Wash away your stress in the hot springs in Saitama
Let’s relax in an open-air bath surrounded by nature in the countryside just north of Tokyo!
A great way to relieve all your stress is to soak in one of Japan’s many hot springs “Onsen”.
Some hot springs are believed to have healing benefits such as promoting better sleep, aiding circulation, and clearing the complexion.
Many hot springs also have private baths (extra fee) for anyone who may not feel comfortable in a public bath or anyone who may just want to relax alone.
Though many people may find it a bit embarrassing at first to bathe with others it’s an experience you’ll probably wish you’d tried sooner.
Today let’s take a little tour of a few hot springs in Saitama prefecture approximately an hour north of Tokyo.
If you’ve never been to a hot spring in Japan or aren’t sure exactly what to do here’s a mini hot spring etiquette guide for you. Almost all hot springs have separate sections for men and women.
＜Mini hot spring etiquette guide＞
1. If you’ve been given a key with a number on it look for the locker with the same number. If you weren’t given a key then just choose any available locker (some places only provide baskets). Please be sure to put your valuables in a safe place so you don’t need to worry about them.
2. Leave your clothes and jewellery in your locker. You can bring a hand towel with you into the baths but please don’t put it in the water.
3. Find an empty washing nook. Most hot springs will provide body wash, shampoo, and conditioner for customers but you can also bring your own if you prefer. Wash your body and be sure to wash off all traces of soap/shampoo. (If you have long hair please tie it up before entering the baths.)
4. Choose any bath you like and relax. Some baths are hotter than others so be sure to try a few. Don’t forget to try the open-air baths.
5. Be careful not to get overheated. There are usually cold water pools you can dip in or just splash over yourself and drinking fountains can usually be found near the door to the changing rooms.
6. Once you’ve finished your bath dry off and get dressed. Usually, you can find hair dryers in the changing rooms free to use.
7. If you were given a key be sure to return it to the front desk before leaving the hot spring.
See the guide below for more details.
Kawaranoyu (Ogawa town)
For our first stop let’s visit Kawaranoyu.
When you arrive at the hot spring you can choose from a few different plans: simple, full relaxation, and full relaxation plus stone sauna room.
If you purchase one of the full plans you can borrow a “Yukata” （cotton kimono：they have a variety of colours and patterns so you can choose your favourite) for a more memorable experience.
The water at Kawaranoyu is listed as a high alkaline ph level 10.0 hot spring and is said to promote beautiful skin.
There are several different baths you can try and many of them are open-air baths so you can relax surrounded by nature. As the day changes to night the atmosphere of the open-air baths transforms to a scene where gentle lights glow upon the steaming water.
If you’d rather not bathe with others you can hire out a room with a private bath for a few hours as well (additional charges).
Once you’ve finished relaxing in the baths put on your yukata and try some delicious Japanese cuisine made with local ingredients.
Many of the dishes are beautifully arranged in small boxes or on small plates. Whether you prefer fish, meat, vegetables, or noodles there’s bound to be something to tempt you. Don’t forget to sample some of the locally produced beverages.
After you’ve bathed and eaten take a walk along the outdoor walkway. It’s the perfect place to take pictures wearing yukata with your friends or family or just sit out and enjoy the scenery. If you’d rather stay inside take a seat in the lounge where you can chat with friends, enjoy some music, or just relax in front of the fire.
They also hold different events throughout the year including cultural displays and musical performances so be sure to ask if there are any special events on while you’re there.
You can even spend the night in the inn next to the hot spring if one day isn’t long enough.
Kawaranoyu is located just a 10 min walk from Ogawamachi station (Saitama) on the Tobu-Tojo line from Ikebukuro station (approx. 1 hr). There’s also a car park available if you plan on driving.
Address：2 Kakuyama, Ogawa town, Hiki district, Saitama prefecture
Access：About 10 minutes walk from “Ogawamachi Station” on the Tobu-Tojo Line.
URL：https://www.kawaranoyu.jp/ogawa (currently available in Japanese only)
Taishoukaku (Hanno city)
If you’re searching for a place to escape from the hustle and bustle of the modern world Taishoukaku is the perfect place to slip away.
This hotel and hot spring is tucked away in the mountains and has everything you’ll need to relax in style. There are guest rooms decorated with a traditional Japanese flair and picturesque views of nature if you fancy an overnight getaway.
Even if you only plan to spend a few hours there’s plenty to keep you occupied. You might even find yourself staying longer than planned.
When you check-in you’ll be given a yukata to wear around the facility. You can just enjoy the public baths or rent a private bath as well without having to stay the night. The main public baths are located on the fifth floor and overlook the trees surrounding the building. On a clear night you can even enjoy the open-air bath under a starlit sky.
If you’re feeling a bit peckish you’ll be eager to wander over to Yamanochaya (just across the lane) for some delicious charcoal grilled local cuisine. The menu ranges from luxurious set courses to reasonable soba or udon noodles.
