5.23.2011

The Soul of Japan: Greatest Onsen

N.B. We do not use plural forms for Japanese words, so onsen is always in the singular form.

I have compiled a number of highly regarded onsen from my own private database, along with highlights on Google Maps. The onsen, for those who do not know, is a hotspring. A mineral rich spring that comes up from the earth that people bathe in. In North America, most people snap photos of such places, while here in Japan the locals bathe in them. The hot spring is a source of healing and relaxation that many Japanese travel far and wide to soak in. Some Japanese regard the onsen as a rich part of their cultural heritage, while others just consider it a pastime, something they typically try to enjoy once a year.

There are many icons on my google maps, so what you'll need to do is zoom in closely to whatever area you are interested in. There should be some commentary there about all the places I have visited. This map is a work in progress so as the days and weeks go by I may begin uploading pictures for every single onsen in the list. There are more onsen, believe me. This blog has been a journey for me. Through my travels, I have come to love this country immensely, and sometimes the quirkiness of its people.


The nihonshu, onsen, Jukujo, Japanese cuisine,Tohoku, the distinctive four seasons, Shinkansen, Sea of Japan, Mt. Fuji, and both Yasukuni and Ise Shrines for me are what make Japan great. Other things just pass off as trivial and insignificant when paired up against my own preferences. Again, these are my own choices.


This map should serve as a guide for those who want to experience some of the best hotsprings in Japan. So feel free to leave a comment, either on my blog or on google maps.

Cheers,


21 comments:

  1. Great map!! Have you been to many onsens in the Gifu/Nagano area of Japan?

    Japan Australia

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  2. Japan-Australia,

    Thanks for commenting. Yes. I have been to those areas. I have some places listed there on my google maps

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  3. Thanks for the map; an excellent resource. It would be good if you were able to add a comment on the map tag to confirm if the water is genuine onsen or not for sento in Tokyo/Kawasaki/Yokohama, where the majority of sento don't have an onsen source, rather tap water infused with added chlorine; more of a swimming pool smell which I'm adverse to...my preference is to frequent genuine onsen sento, which more often than not means yellow/brown/black waters. For me, these places are the real deal and more therapeutic than non-onsen sento. If you have any recommendations for such places in Tokyo/Yokohama/Kawasaki region, I'd appreciate your suggestions. I'd be happy to send you a list of my favourite onsen sento. Out of interest, what's the name of the place that you referred to in your "do's and dont's" blog in Asahi-ku with yellow'ish onsen water and a sauna? Thanks in advance.

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  4. Thanks for the map; an excellent resource. It would be good if you were able to add a comment on the map tag to confirm if the water is genuine onsen or not for sento in Tokyo/Kawasaki/Yokohama, where the majority of sento don't have an onsen source, rather tap water infused with added chlorine; more of a swimming pool smell which I'm adverse to...my preference is to frequent genuine onsen sento, which more often than not means yellow/brown/black waters. For me, these places are the real deal and more therapeutic than non-onsen sento. If you have any recommendations for such places in Tokyo/Yokohama/Kawasaki region, I'd appreciate your suggestions. I'd be happy to send you a list of my favourite onsen sento. Out of interest, what's the name of the place that you referred to in your "do's and dont's" blog in Asahi-ku with yellow'ish onsen water and a sauna? Thanks in advance.

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  5. @John,

    Thanks for your comment. I will do as you suggested.
    Also, the name of the place is called Asahi Family:Asahi

    Family Health Land-yu
    Japan, 〒241-0002 神奈川県横浜市旭区上白根3丁目34-3
    +81 45-955-1126 ‎

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  6. Thanks for the details. Here's one I liked in your neck of the woods. Silky-smooth 黒湯.

    Kusatsu onsen sento
    横浜市南区井土ヶ谷上町21-29
    TEL:045-712-2617

    http://www.asahi-net.or.jp/~ue3t-cb/spa/yokohama_kusatu/yokohama_kusatu.htm

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  7. great artikel thnx for sharing

    plz follow back brother

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  8. I have lived in Japan for 16+ years and had no idea what a Jukujo was. I thought about the construction of the word for about an hour until I finally figured it out. A jukusei shita onna, right? Learn something new everyday. I'm also a sake enthusiast. Cheers.

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  9. I would like to try out an onsen if I am lucky enough to have another trip to Japan

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  10. The onsen are something I had heard about but never seriously considered for me. However after listening to your apt description, I find myself fantasizing about sinking slowly into the brown or black water of the authentic onsen. Why would I want to go into tap water, with chlorine which I can get in any pool. Hot springs are medicinal, sensual and quite an experience for anyone and I thank you for the map so one or two can be included in my plans.

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  11. The onsen seem like a great way to relax both mentally and physically. People who have access to the onsen should greatly appreciate them. I would love to live near the onsen. Your map is very helpful to people who might want to visit.

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  12. Onsen were traditionally used as public bathing places and today play a central role in directing Japanese domestic tourism. I feel it is best to choose one that is less bombarded by tourists when possible.

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  13. there are a number of popular establishments still found within major cities. They are a major tourist attraction drawing Japanese couples, families or company groups who want to get away from the hectic life of the city to relax. Japanese often talk of the virtues of "naked communion" (裸の付き合い hadaka no tsukiai for breaking down barriers and getting to know people in the relaxed homey atmosphere of a ryokan with an attached onsen

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  14. Onsen should be differentiated from sentō, indoor public bath houses where the baths are filled with heated tap water. I believe truly it has healing powers derived from its minerals. Excellent map !

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  15. George KatstankasisJuly 26, 2012 at 10:41 AM

    Onsen vary from quiet to noisy, some play piped music and often feature gushing fountains. I would prefer to engage in conversation in a more relaxed Onsen experience.

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  16. James Goldberg Esq.July 26, 2012 at 10:44 AM

    I desire this experience so much to heal aches, pains, and my fatigue. One with the best open scenery and peace and quiet.

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  17. This is very nice information for any traveler and I want to share some knowledge with you. On the north-eastern tip of Hokkaido, remote Shiretoko National Park is perfect hiking terrain, with lakes, forest and rugged cliffs stretching along the coast. Hike up a mountain stream to bathe in the natural hot springs by Kamuiwakka waterfall, or take a boat trip around the peninsula to see dense forest interspersed with waterfalls tumbling into the Sea of Okhotsk.

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  18. Great post! I’m British and have therefore been brought up to believe that public nudity is shameful, (God forbid that you ever see a naked woman in the shower at the gym or pool!!!) and so my trip to a Japanese onsen was a liberating experience for me.

    We were given a tiny towel that barely even covered one breast and had to copy the actions of others as we were given no instructions. I was with a very good friend of mine but we both made a conservative effort not to look any further below the level of each others’ eyes the whole time!

    I am glad I did it but I found the water too hot to stay in for very long, as did my friend who promptly fainted in the changing rooms. Not an ideal situation to deal with when you are both in the nude!!!!

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  19. I never gone to Onsen but I will. I will go for relaxing mentally. I think People who have access to the onsen should greatly appreciate them. Your Onsen map is very helpful to me.

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  20. Nice map for the Japan, It could help the travelers and tourists in visiting Tokyo and other places in Japan.

    Japan Tour

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  21. great work, thank you , very detailed. I dream to go skiing in Hokkaido and enjoying an onsen afterwards, any recommendation?

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