Best Onsen in Japan

Last Updated: April 24,2024

Japan is renowned for its onsen (hot springs), offering a relaxing and rejuvenating experience. Where is the best place for onsen in Japan? Here is our ultimate guide on the best onsen in Japan, including the best onsen town in Japan, the best onsen resort in Japan, the best onsen village in Japan, the best onsen in Japan in winter, the best onsen hotel in Japan, and the best ryokan onsen in Japan. Let's start reviewing all the "best" for the Japan Onsen here.

Table of Contents

1. Best Onsen Towns in Japan

2. Best Onsen Resorts in Japan

3. Best Onsen Village in Japan

4. Best Onsen in Winter Japan

5. Best Private Onsen in Japan

6. Best Onsen Ryokan in Japan

7. Best Onsen Hotels in Japan

8. Onsen Ryokan vs. Onsen Hotel in Japan

1. Best Onsen Towns in Japan

Japan boasts numerous onsen (hot spring) towns, each offering a unique atmosphere, beautiful natural surroundings, and relaxing thermal baths. Here are the best onsen towns in Japan:

Kinosaki Onsen: Situated in Hyogo Prefecture, Kinosaki Onsen is famous for its seven public bathhouses, which are connected by a charming willow-lined canal. Visitors can stroll around town in yukata (light cotton kimono) and geta (wooden sandals) while hopping from one bathhouse to another, which is a delightful experience, especially on snowy winter evenings. It is one of the best winter onsen towns in Japan.

Beppu Onsen Town

Beppu: Known as one of Japan's most famous onsen towns and one of the best onsen towns in Japan, Beppu in Oita Prefecture boasts a variety of different types of hot springs, including mud baths and sand baths. The "Hells of Beppu" in the Beppu Onsen Town are a popular tourist attraction, featuring several colorful hot springs with unique characteristics.

Ginzan Onsen: Nestled in the mountains of Yamagata Prefecture, this charming onsen town is characterized by its traditional wooden buildings, stone-paved streets, and the soft glow of lanterns illuminating the riverside at night. This Onsen town in Japan gained widespread recognition after being featured in the anime series "Spirited Away." Visitors can enjoy strolling along the riverbank, soaking in outdoor baths, and indulging in local cuisine at cozy ryokan and restaurants.

Ibusuki: Located on the southern tip of Kyushu, Ibusuki is famous for its unique sand baths, where visitors are buried in naturally heated sand to relax and detoxify. This Japan hot spring town also offers traditional onsen facilities and stunning views of Sakurajima volcano across the bay.

Nasu-Shiobara: This onsen town Japan in Tochigi Prefecture is surrounded by lush greenery and mountains, offering a peaceful retreat from city life. Visitors can enjoy soaking in outdoor baths while enjoying the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape.

Shibu Onsen: Located in the Nagano Prefecture, Shibu Onsen is a historic hot spring town known for its traditional atmosphere and picturesque setting. The town is characterized by narrow streets lined with ryokans. One of the unique features of Shibu Onsen is the "onsen-hopping" tradition, where guests can visit multiple public baths, each with its own unique mineral composition and health benefits. There are nine public baths in total, and guests staying at certain ryokans are provided with a key to access them. It is said to be the best onsen in Japan during winter when you head to Nagano for skiing as there are so many famous and popular skiing resorts nearby Shibu Onsen.

These onsen towns in Japan offer not only relaxation but also cultural experiences, and opportunities to explore Japan's natural beauty. Each hot spring town has its own unique charm and attractions, offering its own bathing experiences and therapeutic benefits, making them best onsen places in Japan that are worth visiting for any traveler seeking rejuvenation and tranquility.

2. Best Onsen Resorts in Japan

When it comes to the Japanese onsen, you may also hear of some onsen resorts. Which is the best Onsen resort in Japan? Keep reading our guide on the best onsen in Japan here to find more reviews on Japanese Onsen resorts.

