Owing its entire existence to the plate tectonic-fuelled Ring of Fire, Japan may have more than its fair share of experience with earthquakes, but all this activity beneath the earth has positive consequences as well. The magma flowing beneath the water table throughout this island nation have created countless places where steaming springs surface, granting the Japanese the gift of easily accessible relaxation and healing.
Not surprisingly, this natural asset has given rise to unique public bathing facilities known as Onsen. While many cities, towns, and villages have Onsen, some stand head and shoulders above others by virtue of their surrounding environment, and the amenities that they provide.
Japan is a large country though, making it hard to know which of these piping hot beauties to grace with your presence. No matter where you go, we here at holidaydigg.com have you covered.
From north to south, here are three Onsen that will put you in touch with hot springs that are truly representative of this crucial aspect of Japanese culture.
Sounkyo Onsen, Hokkaido
In the frosty north of the country, a nice leisurely bath in a sulfurous spring is a highly advised experience after a long day carving tight s-turns in the powder choked mountains of the snowbound island of Hokkaido. One particularly special place is Sounkyo Onsen, which is hidden deep in the wild hinterland of this massive isle, as it is situated in a valley tucked cosily between the Daisetsu Mountains.
Getting here is far from straightforward, as it involve taking the train to Kamikawa, then hopping on a bus that will take you to the small settlement surrounding this onsen. When you aren’t absorbing the heat and minerals from this water, enjoy hiking to a beautiful waterfall in summer, or carving up some powder at the local ski hill.
Takaragawa Onsen, Central Honshu
On the busy urban island of Honshu, a good soak will be just what the doctor ordered when the breakneck pace of mega city life becomes too much to bear. When your travels become stressful, or if working in the capital as an expat begins to take its toll, then making your way north of Tokyo to Takaragawa Onsen will mellow out your nerve-wracked body in a hurry.
Your R&R session will begin once you enter the facility, as much of it is beautifully crafted from pine wood. The main attraction lies outdoors by the river, as numerous poshly created pools lie alongside this rushing torrent of water. Access is available at any time of day, and the facility remains open through all four seasons.
Kurokawa Onsen, Kyushu
If your travels take you further south, then be sure to visit Kurokawa Onsen, a community built entirely around the hot springs lifestyle. Paired with numerous zen gardens, this village is a supremely inspiring and relaxing place, so much so that many Japanese simply wander from spring to spring in town with nothing else but a bathrobe on.
Of all the springs to try, make time to experience to cave springs, where one can soak, while the heat from the onsen causes cool condensation drops to form above you, which will cool you off randomly throughout your soak.
Japan: A Country Featuring Natural Jacuzzis In A North To South Arc
Considering how hard the Japanese work from day to day, it is no small blessing that such a pervasive network of natural hot springs exists in the countries, as it allows its stressed populace a badly needed release valve. Travel can be stressful at times as well, so do as the locals do on your journey through Japan and let your problems float away on the 45 degree Celsius current that runs through these places.