Five onsen for winter   雪見露天風呂

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Snow and hot spring, contrast typical of Japanese onsen.

Snow and hot springs, a contrast typical of Japanese onsen.

In a magical setting, hot springs (onsen) are more to enjoy a Japanese experience.

In a magical setting, hot springs (onsen) are more to enjoy a Japanese experience.

Warm water

When the cold sets in, what could be better than slipping into a relaxing hot spring bath? When it comes to onsen - Japan is full of them!

For those visiting Japan in winter, here is a selection of outdoor hot springs, or rotenburo, that offer unique views of snow-covered landscapes. Enjoy the unique experience of taking a bath amid the snow!

Obviously this list isn't exhaustive, and no matter which region of Japan you decide to visit you will inevitably be able to find an onsen to relax in during your trip. Winter makes the experience even more unforgettable, so it's definitely a must-try if you plan to visit Japan at this time.


NOBORIBESTU ONSEN (HOKKAIDO)

We can't talk about winter without immediately thinking of Hokkaido. Noboribetsu is one of Japan's most popular onsen, known for offering many types of baths, each with different properties. Indeed, the nine varieties of water that you will find in this hot spring have various healing properties. If you are prone to back pain, skin problems or poor circulation, you will inevitably find a bath to soothe your ailments.


MANZA ONSEN (GUNMA)

Located high in the mountains, Manza onsen is ideally located near a ski resort. What a way to relax your muscles after a long day of exercise! Manza hot springs are known to be rich in sulfur, which relieves joint pain and benefits the skin and respiratory tract.

To read: Discover the Japanese Alps


Natural hot springs in Noribetsu, Hokkaido

KITA ONSEN (TOCHIGI)

About 2.5 hours drive north of Tokyo, you will find one of the oldest hot springs in the country. Legend has it that a tengu (demon of Japanese folklore) discovered the site of Kita Onsen 1,200 years ago. Though the area is less snowy, allow yourself to be transported by its history and the charm of the Meiji era.

See also: Japanese ghosts and monsters


GINZAN ONSEN (YAMAGATA)

If you prefer the scenery to the water's health benefits, go to Yamagata, where the old city covered with snow is something straight from a postcard. You can enjoy an onsen bath at the hotel whether you're staying as a guest or not, so don't hesitate to come and relax even if you're just passing through!


SHIBU ONSEN (NAGANO)

You've probably already seen pictures of monkeys relaxing in steaming water, surrounded by snow. It is in Nagano that you can admire this charming scene, at the Jigokudani monkey park. Of course, visitors aren't allowed to actually bathe with the macaques, but you can enjoy other hot springs at the many ryokan of Shibu Onsen.


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