Tsurunoyu Onsen   鶴の湯温泉

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Basins onsen Tsurunoyu, thatched roofs, and the colors of the maple trees in the background.

The wooden portico marking the entrance to Tsurunoyu Onsen.

This is particularly the winter lovers hot springs are found in Tsurunoyu.

A Magical Source

Tsurunoyu belongs to the hitoh (秘 湯),  or "secret onsens", hidden in the mountains, of which the fans jealously guard the addresses ...

A hunter, who accidently injured a crane, had the idea of ​​plunging it into the milky water of a hot spring, which allowed the bird to heal its wounds and set off again. That is the legend and the origin of the name Tsurunoyu ("The hot source of the crane"), a mountain onsen used since the early seventeenth century. It is even said that the lords of the Akita domain were regular visitors.

Tsurunoyu is now part of Nyuto Onsen, a group of eight "old fashioned" spas, which are secret and dispersed northeast of Lake Tazawa, on the slopes of Mount Nyutozan between Morioka and Akita.

Today, Tsurunoyu is not really secret any more. But the source, which is the oldest in Nyuto, has retained its old-world charm. Its main building is still partly lit by oil lamps, and has kept a mixed pool (konyoku), which was the case of all Japanese hot springs until the Western puritanism made them lose this ancient habit.

It is particularly in winter that hot spring fans head to Tsurunoyu to see the snowflakes (the climate is very rigorous from November to March), relax in the hot water, admire the pine branches covered with snow, and taste regional dishes like no yama imo (mountain potato).

To spend a little more than a day, Tsurunoyu has half board ryokan (15,000 yen/ night). Or you can also choose the Yamanoyado ("the mountain inn"), another charming establishment nearby.

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