All About Japan

Japan’s 8 Most Gorgeous Ryokan Hot Springs

| Onsen , Ryokan

The central feature of a traditional Japanese inn—or ryokan—is the communal hot bath, typically drawn from a local hot spring, or onsen. You’ll need to brush up on your hot spring etiquette—and maybe even a few words of Japanese—but we’ll guarantee you these stunning ryokan onsen will make it worth the effort.

8. Shiosai-no-Yado Seikai (Oita)

Though the rooms at Seikai evoke a Japanese style, there’s also a strong Western sense to the furnishings, with terrace decks and carpeted living rooms. The baths, illuminated by the sun during the day and lanterns and moonlight at night, similarly incorporate Japanese and Western aesthetics, sitting somewhere between a private pool and an onsen. The ocean feels within arm’s reach as you soak up the sun and listen to the waves.

7. Yamamizuki (Kumamoto)

With a selection of both open-air and indoor baths, Yamamizuki offers relaxation in a number of environments. Both the men’s baths and the women’s baths provide a serene view of the surrounding nature, allowing guests to enjoy the natural waters of Kurokawa onsen hot spring. The rooms themselves are a delight, accentuating the “wa” beauty of shoji (paper screen) architecture.

6. Satoumitei Kinparo-Hontei (Ibaraki)

Float over the Pacific in baths styled like tidal pools. Satoumitei Kinparo-Hontei has only eight rooms, so the venue is cozy. While the water isn’t technically sourced from a natural onsen, it’s heated from the same source as the holy water at the adjacent Oarai Isosaki Shrine, which was founded in the year 856 and features a torii gate on a reef right that stands magnificently above the rising sun at dawn.

5. Akiu Onsen Hotel New Mitoya (Miyagi)

Boasting three expansive bathing areas with 16 medium-sized baths, Hotel New Mitoya eschews the “hotel” concept to follow wholeheartedly in the Japanese ryokan style. The tatami rooms are infused with a Western vibe, while the Japanese-style meals include a continental-style breakfast buffet. The facility is located in the center of the Akiu Onsen district, which has been famous for the healing qualities of its hot springs since the sixth century.

4. Dogashima New Ginsui Ryokan (Shizuoka)

The views from New Ginsui’s open-air baths provide a spectacular view of Suruga Bay under a dazzling seaside sun. Located within sight of Mount Fuji on a clear day, even the indoor baths don’t skimp on the view, outfitted with floor-to-ceiling windows that make you feel as though you’re relaxing in the glittering ocean beyond the windows—except in a much hotter and more soothing form. Indulge in a Japanese multi-course dinner, then head back to the baths to catch the sunset!

3. Bettei Senjuan (Gunma)

Nestled in the forested mountains of Gunma Prefecture, Bettei Senjuan offers idyllic views no matter the season of your visit. With both indoor and open-air baths overlooking dense tree cover, you can enjoy the view from inside your warm tub even when the land around is covered in snow. In addition to five Japanese-style rooms, this ryokan provides guests with the option of choosing a Western-style room with a private open-air hot bath.

2. Ohanami Kyubei (Ishikawa)

Take a soak in the large onsen baths at Ohanami Kyubei, and it’s easy to see why this ryokan received a Diamond ranking on Rakuten Travel in 2014. The view from inside the open-air wood-styled baths looks out across pristine Kaga mountains and forests, and guests can enjoy them as late as 11:00 pm. The hot spring from which the water is drawn was even favored by Japanese haiku master Matsuo Basho, who is said to have remarked, “If you visit this onsen, you don’t need the Elixir of Life.”

1. Shuku Kaifu Minamichita Yamami Onsen (Aichi)

Shuku Kaifu has an unbeatable view, with rooftop open-air hot spring baths accessible day and night for guests to enjoy the natural beauty of Aichi Prefecture while the ocean streches out below. Rooms listed further up the price list have their own private open-air hot baths attached to traditional Japanese tatami rooms.