural onsen in Japan with beautiful sceneries. Japan has thousands of onsen scattered in the country as it is located in volcanic areas. There are many different types of onsen, and one of the most popular types is the “Rotenburo” (露天風呂) which means outdoor onsen.
Japan has stunning nature sceneries all year round, so you can enjoy varying views during different seasons. Unlike the “indoor hot baths”, natural onsen has numerous health benefits as there are various minerals including calcium and sodium bicarbonate in the onsen water.
Tsuchiyu Onsen town is located in the northern part of Fukushima Prefecture. There is one traditional public bath Nakanoyu, with loads of natural minerals which are good for health and beloved by many locals. For those who prefer a nice and cosy foot bath to soothe your tired feet, there are three free foot baths available in the area: Kibokko-no-yu at the entrance of aforementioned Nakanoyu, Tsuchiyukko and Kajika-no-yu nearby.
Tsuchiyukko footbath is just two minutes from Tsuchiyu Onsen Tourism Association by foot, located right inside of the Higashi Karasugawa Shinsui Koen Park. You can enjoy the bath while admiring at all the calming greeneries in the park.
Kibokko-no-yu footbath is located on the premises of Nakanoyu. Both your body and soul will feel relaxed when soaking your feet while listening to the streams of Arakawa River.
Kajika-no-yu footbath is located at the foot of Arakawa-O-Hashi Bridge.
The 1.8-metre-tall Kokeshi Dolls (traditional Japanese wooden dolls) on each side of the bath provide you with the unique footbath experience.
Besides the relaxing hot springs and footbaths, Tsuchiyu Onsen town also offers a wide range of other activities for those who do not like hot baths as much. Also known as one of the villages renowned for Kokeshi dolls in Japan, you can get your hands on to create your very own cute Kokeshi dolls by joining a Kokeshi-painting workshop at Matsuya Products Shop.
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If you happen to visit Yamagata Prefecture, make sure to visit arguably one of the most beautiful onsens in winter – the Ginzan Onsen (銀山温泉).This hidden gem is located in the beautiful mountains of Yamagata Prefecture. This area was originally developed due to the then booming production of silver from the mine in the vicinity. As time passed, this area became more well-known as an historical onsen town. If you love historical buildings, you will also fall in love with the private onsen ryokans (hot spring inns) along the river. These 3-storey or 4-storey buildings are generally made of wood, giving off the nostalgic feel. The most popular season for Ginzan Onsen is in winter when the entire town is covered in white.
There are two public baths and one foot bath located at the centre of the town. There are also private onsens located in onsen ryokans where you can enjoy your onsen with spectacular mountain views!
In addition to the onsens, another famous site that you cannot miss is the amazing 22-metre-tall Shiragane Waterfall located at the back of the town. Not far from the waterfall, there is the historical silver mine. The mine was founded over 500 years ago in 1456. Visitors can enter the tunnel for free and enjoy a walk for about 30 minutes. If you are a hiking enthusiast, you can definitely follow the nature trail up to the valley to enjoy the beautiful sceneries. However, the silver mine and trail will be closed when it snows hard (generally closed from mid-November to late April).
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If you are a real onsen enthusiast and looking to try out a wide variety of onsen, Hanamaki Onsen Village is where you should go. This onsen village has over ten hot spring sources over the mountain range. You can choose to have your onsen experience at various spots of the village; from large and comfortable spas in hotels to private and boutique onsen pools in Japanese-style inns. Each of them has their unique characteristics. You can experience interesting baths such as Rotenburo (outdoor onsen) by the river or even a unique, deep onsen in which you will have to stand inside. Please remember to be careful of the depth.
One of the most famous onsens is their Shirozaru-no-yu (literally means “White Monkey Bath”). The bath is 1.25-metre deep which makes it the deepest natural onsen in Japan. You can soak your entire body in its natural spring water and there are even water jets which massage your sore muscles after your long journeys and help you with blood circulation.
Hanamaki Onsen is also famous for its Hanamaki Sports Land where many people will travel to Iwate during winter not only for the hot spring, but also enjoywinter sports with their family and friends.During summer, you can enjoy many outdoor facilities and activities along the bank of Kitakami river such as canoeing and boating. The snowmobiling during winter is not to be missed!
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