Soak it up in Japan: 4 Hot Springs to Visit

BY LEAH LOH

 

Natural hot springs—also known as onsen (温泉)—are wildly popular across Japan. After all, who doesn’t like taking time off to relax? Here are four hot spring ryokan (traditional inns) and theme parks to visit while you’re there.

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1. Dogo Onsen Honkan
Said to be the inspiration behind the main building of the award-winning film Spirited Away, Dogo Onsen Honkan is one of the oldest and most famous hot springs in Japan. Located in Matsuyama, the hot spring dates back to 1894, during the Meiji period. Besides being a popular attraction among tourists, Dogo Onsen is also frequented by the Imperial Family. A special section, known as Yushinden, was constructed for the Imperial Family’s visit in 1899. Tourists can opt for a guided tour to view the lavish facilities reserved for visiting emperors.

2. Ooedo Onsen Monogatari
Located in Odaiba, the Ooedo Onsen Monogatari is a natural hot spring theme park which was designed to resemble the old Edo era. Visitors can enjoy up to 13 varieties of baths from natural hot springs that were pumped up from 1,400m underground. Besides relaxing in the hot springs, visitors can put on yukatas and stroll through the Hirokoji and Happakuyacho shopping arcades within the theme park that mimic the bustling streets of Shitamachi section of the old Edo.

3. Hakone Kowakien Yunessun Inn
At Yunessun Spa Resort in Hakone, visitors can soak in a variety of unique flavoured baths such as green tea, coffee, wine, and sake, each offering different health benefits. Sake, for example, helps combats freckles and age spots, while green tea helps to boost the immune system. Red wine lovers can also enjoy drinking while soaking in an outdoor pool of red wine.

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4. Beppu Onsen
Beppu is known as the Japan’s onsen capital, and for good reason. The city has as many as eight different hot springs, and together they produce the largest volume of hot spring water in Japan. Visitors can also check out the various “hells” of Beppu—eight magnificent hot springs that while beautiful, are not suitable for bathing.

 


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