Kusatsu Onsen Resort

Kusatsu: Known for its high-quality, sulfuric waters, Kusatsu Onsen is one of the most famous hot spring resorts and the best Onsen Resorts in Japan. The Yubatake (hot water field) is a prominent feature, and many ryokans are offering authentic onsen experiences in Kusatsu onsen resort. If you cannot find the best onsen in Tokyo Japan, don't miss the Kusatsu Onsen, which is one of the popular onsen destinations near Tokyo.

Noboribetsu: Located in Hokkaido, Noboribetsu is famous for its Hell Valley (Jigokudani) and the healing waters of its onsen resort. This Japan hot springs resort offers a variety of indoor and outdoor baths, as well as foot baths, allowing visitors to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of the Noboribetsu Onsen. It is also the best onsen in Japan during winter when you tour Hokkaido for a skiing experience.

Yufuin: Situated in Oita Prefecture on Kyushu Island, Yufuin offers a more tranquil alternative to nearby Beppu. The best Japan onsen resort is known for its scenic landscapes, including Mount Yufu, and elegant ryokan. Visitors can enjoy leisurely walks, browsing boutiques, and soaking in the healing waters of the Yufuin onsen.

Shirahama: Located in Wakayama Prefecture, Shirahama is known for its beautiful white sand beaches and hot springs in Japan. Visitors can relax in onsen overlooking the ocean and enjoy the resort's seaside attractions. Shirahama is one of the best onsen areas in Japan.

Yamanaka: Nestled in the scenic countryside of the Yamanaka region, this best Japanese onsen resort offers a peaceful retreat with its traditional ryokan and hot spring baths. Many of the ryokans in the area feature outdoor baths where guests can soak while enjoying views of the surrounding nature. This onsen resort is surrounded by lush forests and sits beside the picturesque Kakusenkei Gorge, adding to its tranquil ambiance. Visitors can enjoy strolling along the gorge's walking paths, admiring the seasonal Japan foliage, and relaxing in the soothing waters of the Yamanaka onsen.

Arima Onsen: Situated in Hyogo Prefecture, Arima Onsen is one of the oldest and most renowned hot spring resorts and the best Onsen resorts in Japan, without any doubt. It's divided into two main areas: Kita (North) Arima and Minami (South) Arima, each offering its own unique hot spring waters. Kinsen (gold water) and Ginsen (silver water) are the two types of springs found here, known for their distinct healing properties, including relieving muscle and joint pain. Visitors to Arima Onsen can enjoy soaking in a variety of baths, including public baths, ryokan baths, and foot baths scattered throughout this Japan onsen resort.

All of these onsen resorts reviewed are the best places in Japan for onsen, with each providing a unique experience, combining relaxation, natural beauty, and Japanese hospitality.

3. Best Onsen Village in Japan

The best onsen village Japan for you will depend on factors such as location, scenery, the type of hot springs available, and the overall atmosphere you desire for your onsen experience. In the mind of those Onsen lovers, Gero Onsen is the best Onsen village in Japan.

Located in Gifu Prefecture, Gero Onsen is one of Japan's top three onsens and its "onsen hopping" experience is as famous as that of in Kurokawa Onsen, where visitors can try multiple public baths. It is celebrated for its therapeutic waters and stunning mountainous surroundings. This historic onsen village in Japan has been frequented by travelers for over a millennium. The onsen waters are renowned for their healing properties, said to alleviate various ailments such as fatigue, muscle pain, and skin conditions.

One of the distinguishing features of Gero Onsen is its "three different waters" concept: the "clear water" (shioyu), "black water" (kuroyu), and "milky white water" (shirayu). Each type of water contains different mineral compositions and offers distinct health benefits. Visitors can experience these varied baths at the numerous ryokan and public bathhouses scattered throughout this Japan onsen village, including the Gassho Village with traditional thatched-roof houses.

The surrounding Hida Mountains provide a beautiful backdrop for relaxation, which is also one of the reasons why Gero Onsen is popular among all the onsen villages Japan.

