Outdoor Onsens: 8 Unique Hot Springs to Visit this Winter

Outdoor Onsens: 8 Unique Hot Springs to Visit this Winter


Bathing by a cave? A river? A waterfall? This article will introduce 8 unique outdoor hot spring Onsens for you to visit during your time in Japan!

Onsen or hot spring culture is deep rooted in Japanese culture and traditions. There is a bathtub in most Japanese households and most Japanese people get in the hot bath every evening. Japanese people typically take showers before they enter the bathtub so the main purpose of taking a bath apparently is not about cleansing the body, but more about cleansing the mind and the fatigue.

When visiting Japan, experiencing Onsens or hot springs is a must. To elevate your Onsen experience, don’t just visit a normal hot spring. Visit unique Onsen hot springs and make it memorable!


Saki no yu
Wakayama Prefecture

This public open air bath is part of the Shirahama Hot Spring area. The bath is located about one meter from the ocean and the reachable splashes of the sea adds to the unique hot spring experience.

ℹ️ Information: https://en.visitwakayama.jp/venues/venue_44/
📍 Map: https://g.page/sakinoyu?share
🚗 Access: From JR Shirahama Station, take the Meiko Bus to Yuzaki bus stop and walk for 3 minutes

川湯温泉 仙人風呂
Kawayu Onsen Sennin Buro
Wakayama Prefecture

Between December to the end of February of each year, the town has a tradition of damming up part of the Oto River where hot spring bubbles up. This creates an enormous, free, open-air bath where visitors can come and enjoy the warmth in the cold winter.

ℹ️ Information: https://en.visitwakayama.jp/venues/venue_41/
📍 Map: https://goo.gl/maps/eZxkrqLfsXEPKcCXA
🚗 Access: From JR Kii-Tanabe Station, take the Ryujin Bus to Kawayu Onsen bus stop

アクアイグニス 片岡温泉
Aqua Ignis Kataoka Hot Spring
Mie Prefecture

This hot spring resort complex is themed around “healing” and “food”. The Kataoka Onsen is unique because it uses 100% natural hot spring water without adding any water, heat, or circulation. It has large modern baths both indoor and open-air outdoor with a view of beautifully lined bamboo trees.

Guests who seek extra healing can enjoy the “Bijin no yu” or the Beauty Hot Spring which has alkaline properties that makes the skin soft and smooth.

Delicious bakery, Italian dishes, and Japanese dishes made by famous chefs can be enjoyed here as well.

ℹ️ Information: https://aquaignis.jp/en/
📍 Map: https://goo.gl/maps/9omVzTP1t5xNqr3G6
🚗 Access: Take the Kintetsu Yunoyama train line and get off at Yunoyama-Onsen Station. It is an eight minute walk away.

Watarase Onsen
Wakayama Prefecture

This is a vast hot spring facility boasting three hotel wings and an open-air bath wing connected by a rope bridge suspended over the clear waters of the Yomura River.

The open-air bath is one of the largest in the Kansai Region, which can accommodate 500 bathers at a time! Private open-air baths can also be rented out for those who prefer a private experience.

ℹ️ Information: https://en.visitwakayama.jp/venues/venue_42/
📍 Map: https://goo.gl/maps/xSSTzpcV2KS3fezL9
🚗 Access: Take the train to Kii-Tanabe Station and then ride the bus to Wataze Onsen station.

龍神温泉 元湯
Ryujin Hot Springs
Wakayama Prefecture

This hot spring is known as one of Japan’s top three hot springs for beauty. It is nestled along the upstream torrent of the Hidakagawa river which makes it uniquely relaxing.

The indoor bath is made of Hinoki cypress and big rocks. The outdoor open-air bath is made of rocks and is situated along the mountain stream.

ℹ️ Information: https://www.tb-kumano.jp/en/places/ryujin/
📍 Map: https://goo.gl/maps/d7otNCk6jM6z2HTQA
🚗 Access: From JR Kii Tanabe Station, take the Ryūjin Bus

Byu Matsuho no Sato 
Hyogo Prefecture

This hot spring is located on a hill overlooking the deep blue Seto Inland Sea during the day, and the illuminated Akashi Kaikyo Bridge during the night.

There are both western and Japanese style hot springs with open-air outdoor baths to enjoy.

ℹ️ Information: http://matsuho.com/ (Only in Japanese)
📍 Map: https://goo.gl/maps/NQL5T8wM2ZaoELvb7
🚗 Access: By car

湯泉地温泉 滝の湯
Tosenji Onsen Takinoyu
Nara Prefecture

This hot spring facility was originally a traditional Japanese inn. There are both indoor and open-air outdoor baths that separate men and women.

What makes this onsen unique is that the outdoor bath offers a close-up view of the waterfall as you relax.

ℹ️ Information: https://japantravel.navitime.com/en/area/jp/spot/02301-14402610/
📍 Map: https://goo.gl/maps/rDmVgd86uZLS78Up8
🚗 Access: Take the train to Yamato Yagi station and ride the bus to Totsukawa-mura-yakuba bus stop. It is a 10 minutes walk away.

Hotel Urashima
Wakayama Prefecture

This hotel is part of the Katsuura Hot Spring town and allows day-trip bathing for visitors. What makes this hot spring unique is the famous Boukido hot spring which is located inside a natural cave that was made by the rough winds and waves of the Kumano Sea.

It is a magical hot spring where you can enjoy a magnificent view while soaking yourself in the hot spring water.

ℹ️ Information: http://www.hotelurashima.co.jp/en/
📍 Map: https://goo.gl/maps/VvmnPmTN6MPJfunY7
🚗 Access: Take the train to Kii-Katsura Station and walk 6 minutes to Katsuura Port. The hotel can be reached by a free ferry from the Sightseeing Pier at the port.


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