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  • Guide to the Best Hakuba Public Onsen, Japan

    June 26, 2020 7 min read

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    ...now which one to choose?!

    Onsen are a unique slice of Japanese culture and for Japanese people, hitting the snow and visiting onsen go hand in hand – and there is a reason why this package deal is also popular with tourists. There is not better way to unwind from a day on the Hakuba slopes than relaxing in an onsen, or two, and because there is an abundance it is easy to go onsen-hopping. Hakuba is also a great place for ‘Higaeri Onsen’ which is the Japanese phrase for a one day trip to Japanese hot springs, whether to relax in one onsen or visit multiple in one day.

    One of the best things about skiing and snowboarding at Hakuba is that there is no shortage of onsen, with many of the public onsen close to ski areas, and most accommodation options having their own onsen facilities. So whether you want to enjoy ‘rotenburo’ (outside bath)

    with a view of the Northern Alps or soak in a range of different baths with different qualities, you are sure soothe your body, mind and soul and relax in ultimate luxury.

    Visiting Hakuba Onsen - Are Public Onsen Good?

    Hakuba is a popular choice for onsen as there are several onsen sources in Hakuba providing different water qualities (colours, characteristics, water types and effects from the hot springs). For example some onsen have salty hot spring water which helps your skin become smoother, while some can have added infusions to help you relax. One great reason to visit public onsen outside of your accommodation is that some public onsen also have herbal baths and onsen pools with different qualities, while most accommodation onsen will be simple hot baths, whether inside or outside. 

    Visiting public onsen facilities is not going to set you back a lot, with most onsen entry prices ranging from JPY 400 – 600 ($5-8 AUD) for adults. If you’re not game enough to get completely naked and enjoy traditional onsen, there are also a range of first-time-friendly onsen such as foot baths.

    If you don’t know the etiquette and rules of visiting onsen in Japan then you can check a great guide here by the Culture Trip.

    Our ultimate guide to Hakuba onsen is split by public onsen, and onsen at hotel (coming soon in a separate blog post) – so whether you want to do what local Japanese people do and go onsen-hopping, or simply look at which hotels have great onsen, the guide to the best onsen is sure to help.

    Obinata No Yu

    Obinata No Yu is the onsen closest to the source of the natural hot spring and is famed for it natural hydrogen spring which is said to have anti-aging properties. With one male and one female rotenburo (open air bath) it is a popular place to bathe and enjoy the snow covered surroundings. Obinata No Yu is also one of the few onsen for private bookings by mixed groups, so if you are travelling with a group of friends and want to bathe together, then this is your spot – as they also offer accommodation pick up.

    Open from 9am -6pm, adult entry is 650 yen.

    (Image source)

    Sato No Yu

    With distinctive hexagonal buildings and baths, Sato No Yu is located in the Happo Onsen district and is known for its hinoki cypress bathtubs. It is a great place to relax and listen to the mountain torrents and view the natural scenery of the Northern Alps.. Located near the information centre and bus terminal it is one of the most popular onsen in the village. You can even buy original branded towels, rent towels or bring your own.

    Open from 12pm-9pm (closed on Tuesdays), adult entry is 600 yen.

    (Image source)

    Hakuba Ryujin Onsen

    Opening in 2007, Hakuba Ryujin Onsen is located in the Goryu area, and is designed in traditional Japanese layout. It is the largest hot spring facility in the area you can enjoy all year round and features both indoor and outdoor baths, the rich mineral water is said to have many health benefits.

    Open from 11am-10pm, adult entry is 800 yen.

    (Image source)

    Garden No Yu

    Located in the large Green Valley complex, Garden No Yu is noted for the effects of the salty-brown water at this onsen. Similar to Kurashita No Yu (below), the murky water is ancient sea water giving it its unique colour. The mixture of sodium, chlorine and carbonated salt water provide a uniquely high salt content that is good for your entire body. Garden no-yu is one of the favourite places in the region to relax.

    Open from 10:30am-10pm, adult entry is 600 yen.

    (Image source)

    Kurashita No Yu Onsen

    The source for all of Shionomichi Onsen, Kurashita No Yu onsen is famous for it murky brown-ochre water. The onsen pumps up sea water trapped deep underground for over 25 million years ago from a depth of 1,050m. The onsen features one large outdoor bath with the sodium, chloride, hydrogen carbonate hot spring water containing lots of natural salts and an average temperature of 48. Located near Matsukawa River Park the onsen has spectacular views of the mountains.