4. Best Onsen in Winter Japan

Most of the tourists choose to experience the Japanese Onsen in winter, as they will feel very warm in the hot and soothing spring waters in the cold weather. And it will be a wonderful experience to soak in the outdoor bath while enjoying the snow-covered scenery. Which is the best onsen in winter Japan? Let me show you here.

Nyuto Onsen

Nyuto Onsen: Situated in Akita Prefecture, Nyuto Onsen is a collection of several rustic hot spring ryokans nestled in the mountains. As one of the best onsen areas in Japan, Nyuto Onsen area is particularly atmospheric in winter, with snow-covered landscapes and secluded baths surrounded by snowy forests.

Hakone Onsen: Hakone is a popular hot spring destination and the best onsen in Japan near Tokyo, offering stunning views of Mount Fuji and Lake Ashi. In winter, visitors can enjoy soaking in the therapeutic waters while gazing at the snow-capped peak of Mount Fuji and taking in the snowy scenery during the winter months.

Shibu Onsen: Nestled in the mountains of Nagano Prefecture, Shibu Onsen features the 9 public bathhouses tour experience for visitors. In winter, the town transforms into a magical winter wonderland, with snow-covered buildings and steam rising from the hot spring waters. And you can find the best winter onsen ryokan in Japan in Shibu Onsen. Shibu Onsen also serves as a gateway to the nearby Jigokudani Monkey Park, where visitors can observe wild Japanese macaques (snow monkeys) relaxing in natural hot springs amidst the snowy landscape. In addition, you can also go skiing at its nearby skiing resort Shiga Kogen. This combination of serene hot spring bathing, unique wildlife viewing, and skiing makes Shibu Onsen a must-visit onsen destination for winter travelers in Japan.

Zao Onsen: Situated at the base of Mount Zao in Yamagata Prefecture, Zao Onsen is famous for its "snow monsters" - trees covered in snow and ice, resembling mythical creatures, which makes it the best Onsen in Japan winter. Visitors can soak in the hot springs while admiring these natural wonders during the winter months. It is also famous for its milky-white sulfuric waters and ski resorts. Guests can relax in the hot springs after a day of skiing or snowboarding in winter.

Noboribetsu Onsen: Located in Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost island, Noboribetsu Onsen offers stunning winter scenery alongside its therapeutic hot springs. The area is surrounded by snow-capped mountains, creating a picturesque setting for relaxation. This best onsen in Japan is known for its high-quality sulfuric water and various types of baths, including open-air baths surrounded by snow-covered landscapes. Jigokudani (Hell Valley) is a particularly popular attraction, especially in winter when the contrast between the boiling hot springs and the icy surroundings is most striking.

Nozawa Onsen: Found in Nagano Prefecture, Nozawa Onsen is a cozy Japan onsen village known for its natural hot springs. In winter, it's covered in snow, making it a picturesque destination. People love skiing and snowboarding here, and after a day on the slopes, they relax in the hot springs. Nozawa Onsen has public outdoor baths, which are free for everyone to enjoy. It's a great spot for a traditional Japanese onsen experience during the winter months.

For those who seek outdoor exploration, such as going skiing, it will really be the ultimate comfort when dipping into the onsen bath after skiing during the day. Just relax in the best onsen in winter Japan.

5. Best Private Onsen in Japan

In Japan, when soaking in the Onsen bath, people are required to be naked, without any bathing suit on. Some foreign visitors may feel shy and feel somehow uncomfortable when dipping into the public baths. In this case, private onsens in Japan may be better for you. Here are some more notable Japan private onsen options. Are you ready to soak in the best private onsen in Japan?

Private Onsen in Japan

Hoshinoya Kyoto (Kyoto): Situated along the Oi River in Kyoto, Hoshinoya Kyoto is a top-rated luxury ryokan offering private open-air baths called "rotenburo." Guests can enjoy the tranquility of the natural surroundings while soaking in the therapeutic waters in this ryokan in Japan with private onsen.

