Although various forms of massage therapies are available in luxury resorts of Japan, the volcanic hot springs, called ”Onsen” in Japanese, attract special attention. Hot springs are a popular destination for wellness tourism and healthy recreation. They are spread across every region of the country, as people in Japan are well aware of the medicinal benefits of the hot spring water. Here are the best onsen in Japan for wellness tourism:

Also Read: These 6 Spa Destinations Across the World are Perfect for a Wellness Retreat

1. Hakone Onsen
hakone onsen - best onsen in japan
The indoor baths at Hakone Onsen

Hakone has some of the best onsens in Japan. It is located in Hakone, about 90 kilometres west of Tokyo. The hot springs have been attracting tourists and pleasure-seekers for hundreds of years. There are seven hot springs at Hakone, and one of the most popular is the Miyanoshita Onsen. The resorts in Hakone provide all the facilities required for a short stay visit, as they are very close to Tokyo. The services include indoor and outdoor baths, as well as saunas for men and women.

2. Arima Onsen
Hot spring stream flowing through Arima Onsen
Hot spring stream flowing through Arima Onsen in Kita-ku, Kobe, Japan.

Located near Mount Rokkō in Kobe, Arima Onsen is one of the oldest and most famous in Japan. There are two kinds of springs here, the kinsen (“gold spring”), with yellow-ish waters, and the colourless ginsen (“silver spring”). There are many resorts (ryokans), and two public bathhouses that offer access to the hot spring for even visitors who don’t stay there.

3. Ibusuki Onsen
Ibusuki-Sand-Bath best onsen in japan
Ibusuki’s Suna-mushi or sand hot spring

This group of hot springs near Ibusuki feature the unique suna-mushi sand baths. The steaming sand from the beach is used to cover bathers. It is supposed to help relieve stress and increase blood circulation. The most well-known onsen in here are: Surigahama Onsen, Yajigayu Onsen, and Nigatsuden Onsen.

4. Kusatsu Onsen
best onsens in japan, Kusatsu Onsen in Japan
Kusatsu Onsen is the most famous hot spring resorts in Japan

Located to the northwest of Tokyo in Gunma Prefecture, the Kusatsu Onsen are one of the most well known in Japan, and a popular tourist destination. Fed by the nearby Mount Kusatsu-Shirane, locals claim that the waters can cure any ailment (except lovesickness). Along with being one of the best onsen in Japan, Kusatsu also offers other adventurous activities like hiking and skiing.

5. Hoheikyo Onsen
The scenic open-air setting of Hoheikyo Onsen
The scenic open-air setting of Hoheikyo Onsen (via Yawaraginosato Hoheikyo Onsen)

Hoheikyo is located in the suburbs of Sapporo. It is one of the largest open-air baths in Japan and is known for its beautiful landscapes. Set in a picturesque scenic location, it was designed by gardening professionals. It is also known for the nearby Indian restaurant.

6. Zaō Onsen 
Zao ski resort in the evening
Zao ski resort in the evening

Located on Mount Zaō in the northern part of Honshū, this in one of the most popular Japanese hot springs. They date as far back as 110 AD. The sulphurous waters are said to have amazing medicinal qualities. According to legend, a wounded warrior used the waters to clean himself, only to find his injuries miraculously healed. While the sulphur filled onsen emits a strong smell of rotten eggs, there are also other activities like skiing you can enjoy.

7. Takaragawa Onsen

Located int he Gunma prefecture, Takaragawa Onsen is famous for the huge outdoor bath along the river. You can relax surrounded by the great outdoors in what is considered the most scenic Onsen in Japan.

8. Beppu Onsen

Beppu city in the Oita prefecture is home to eight distinct onsen, each with public baths and ryokan. Here bather can enjoy a vast range of amenities such as traditional onsen, sand baths (where they are covered in naturally heated sand), steam baths and mud baths. Don’t miss the historic Takegawara Onsen that dates back to the Meiji period.

Also Read: 13 Incredible Public Baths Around The World

Apart from these best onsen in Japan, there are many other ways to pamper yourself on vacation. Ther are also lots of other wellness destinations you can visit across Asia.


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