The six best hot springs to visit in Japan
Onsens are an incredible, relaxing and beneficial part of Japanese culture - and bathing in one is an unforgettable experience.
Natural hot springs across Japan have become popular tourist destinations for travellers looking for a bit of wild luxury.
To test out the healing properties of onsens and float in the mineral-rich waters, we visited Åita, a prefecture on the island of Kyushu, Japan, and home to many notable hot springs.
In addition to boasting the highest output of hot spring water in Japan, the city was also host to the 2018 International Onsen Summit, a convention that aims to increase tourism in rural areas.
Participants meet to discuss the role onsens play in boosting tourism efforts as not just beauty and medical destinations, but also as sources of renewable energy.
While the convention paled in comparison to experiencing the actual onsens for ourselves, it was fascinating to see and hear the various ways the mineral-rich waters benefit tourists and locals alike.
Testing the waters was an entirely new and foreign experience - and one worth making the journey to the island of Kyushu for.
These are the six best onsens in Kyushu, Japan.
Hyotan hot springs
The only hot springs in Japan awarded three Michel in stars, the Hyotan onsens are easily the number one hot springs to visit.
With indoor and outdoor baths separated for men and women, bathing in the Hyotan hot springs feels like you are at a high-end spa.
The waterfalls, both indoors and outdoors, add to the incredible relaxing atmosphere.
Before you bathe in the waters, the sand bath is worth trying as well. Although technically not an onsen, the sand is heated by the steam from the onsen, making it an enjoyable place for a quick nap - while your body releases toxins.
After bathing, guests can enjoy sweet potatoes and hard boiled eggs cooked by the steam of the hot spring.
Onsens at Beppu Onsen Hotel Sansuikan
Guests at this traditional Japanese ryokan, or inn, can relax in any of the multiple indoor or outdoor baths.
Located on two floors of the hotel, the outdoor baths are scenic and relaxing, while the indoor baths offer a bathing option similar to a hot tub or jacuzzi.
The traditional rooms, complete with bamboo floors and no beds, make this an experience worth trying.
Hells of Beppu
The seven âHellsâ of Beppu are sight-seeing onsens rather than bathing ones, and they are stunning to behold.
A tourist destination more than anything else, five of the onsens are located within feet of one another - which makes it even more surprising to see the differences between each body of water.
Showcasing the various ways minerals can alter hot spring water, the hells are all different colours and consistencies.
The most beautiful of them, Umi Jigoku or âsea hellâ features bright turquoise waters under rising swirls of steam.
If you go in the summer months, the flowers will be in bloom, turning this hot spring into the most beautiful representation of âhellâ youâll ever see.
The other hot springs feature bubbling mud and white, milky-looking water.
This onsen is located in the town of Kurokawa, a small lovely destination in the heart of Kyushu thatâs perfect for tourists. With some of the most beautiful hotels and nature views, any of the hot springs in Kurokawa are worth visiting.
âThe town also offers visitors the option of purchasing an onsen-hopping pass which allows you to try three of the 24 outdoor baths in Kurokawa.
Onsens at Kurokawa Onsen Yamabiko Ryokan
Hotel guests at this traditional ryokan located near Kurokawa will be pleasantly surprised by the amazing hot springs offered.
In addition to outdoor springs, guests can also book private rooms for an hour complete with indoor baths set into the ground and views of the surrounding grounds.
One thing to note is the hotel does not have showers in the guest rooms as guests are expected to take part in the hot springs, and bathing is required beforehand.
Aso Uchinomaki hot spring
Located at the foot of one of the five peaks of Mount Aso, in one of the largest calderas in the world, these hot springs offer relaxation and incredible mountain views.
The area, which is also good for tourists, boasts roughly 80 hot springs and eight public baths, where you can bath like a local.
Prices are relatively cheap and the views are unforgettable.
Before relaxing in the springs, visitors should book a cycling ride down Mount Aso - a smooth and easy ride completely downhill that encompasses views of the top of the volcano, the neighbouring mountains, and animals that you can stop and pet on the way down.
Overall, a trip to Japan is not complete without a visit to Kyushu, where traditional Japan meets contemporary luxury. Free from the overwhelming number of people, and tourists, in some of the larger cities, Kyushu offers those looking for relaxation and healing the chance to do so in onsens that bubble up directly from inside the earth.
With a variety of beneficial mineral hot springs, wildlife and nature, and incredible food and hospitality, we returned home feeling refreshed and eager to return.Source: Google News Japan | Netizen 24 Japan