Address: 11-2 Arashiyama Genrokuzancho, Nishikyo Ward, Kyoto, 616-0007, Japan

Araya Totoan (Nikko): Nestled in the mountains of Nikko, Araya Totoan provides a traditional Japanese ryokan experience with private outdoor baths overlooking the lush forest. This traditional onsen ryokan in Japan features elegant accommodations and exquisite kaiseki cuisine.

Address: 18-119 Yamashiroonsen, Kaga, Ishikawa 922-0242, Japan

Yufuin Hanayoshi (Yufuin): Located in the picturesque Onsen town of Yufuin in Kyushu, Yufuin Hanayoshi offers private hot spring baths with panoramic views of Mount Yufu. Guests can relax in the therapeutic waters while enjoying the peaceful ambiance of the countryside in this onsen hotel in Japan.

Address: Japan, 〒879-5114 Oita, Yufu, 湯布院町川北913−11

Hakone Kowakien TEN-YU (Hakone): This modern ryokan in Hakone offers stylish accommodations with private open-air baths overlooking the surrounding forest. Guests can enjoy a blend of traditional Japanese hospitality and contemporary amenities during their stay at this Japan private onsen hotel.

Address: 1297 Ninotaira, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa 250-0407, Japan

Noboribetsu Sekisuitei (Hokkaido): Noboribetsu Sekisuitei is an Onsen Ryokan located in the famous hot spring town of Noboribetsu. It offers luxurious accommodations and private outdoor baths surrounded by lush vegetation, providing a serene and rejuvenating experience.

Address: 203-1 Noboribetsuonsencho, Noboribetsu, Hokkaido 059-0596, Japan

Ryokan Hakone Ginyu (Kanagawa Prefecture): Hakone Ginyu is a luxury ryokan nestled in the hills of Hakone. As one of the best onsen hotels in Japan, it offers spacious suites with private open-air baths overlooking the scenic Hakone landscape, allowing guests to unwind in style and comfort.

Address: 100-1 Miyanoshita, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa 250-0404, Japan

Each Japan private onsen hotel reviewed here combines traditional Japanese hospitality with the therapeutic benefits of hot spring baths for you to better experience the private onsen Japan.

6. Best Onsen Ryokan in Japan

Selecting the best onsen ryokan in Japan can be subjective as it depends on individual preferences, including location, amenities, atmosphere, and budget. However, there are several renowned ryokan onsen establishments that consistently receive high praise from visitors, check out the one to experience the best Ryokan onsen in Japan.

Ryokan in Japan with Private Onsen

Gora Kadan (Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture): Nestled in the scenic Hakone region, Gora Kadan offers luxurious accommodations with traditional Japanese aesthetics, exquisite kaiseki cuisine, and multiple hot spring baths. This is the best luxury onsen ryokan in Japan to enjoy the soothing Hakone Onsen.

Address: 1300 Gora, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa 250-0408, Japan

Arashiyama Benkei (Kyoto): Located in the historic Arashiyama district of Kyoto, Arashiyama Benkei offers a tranquil retreat with elegantly appointed rooms, gourmet dining, and access to natural hot spring baths. This is the best traditional onsen ryokan in Japan to experience the Arashiyama Onsen in Kyoto.

Address: Japan, 〒616-8385 Kyoto, Ukyo Ward, Sagatenryuji Susukinobabacho, 34

Nishimuraya Honkan (Kinosaki Onsen, Hyogo Prefecture): This ryokan in the picturesque town of Kinosaki Onsen features spacious guest rooms, authentic Japanese cuisine, and multiple hot spring baths, including outdoor rotenburo overlooking the surrounding scenery. This is the best Ryokan with onsen in Japan to experience the Kinosaki Hot Springs.

Address: 469 Kinosakicho Yushima, Toyooka, Hyogo 669-6101, Japan

Tawaraya Ryokan (Kyoto): With a history dating back over 300 years, Tawaraya Ryokan is a legendary ryokan in Kyoto known for its impeccable service, traditional architecture, and serene ambiance. Some of its rooms feature private indoor and outdoor baths where guests can unwind in privacy after exploring the city. And they can also enjoy seasonal kaiseki meals here. This is the best affordable onsen Ryokan in Japan to experience Kyoto Hot Springs.

