The Jakarta Post
Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku features slate-floored pools on the riverbank. (Shutterstock/-)
Home to mineralled water, the soft sound of chatter, swaddling steam and majestic views, onsen (hot springs) have become an icon of Japanese tourism to equal sakura flowers and Mount Fuji. These baths are said to have a therapeutic quality, containing healthgiving minerals, and are often used as places of social gathering by local people.
Nowadays, onsen attract a large number of international tourists, making them one of the highlights of travel in the country. Onsen can be found scattered across Japan, but here are a few must-visit onsen that you can add to your itinerary.
Onsen with Mt. Fuji view
There is arguably nothing more rewarding than becoming one with nature, and therefore Sengokuhara Onsen in Ashigarashimo district, Kanagawa prefecture, is an ideal option, with its outdoor natural setting spring bath and Japan’s grandest icon, Mount Fuji, as the panorama. Luckily for women, the view is said to be much better from the female section. Another gift for women is sake on the spot, served from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. An indoor spring is also available for guests who prefer to shelter from the elements.
Opening hours: Walk-in guests can only visit Friday-Tuesday (1 p.m. until midnight); Wednesday-Thursday (3 p.m. until midnight)
Another way to get back to nature is by enjoying a riverflow onsen. The 24-hour operated Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku features slate-floored pools on the riverbank where you can enjoy the tranquil surroundings deep in the nature of Gunma prefecture. With its four giant open air spas made of natural stones, you can opt for its three gender-mixed spas or head to the women's spa for a more secluded experience.
If you don’t have the time to travel the country and plan to only stay in Tokyo, no worries as the city also has nice onsen to visit. Niwa no Yu is ideal those who dream of nature but are unable to make the travel. With its fantastic natural setting, you wouldn’t believe that it’s located just next to amusement park Toshimaen. Set in a garden designed by Japan's leading landscape architect Kenzo Kosugi, the child-free onsen features separate bathing areas for men and women as well as a central pool, outdoor jacuzzi and sauna, and even a Finnish outdoor sauna where you can enjoy soothing scents such as citrus and lavender.
Opening hours: 11 a.m. - 10:20 p.m.
(Read also: Five best spots for Sakura sighting)
Quaint traditional onsen
The list would not be complete without featuring an onsen with an authentic Japanese setting. Located in Kyushu, Takegawara will take you back to 1859 in the Meiji era where it was first opened. Despite its modest feature, that lets you enjoy a simple bath, you can also try heated sand baths where you will be buried in heated sands while wearing a yukata made from cotton. (kes)
Opening hours: 6:30 a.m. - 10:30 p.m.; 8 a.m. for footbath
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