Explore your world
© 663highland/Wikimedia Commons
© 663highland/Wikimedia Commons

Japanese Hot Springs: The Most Beautiful Onsen in Japan

Picture of Dave Afshar
Updated: 12 July 2017
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.

Hakone Onsen

Conveniently located only an hour and a half from Tokyo by car or local train, Hakone Onsen features a number of hot springs, day spas and resorts. Visitors can choose to stay in a traditional ryokan or opt for a Western-style hotel.

〒250-0407 Kanagawa-ken, Ashigarashimo-gun, Hakone-machi, Ninotaira, Japan

Hakone, hot springs |©Arian Zwegers / Flickr

Hakone, hot springs |© Arian Zwegers / Flickr

Yufuin Onsen

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.

〒879-5114 Ōita-ken, Yufu-shi, Yufuinchō Kawakita, 大分県由布市湯布院町川北8−2, Japan

湯布院湯平溫泉 yufuin yunohira-onsen |©Chi King / Flickr

湯布院湯平溫泉 Yufuin Yunohira-Onsen |© Chi King / Flickr

Kawaguchiko Onsen

Located just two hours from Tokyo by bus, this onsen sits at the base of the legendary Mt. Fuji. The hot baths, as well as the accommodations, are designed to give guests a clear view of the mountain at all times.

Kawaguchiko Onsen |©Melanie M / Flickr

Kawaguchiko Onsen |© Melanie M / Flickr

Hida-Takayama Onsen

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.

〒506-0053 Gifu-ken, Takayama-shi, Shōwamachi, 1 Chome, 昭和町一丁目22-2, Japan

By Balou46 (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

© Balou46 / Wikimedia Commons

Beppu Onsen

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.

12-13 Ekimaechō, Beppu-shi, Ōita-ken, Japan

beppu sightseeing |©Fredrik Rubensson / Flickr

Beppu sightseeing | © Fredrik Rubensson / Flickr

Noboribetsu Onsen

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.

〒059-0551 Hokkaidō, Noboribetsu-shi, Noboribetsuonsenchō, 北海道登別市登別温泉町 162, Japan

663highland [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC BY 2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons

© 663highland / Wikimedia Commons

Kurokawa Onsen

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.

〒869-2402 Kumamoto Prefecture, Aso District, 南小国町大字満願寺6594−3, Japan

Kurokawa Onsen, Kyushu |©David McKelvey / Flickr

Kurokawa Onsen, Kyushu | © David McKelvey / Flickr

Ibusuki Onsen

This unique resort features a hot sand spring in addition to the standard onsen bath. Here, guests wear a yukata and are covered in hot steamed sand, which is said to have positive effects on both health and beauty.

Ibusuki, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan

Ibusuki Sand Onsen | © Travis / Flickr

Shibu Onsen

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!

Hirao, 山ノ内町 Shimotakai District, Nagano Prefecture, Japan

By PMS2718 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

© PMS2718 / Wikimedia Commons

Gero Onsen

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.

Koden, Gero, Gifu Prefecture, Japan

By Soica2001 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

© Soica2001 / Wikimedia Commons