Address: 278 Nakahakusancho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8094, Japan

Yufuin Tamanoyu (Yufuin, Oita Prefecture): Yufuin Tamanoyu is the best ryokan in Japan with private onsen that is located in the charming hot spring town of Yufuin. It features elegant Japanese-style rooms, delicious seasonal cuisine, and relaxing hot spring baths with views of Mount Yufu. It is the best private onsen ryokan in Japan to enjoy the Yufuin Hot Springs.

Address: Japan, 〒879-5102 Oita, Yufu, Yufuincho Kawakami, 2731-1 湯の坪

Guntu (Seto Inland Sea): For a unique experience, consider Guntu, a luxury cruise ship that travels around the Seto Inland Sea. Guests can relax in their own private onsen baths while enjoying panoramic views of the sea and coastline. This is Japan's First Floating Ryokan with private onsen.

Besides, there are many more exceptional onsen ryokans throughout Japan. Tell us your preference and budget and we will arrange the best Ryokan with private onsen in Japan that best suits your needs.

7. Best Onsen Hotels in Japan

Some tourists may not be accustomed to the tatami mat floors and hope for a Western-style hotel with an onsen facility. Here comes the question: what is the best onsen hotel in Japan? Following are the best hotels in Japan with private onsen.

Shinanoki Ichinoyu (Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture): Shinanoki Ichinoyu is one of the best hotels in Japan with private onsen nestled in the scenic Hakone area, known for its picturesque views of Mount Fuji and serene atmosphere. The hotel features indoor and outdoor hot spring baths, including private open-air baths, where guests can relax while enjoying the surrounding natural beauty so that you can enjoy the best onsen in Hakone Japan. Shinanoki Ichinoyu also offers cozy Japanese-style accommodations, delicious kaiseki meals, and attentive hospitality. With its tranquil setting and therapeutic hot spring waters, Shinanoki Ichinoyu provides guests with a peaceful retreat amidst Hakone's stunning landscapes.

Address: 940-2 Sengokuhara, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa 250-0631, Japan

Fuji View Hotel (Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi Prefecture): Set near Mount Fuji, Fuji View Hotel offers stunning views of the iconic peak and the surrounding Fuji Five Lakes area. The hotel provides comfortable rooms with traditional Japanese decor and modern amenities. Guests can unwind in indoor and outdoor hot spring baths to experience the Fuji Kawaguchiko Onsen while enjoying the panoramic vistas of Mount Fuji. Dining options include Japanese and international cuisine. Recreational activities like tennis, golf, and hiking are also available. Fuji View Hotel offers a memorable stay in the scenic beauty of Japan's famous mountain.

Address: 511 Katsuyama, Fujikawaguchiko, Minamitsuru District, Yamanashi 401-0310, Japan

Togetsutei Hotel (Arashiyama, Kyoto): Overlooking the scenic Arashiyama area along the Hozu River, Togetsutei Hotel offers a serene retreat in the heart of Kyoto. The hotel features traditional Japanese-style accommodations with tatami flooring and futon bedding, providing guests with an authentic ryokan experience. Togetsutei Hotel also boasts an onsen facility where guests can relax in indoor and outdoor hot spring baths while enjoying views of the surrounding natural beauty. With its tranquil ambiance and convenient location near Arashiyama's attractions, Togetsutei Hotel offers guests a peaceful escape amidst Kyoto's cultural heritage.

Address: 54-4 Arashiyama Nakaoshitacho, Nishikyo Ward, Kyoto, 616-0004, Japan

Hida Hanasatonoyu Takayama Ouan (Takayama, Gifu Prefecture): Hida Hanasatonoyu Takayama Ouan is located in the historic city of Takayama, known for its beautifully preserved traditional architecture and culture. The hotel offers a relaxing escape in the heart of the Japanese Alps. Guests can indulge in the therapeutic hot spring baths, including indoor and outdoor options, which are fed by natural mineral-rich waters. The traditional Japanese-style accommodations blend modern comforts with authentic design elements, providing a serene retreat after exploring Takayama's charming streets. The hotel's dining experiences feature seasonal specialties from the Hida region, offering guests a taste of local cuisine.