    Open from 10am-10pm, adult entry is 600 yen.

    (Image source)

    Kitaone Kogen Footbath

    Located 2000 meters above sea level, Kitaone Kogen is a great place for people wanting to ‘dip their toe’ in the onsen experience – as it’s a foot bath!

    Open from 9am-4pm you can visit the onsen via the scenic chairlift for a total price of 1,200 yen for adults.

    (Image source)

    Renge Spa

    If you are a backcountry skier then Renge Spa is for you! Only open for around 4-5 months a year it is a popular spot for Japanese back country and nordic skiiers who make their way here in the late winter or early spring.

    As it is a hidden scenic spot only accessible by backcountry skiing, it is as remote as you can get and one of the most luxurious experiences – relaxing in an outdoor open-air bath whilst enjoying breathtaking views – all for 800 yen!

    (Image source)

    Happo No Yu

    Hakuba Happo Onsen operate four different onsen, located at the base of Hakuba Happo Ski Resort. These public onsen are favoured by many locals for their healing characteristics, as well as by tourists for their proximity.

    One of the biggest hot spring facilities, Happo No Yu offers an open-air bath with stunning views of Shirouma Sanzan (three main mountains of Shirouma) and the Hakuba Happo-one ski area. Open from 9am-10pm all year round (closed on Wednesdays) adult entry is 800 yen,and features one indoor onsen and one outdoor onsen for both men and women.

    (Image source)

    Mimizuku No Yu

    Located in Hakuba Village, Mimizuki No Yu is a popular onsen choice for the ability to see Hakuba’s three symbolic peaks (Mt. Hakuba, Mt. Shakushi and Mt. Hakubayari all while relaxing in the rotenburo (open-air baths). The alkaline mineral water baths will deeply cleanse as well as help soothe sore muscles. It is also a great place to onsen in spring when you can enjoy relaxing with the views of cherry blossoms.

    Open from 10am-9:30pm all year round, adult entry is 600 yen.

    (Image source)

    Hakuba-yari Onsen

    If you are looking for a remote onsen experience then Hakuba-yari Onsen Koya is the probably the most remote you can get. At an elvation of 2100m, it is the highest natural onsen in Japan, and only open from the end of July to the end of September before it is dismantled at the end of every hiking season and then rebuilt the following season. Popular with mountain hikers and skiers, there are mixed baths, with indoor female baths for more privacy, with the open-air bath set for women only from 8-9pm. You can camp nearby for 1000 yen, or day use of the onsen cost 500 yen.

    (Image source)

    Echoland No Yu

    Open throughout the year and located at the front of Echo Land (next to Happo), this onsen features an outside bath as well as a sauna bath. Echo Land has one main street which features many restuarants, bars, izakaya and draws lots of people at night. It also great that this onsen is open from noon until midnights allowing you to relax in a bath after a night out

    Adult entry is 600 yen.

    (Image source)

    Iwatake No Yu

    Only open for five hours a day and only when the Iwatake Ski Resort is operating, Iwatake No Yu in Tenjin allows you to relax in an open air bath while enjoying the view of the peaks of Hakuba. The natural spring water features sodium and chloride and is great for fatigue reduction and chronic dermatitis.

    Open from 1pm-6pm, adult entry is 600 yen.

    (Image source)

    Juro No Yu

    A popular onsen located just a few hundred metres from the slopes of Hakuba Goryu and Toomi this onsen is open 24 hours some days during winter which means you can relax at any time of the day!

    With a variety of baths to try, both the mens and womens areas feature large indoor baths, outdoor baths allowing views of the snow-capped mountains, smaller baths as well as a sauna. The water is clear and has a mild mineral content including sodium chloride which acts as a great toner for skin.

    Open from 10am-10pm, adult entry is 600 yen.

    (Image source)

    Moto Yu Tsuga No Mori

    If you’re in Tsugaike, Moto Yu Tsuga No Mori probably the most popular onsen spot close to the ski fields. Although on the expensive side, it is the perfect place that offers deep, full-body relaxation in the 100% natural, mineral-rich springs.

    Open from 9am-10pm, adult entry is 800 yen.

    (Image source)

    If you're heading to Hakuba make sure to visit an onsen - it's an experience you won't forget! Or if you know someone heading there feel free to share this post!

    If you’re after any local tips for the slopes or advice on gear for your upcoming adventure, send us an email or hit us up on Facebook.

    ✌🏻Yonde kurete arigatou (thanks for reading)!

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