Within the hotel you’ll find lots of keep yourself occupied such as lounges, a bar, and a library. Right next to the library is a children’s play area filled with toys to keep little ones interested.
As it’s adjoining the library adults can relax with a book or just sit back and have a drink while their children play within sight. If you prefer a quiet game they have many you can borrow in the lounges and also the bar.
Take advantage of the beautiful scenery surrounding the hotel.There’s a stream that runs alongside the hotel and during the day the sounds of birds singing can be heard over the gentle babbling water.
Let all your stress float away as you immerse yourself in the lush green mountains. At night the hotel is lit up giving off an appearance of a fantasy wonderland.
Don’t forget to have a look at the locally produced souvenirs for sale before heading to your next destination.
If you’re using public transportation and are wondering how you could get deep into the mountains without a car they offer a free shuttle bus from Hanno station (reservation required).
Just take the train from Ikebukuro station to Hanno station and they will meet you there. There is also a free car park available if you are travelling by car. For more information please click on the link below.
Address：917 Shimonaguri, Hanno city, Saitama prefecture
Access：Free shuttle bus 30 minutes from Hanno Station South exit on the Seibu Shinjuku Line.（Reservations are required for the shuttle bus.）
Japanese ryokan Tokigawa (Tokigawa town)
This tiny hot spring has been featured on television many times and is often called the most alkaline hot spring in Japan. It has a high ph level of 11.3 and is believed to be extremely beneficial to the skin. It’s known throughout Japan as a “hot spring of beautiful skin”.
There are only two plans and rooms with a private bath available to hire for four hours each (afternoon or evening only). The room price includes a private bath, set meal, and ceremonial green tea with yuzu dessert.
If you’re looking for ways to keep your skin looking healthy you’ll want to reserve a spot here before you arrive in Japan.
＜Japanese ryokan Tokigawa＞
Address：537 Ono, Tokigawa town, Hiki district, Saitama prefecture
Access：17 minutes by taxi from “Myokaku Station” on the JR Hachiko Line
URL：https://www.tokigawa.net/top (currently available in Japanese only)
Miyamoto-no-yu (Ogano town)
Welcome to Miyamoto-no-yu, the hot spring where you can feel the spirit of sumo wrestling come alive. The owner is a former sumo wrestler who is more than happy to share his love of sumo wrestling with others.
Throughout the facility you’ll find many things related to sumo such as uniforms, memorabilia, and chanko nabe (a type of hot pot favoured by sumo wrestlers). Even the open-air bath is styled to resemble a sumo ring!
If you are interested in sumo wrestling or just want to take part in a unique experience only to be found in Japan look no further.
They offer a free shuttle bus from Seibu Chichibu station just 80 mins away from Ikebukuro station. (Make a reservation for with a plan with a free shuttle bus transportation. Reservation required.)
Take a look at their website for more information.
Address：495-1 Nagaru, Ogano town, Chichibu district, Saitama prefecture
Access：Get off at “Seibu-Chichibu Station” on the Seibu-Chichibu Line after getting off at “Matsuida” by bus, and 5 minutes walk.
URL：http://miyamotonoyu.jp/ (Japanese site)
Hyakkannon Onsen (Kuki city)
If you want to be able to try out a wide variety of hot springs at the same facility Hyakkannon Onsen is one stop you can’t miss.
They have several different types of baths including carbonated baths, sleeping baths (the level of water is very low so you can lie down), as well as private baths you can rent separately.
If you take a look at their website you can see some clips of the different baths available.
Address：2-19-1 Nishiowa, Kuki city, Saitama prefecture
Access： walk for 3 minutes from “Higashi-Washinomiya Station” on the JR Utsunomiya Line
URL：http://100kannon.com/ (currently available in Japanese only)
Ofuro Café Hakujyu no yu (Kamikawa town)
This hot spring is filled with mineral-rich baths believed to contain many healing properties for various ailments. There’s also a café where you can taste some of the local specialties with a focus on creating healthy meals.
Once you’ve enjoyed the baths and eaten your fill take a moment to sit back in one of the round sofas sunken into the floor to create your own little space. You can also borrow a magazine or book from the shelves stacked from floor to ceiling. Before you leave make sure to take a quick look at all the souvenirs in the gift shop. You might just find the perfect present for someone back home.
＜Ofuro Café Hakujyu no yu＞
Address：337-1 Wataruse, Kamikawa town, Kodama district, Saitama prefecture
Access：Take a bus at “Honjo station South exit” near JR Hachiko Line Honjo station, and after getting off at “Shimowataruse Asahi Kogyo Mae” by bus and walk 4 minutes.
URL:https://ofurocafe-hakujyu.com (currently available in Japanese only)
Everyone knows that travelling can be a stressful experience so be sure to schedule some time to relax in one of Japan’s many hot springs.
There are so many types of hot springs with different health/relaxation benefits you’re sure to find one you’ll want to visit over and over.
Take pictures with your friends or family wearing yukata while enjoying traditional Japanese cuisine after letting the stress of the world wash away as you unwind in the healing waters of Japan’s hot springs.