Address: 4-313 Hanasato-machi, Takayama, Gifu, 506-0026, Japan

Arima Grand Hotel (Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture): Situated in the historic onsen town of Arima Onsen, Arima Grand Hotel is renowned for its therapeutic hot springs and luxurious amenities. Guests can relax in various indoor and outdoor baths, including the famous "golden" and "silver" hot springs, and indulge in gourmet cuisine prepared with locally sourced ingredients.

Address: 1304-1 Arimacho, Kita Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 651-1401, Japan

Noboribetsu Grand Hotel (Noboribetsu, Hokkaido): Located in Hokkaido's renowned Noboribetsu Onsen area, this expansive hotel offers a wide range of hot spring baths, including sulfur-rich waters known for their healing properties. The hotel also features comfortable guest rooms, multiple dining options, and recreational facilities such as a golf course and tennis courts.

Address: 154 Noboribetsuonsencho, Noboribetsu, Hokkaido 059-0551, Japan

Onsen hotels in Japan provide more comfort in addition to experiencing the Japanese hot springs, which will let you have a good sleep after a tiring day trip. For those whose sleep quality is not very good but also hope to dip into the Onsen in Japan, it is better for you to choose a suitable and comfortable Onsen hotel among these recommended best Onsen hotels in Japan.

8. Difference between Onsen Ryokan and Onsen Hotel in Japan

In Japan, both Onsen Ryokan and Onsen Hotels offer guests the opportunity to enjoy hot springs (onsen), but they differ in terms of their overall atmosphere, accommodations, and style.

Onsen Ryokan in Japan

Onsen Ryokan in Japan:

A ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn that often offers a more authentic cultural experience. Ryokans typically have a traditional Japanese design, with tatami mat floors, sliding doors (fusuma), and minimalist furnishings.

Onsen ryokans in Japan emphasize a more intimate and traditional experience, often located in scenic areas such as mountains or rural regions. They tend to be smaller in scale compared to hotels, offering a more personalized service.

Guests staying at an onsen ryokan can expect to experience Japanese hospitality (omotenashi) firsthand, with attentive service, seasonal kaiseki meals (traditional multi-course dinners), and often private or communal bathing areas fed by natural hot springs.

Onsen Hotel in Japan:

Onsen hotels, on the other hand, are more similar to Western-style hotels in terms of their layout and amenities. They may offer a range of room types from standard hotel rooms to suites, often featuring modern amenities such as TVs, air conditioning, and Wi-Fi.

While onsen hotels in Japan also have hot spring facilities, they may have a more contemporary design aesthetic and larger-scale operations compared to ryokans. Some onsen hotels cater to a broader range of guests, including families and international travelers.

The dining options in onsen hotels might include a mix of Japanese and international cuisine, and while they may offer kaiseki meals, they might not always be as traditional or elaborate as those served in ryokans.

In summary, the main differences between an onsen ryokan and an onsen hotel lie in their overall ambiance, style, and the cultural experience they offer. Ryokans prioritize traditional Japanese hospitality and design, while onsen hotels may offer more modern amenities and cater to a wider range of guests. Both provide the opportunity to enjoy the rejuvenating experience of bathing in natural hot springs. For an extremely enjoyable onsen experience in Japan, don't miss the Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku, which combines ryokan and onsen, and it is best known for its gorgeous and serene scenic views in autumn.


There are many best places for onsen in Japan. If you contact our travel expertswhether you're seeking the traditional charm of an onsen ryokan, the modern luxury of an onsen hotel, or the stunning natural landscapes of the onsen towns, onsen resorts, and onsen villages in Japan, we will always choose an onsen destination in Japan to suit your preference among the best onsens in Japan.

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