Japan is a country teeming with natural beauty, from its lush landscapes to its vibrant cities. One of the most unique features of Japan is its abundance of hot springs, known as onsen. An onsen is a natural hot spring which is filled with mineral-rich hot water that is thought to have healing properties.

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Onsen in Japan

Beppu Onsen in Japan. (Source: Klook)

Onsen, which are hot springs, are natural bodies of hot water found in Japan that are believed to have therapeutic properties due to the high mineral content in the water. Onsen can be found throughout Japan, ranging from the northernmost island of Hokkaido to the southernmost island of Okinawa. Many onsen are located in traditional Japanese inns, known as ryokan, providing visitors with an authentic Japanese experience.

How to Experience Onsen in Japan?

The experience of visiting an onsen usually begins with a soak in the hot springs. The water temperature is typically around 40 degrees Celsius and contains minerals such as sulfur, calcium, and magnesium that are believed to be beneficial for the body.

As the hot water works its magic on your body, you can enjoy the picturesque surroundings of nature, relax and unwind in the peaceful atmosphere. After the soak, visitors can enjoy a dip in a cold pool to cool off and to further stimulate the body.

Types of Onsen in Japan

Onsen can vary in size and facilities, from small privately owned pools to large resorts with a variety of pools, saunas, and other amenities. Some onsen offer additional treatments such as massage and beauty treatments, while others are more basic and rustic.

There are also different types of onsen categorized based on the water composition, temperature, and mineral content. For example, kuroyu (black water) onsen is high in sulfur and has a dark color, while the clear water of ginnoyu (silver water) onsen contains calcium and is beneficial for the skin.

Kuroyu, The Black Water Onsen in Gunma

You can experience the open-air baths of Takaragawa Onsen in Gunma Prefecture. (Source: agoda)

Blessed with high-quality hot springs, Takaragawa Onsen in Gunma Prefecture, Japan is known for its “black water” hot spring area. Although the water isn’t black, it is rich in organic matter and minerals like iron and sulfur. The onsen has four outdoor baths, one for women-only and three mixed-gender. It’s a great option for those wanting to experience hot springs without sharing a bath with strangers.

Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku. (Source: Agoda)

Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku is a serene onsen resort located in Gunma Prefecture, Japan, renowned for its scenic river baths. For an unforgettable experience of Japan’s famous “black water” onsen, book a stay at Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku in Gunma Prefecture.

Ginoyu, The Silver Water Onsen in Nagano Prefecture

Enjoy the benefits of milky white onsen in Shirahone Onsen. (Source: agoda)

Shirahone Onsen is famous in Japan for its milky white, mineral-rich hot springs that are said to have therapeutic properties for the skin. The water’s unique silky texture and high sulfur content make it a popular destination for visitors seeking relaxation and rejuvenation in a natural setting. The onsen is also located in a scenic mountainous region of Nagano Prefecture, further adding to its appeal as a top destination for hot springs lovers.

Shirahone Onsen Tsuruya Ryokan (Source: agoda)

For travelers seeking a truly unique and unforgettable onsen experience in Japan, you may book a stay at Shirahone Onsen Tsuruya Ryokan in Nagano Prefecture. This traditional inn is famous for its milky white Shirahone Onsen, which is rich in minerals and said to have therapeutic properties for the skin. By soaking in this hot spring, guests can relax and rejuvenate in a serene, natural setting, surrounded by the beautiful mountains of Nagano.

Onsen Etiquette

It’s important to follow the onsen etiquette, which includes washing your body thoroughly before entering the hot springs, not letting your hair or towel touch the water, and being mindful of others in the onsen by keeping quiet and not splashing water. It is also common to wear a yukata, a light cotton robe, provided by the ryokan or onsen, to stroll around the facility.

Bottom Line

Visiting an onsen is a great way to relax and unwind in the natural beauty of Japan. The experience of soaking in a hot spring surrounded by nature is like no other, and is sure to leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Whether you are staying at a traditional inn or at a modern resort, a visit to an onsen is sure to be a highlight of your Japanese vacation.


What are onsen in Japan?

Onsen are natural hot springs found throughout Japan, known for their mineral-rich, therapeutic water.

Where can you find onsen in Japan?

Onsen can be found throughout Japan, from the northernmost island of Hokkaido to the southernmost island of Okinawa.

What is the typical temperature of hot springs in Japan?

The water temperature of hot springs in Japan is typically around 40 degrees Celsius.

What are the different types of onsen based on water composition?

Onsen in Japan are categorized based on their water composition, temperature, and mineral content, with examples including kuroyu (black water) and ginnoyu (silver water).

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