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Onsen

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Hachimantai Onsen

Onsen (温泉) are Japanese hot springs, and Akita Prefecture is very famous as an onsen destination in Tohoku. The abundant minerals in the waters are said to heal ailments and provide deep relaxation. The availability of onsen is definitely one of the best perks for JETs living in Akita. There are onsen in just about every town in Akita, so please add them as you discover new ones!

Onsens are marked on maps and signs with this symbol: ♨

Etiquette

Entering a hot spring in your birthday suit can be a daunting experience. Here are some tips to help ease the transition.

  • Washing carefully BEFORE you enter the water is the most important part (except for maybe remembering to take off your clothes). Most Japanese baths will have small stools to sit on and a separate washing area away from the water.
  • In very simple or very traditional baths, however, you'll need to crouch by the edge of the bath and scoop bathwater directly out to rinse yourself — it's okay in these baths if you don't have soap.
  • Most simple to medium-range onsen expect you to bring your own soap and face towel, and even at many fancy places you can often save ¥300-500 by bringing your own. At some high-end places, all towels, soap, shampoos, and other toiletries are included in the entry fee.
  • It's best to use coin lockers for any valuable items or documents (though theft in Japan is rare). In most onsen, taking photographs is not allowed.

Famous onsen

Below is a partial list of better-known onsen in Akita. This list was composed with complete bias and a lack of objectivity, so don't be surprised if your favorite onsen isn't on this page.

For a complete list of onsen, see Akita onsen.

Aki-no-Miya Hot Springs (秋の宮温泉郷)

Aki-no-Miya Onsen

These hot springs are located in the mountain border of Akita, Yamagata, and Miyagi. Soaking in the hot springs are good for neuralgia, muscle pains, rheumatism, incised wound, burn, chronic skin disease, dyspepsia, and so on.
☎ 0183-56-2131
http://www.akinomiyaonsen.jp/

Doroyu Hot Springs (泥湯温泉)
Doroyu, or muddy water, Onsen, is actually the colloquial name for the waters surrounding the Okuyama Ryokan (奥山旅館) in Yuzawa.There are 3 hot spring hotels here called Kawa-no-yu, Yama-no-yu and Taki-no-yu.
☎ 0183-79-3021
http://www5.ocn.ne.jp/~doroyu-o/

Hachimantai Hot Springs (八幡平温泉郷)
The hot springs scattered around the Akita/Iwate border are known collectively as the Hachimantai Hot Spring Resorts. In 1971, mainly people in Matsuo village tapped this hot spring about 6 km away from Matsukawa power station. Here, you can forget time and completely enjoy this highland resort.

Mizusawa Hot Springs (水沢温泉)
〒014-1201 秋田県仙北市田沢湖生保内字下高野73-15
These hot springs are located under the Akita Komagatake, which has Tazawako at its base. There are many small hotels here where you can enjoy the calm atmosphere.
☎ 0187-46-2111
http://www.tsukamoto-sogyo.co.jp/mizusawa/onsen/index.html

Tsuru-no-yu Onsen

Nyuto Onsen (乳頭温泉)
is aruguably the most famous Onsen in Akita. Located in Semboku in the Towada Hachimantai National park, Nyuto Onsen is actually is a cluster of onsen, the most famous of which is Tsuru-no-Yu with its milky white water. Onsen in this area frequently have an outdoor pool with mixed-sex bathing, (called konyoku, 混浴). Mixed bathing areas will (ideally) be clearly marked with the kanji 混.
http://nyuto-onsenkyo.com/

  • Tsuru no Yu (鶴の湯)
    秋田県仙北市田沢湖先達沢国有林50
    0187-46-2139
    10:00-15:00
    ¥500
    Billed as a "secret onsen dating back to the Edo period", Tsuru no Yu is the most old-school onsen in the ken, and one of the best without question. No showers here, only buckets and extremely sulphury waters. The biggest rotenburo here is mixed. You'll have to get dressed to go between all the indoor pools, so bring a yukata to cover up.

Oga Hot Springs (男鹿温泉郷)

Oga Onsen

These hot springs are located in the northern area of Oga peninsula. They are close to Nyudo-zaki, Hachibotai and Oga aquarium. The pure carbonic salt water of these hot springs helps to relieve stress.

Oyasukyo Hot Springs (小安峡温泉)
Located in Yuzawa, this new type of hot spring town provides access to indoor swimming pools and ski areas. The waters here are especially good for skin problems, women's problems and general improvement in health.
Website

Oyu Hot Springs (大湯温泉)

Oyu Onsen

Established 800 years ago and known as the Town of Hot Water for centuries, the Oyu hot spring is close to Lake Towada and boasts many old inns. This hot spring is located in Kazuno in the southern part of Lake Towada. These waters are said to be very good for the skin. All year round, outdoor activities are available to help relieve fatigue.
☎ 0186-37-4111
http://www.h-kazuno.co.jp/en/ - English website

Tamagawa Hot Spring (玉川温泉)
This hot spring gushes from Chichibu stratum, 1700 m below the surface. Probably the second most famous Onsen in Akita behind Nyuto. This hot spring boats the highest flow rate of any onsen in Japan, and is its curative powers are thought to be among the strongest as well. Some of the ailments it is said to be good for are neuralgia, muscle pains, arthralgia, paralysis, arthritis, bruises, sprains, chronic dyspepsia, poor circulation, and fatigue. Also has some of the highest acidity of any hot spring in Japan as well.

Tazawako Kogen Hot Springs (田沢湖高原温泉)
You can see Tazawako and Komagatake from here where many young people enjoy skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer.

Sand Onsen (砂ゆっこ)
There is a sand onsen located just beyond the Akita border, in Iwate, near Yokote.
homepage.

Vocabulary

The following are words that you are likely to encounter on your onsen travels.

Romaji Japanese English
Ofuro お風呂 Bath
Rotemburo 露天風呂 Open air bath
Ganbanyoku 岩盤浴 Stone sauna
Neyu 寝湯
Mizuburo 水風呂 Cold bath
jakuuji ジャクージ Jacuzzi
Sauna サウナ Sauna
Konyoku 混浴 Mixed onsens

See also

Entertainment in Akita
Sports Running • Bicycling • Soccer • Basketball • Cricket • Ground Golf
Martial Arts Kendo • Kyudo • Judo • Naginatado • Karatedo • Sado
Outdoors Hiking/Climbing • Camping • Rafting • Skiing and snowboarding
Leisure Onsen • Movies • Museums and zoos • Ramen shops • Akita beer • Doburoku • Cigar stores • Festivals • Arcades • Taiko