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Elena Boils / © Culture Trip
Elena Boils / © Culture Trip
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Japanese Hot Springs: The Most Beautiful Onsen in Japan

Picture of Dave Afshar
Updated: 17 April 2018
The Japanese have enjoyed bathing in the island’s natural hot springs for centuries; in fact, before conventional medicine, it was believed that a visit to the local onsen could cure just about any injury or ailment. Nowadays, locals and travelers alike head to the hot springs to rest, recharge and socialize. Find out more about Japan’s most scenic and luxurious onsen below.

Hida-Takayama Onsen

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By Balou46 (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Balou46 (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Located in a castle town, this is the perfect trip for travelers looking to escape the hustle and bustle of modern Japan. The streets and neighborhoods of Hida-Takayama have maintained their “Old Japan” feel, but don’t let that scare you away if you don’t speak Japanese. The recent boom in tourism has led to the development of street signs and accommodation that cater to foreign visitors.
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Yufuin Onsen

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湯布院湯平溫泉 yufuin yunohira-onsen
湯布院湯平溫泉 yufuin yunohira-onsen | ©Chi King / Flickr
If you are planning to visit Fukuoka, this onsen at the base of Mt. Yufu is a must-see. One of the most famous hot spring resorts in Kyushu, Yufuin has become especially popular among tourists seeking a more rural onsen experience.
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Beppu Onsen

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beppu sightseeing
beppu sightseeing | ©Fredrik Rubensson / Flickr
The Beppu Onsen is the largest hot spring resort in the world. The onsen is divided into eight separate hot spring areas, each with its own unique characteristics and scenery. Not far from the public baths are the “Hells of Beppu,” a group of hot springs too hot for bathing, but still worth visiting for their scenic beauty.
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Noboribetsu Onsen

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663highland [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
663highland [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
This is Hokkaido’s most famous hot spring resort, located roughly an hour by car from Sapporo city. Guests are treated to a view of the snowy mountain landscape while keeping warm in the hot baths – a must-visit for anyone planning to make the trek up to Hokkaido.
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Kurokawa Onsen

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Kurokawa Onsen, Kyushu
Kurokawa Onsen, Kyushu | ©David McKelvey / Flickr
It is said that the waters of Kurokawa Onsen can heal nerve pain, muscle aches, and even hysteria. True or not, the quiet inns and open-air hot springs of the resort are certain to calm even the most tightly wound members of your travel group.
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Shibu Onsen

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By PMS2718 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By PMS2718 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
No trip to Nagano would be complete without a visit to Jigokudani Monkey Park, the most famous attraction of this mountain onsen resort. Visitors can watch families of snow monkeys bathe in the park’s natural hot springs. The monkeys have become accustomed to humans and don’t seem to mind if you get up close to them – just be sure to take pictures with the flash turned off!
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Gero Onsen

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By Soica2001 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Soica2001 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
This onsen in Gifu prefecture is famous for its crystal clear water, said to be safe for bathers of all ages – including babies. The hot spring resort has been open since the 10th century and is surrounded by rich nature and a traditional farming village.
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