Hot springs Tokyo day trips: Relaxation within reach

By Akira Shimizu

November 2, 2023

Woman in a hot spring bath, water flowing into a bath,

Greetings! I'm Akira Shimizu, a 31-year-old Nagoya native who has had the privilege of calling Tokyo home for the past six years. Today, I'm excited to introduce you to one of Tokyo's best-kept secrets—hot springs day trips, a delightful addition to your Tokyo tours.

Just outside of Tokyo, you'll discover hidden gems that offer a serene escape from the city's hustle and bustle. Join me as we delve into the world of onsen towns. I'm here to serve as your guide, helping you plan your onsen adventure with insights into costs and essentials. Together, we'll embark on a journey to uncover the natural hot springs offering easy day trips from Tokyo.

  • Onsen experiences in Tokyo
  • Getting to hot springs from Tokyo
  • Tokyo's best onsen day trips
  • Hakone: A hot spring paradise
  • Kusatsu: A tranquil escape
  • Atami: A seaside onsen retreat
  • Hakone Yuryo: Luxury in nature
  • Oedo Onsen Monogatari: Edo-period experience
  • The quaint onsen town of Hakone Yumoto
  • Yunishigawa Onsen: Scenic natural hot springs
  • Japan's open-air baths
  • Relax and unwind
  • Explore the surroundings
  • Budget-friendly options
  • Overnight stay at a ryokan: Immersing in onsen culture
Two hot spring baths in Japan

Onsen experiences in Tokyo

In the heart of Tokyo lie serene escapes like LaQua Spa and Toshimaen Niwa no Yu, offering a day of pure relaxation.

Beneath Tokyo's urban exterior, natural geothermal springs provide rich mineral waters, perfect for unwinding. Regarding costs, visiting an onsen in Tokyo can vary, typically from 300 to 2,000 yen, often including access to various baths and amenities.

Whether you're a local or a visitor, these onsen adventures promise a unique and revitalizing journey. 

Join me in exploring Tokyo's tranquil hot springs and make your day trip an authentic and memorable experience.

Getting to hot springs from Tokyo

Visitors bound to board the bullet train

When it comes to getting to those tranquil onsen destinations listed below, you've got a range of transportation options to choose from.

The Shinkansen, known as the Bullet Train, is an excellent choice for its speed and comfort. For an even more efficient and cost-effective experience, consider the Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass), which grants you unlimited access to Japan's extensive rail network, including the Shinkansen.

When it comes to getting around Tokyo Station and Shinjuku Station, the key to making your journey smoother is understanding the station layout and utilizing the assistance provided by station personnel.

Upon reaching your main station, you might find that a bus is your next ride to reach more remote onsen areas. These well-connected buses provide a seamless journey, letting you relish the anticipation of relaxation. With these transportation insights, your hot spring adventure is poised to be convenient and memorable!

Japanes hot spring water feature

Tokyo's best onsen day trips

When it's time for a peaceful escape, the finest onsen destinations near Tokyo await, promising a day of rejuvenation for your body and mind. From the green beauty of Hakone to the sophisticated charm of Izu, these getaways offer pure tranquility.

Take advantage of Japan's top hot spring spots for the ultimate relaxation. 

Luxurious retreats like Atami, renowned for its coastal onsen, and Kusatsu, celebrated for its healing waters, provide a sublime experience with stunning views.

Discovering these serene escapes is essential. Nikko offers onsen amidst unspoiled natural beauty, while Kamakura invites you to a coastal retreat with a historical touch. These options are perfect for a quick getaway, providing soothing experiences just a short trip from Tokyo. Dive into these onsen day trip options and find the ideal spot for your relaxing break.

Hot spring bath in Hakone

Hakone: A hot spring paradise

Stop by a Hakone onsen, known for its revitalizing properties and diverse choices. Consider staying at Gora Kadan, a traditional ryokan with private onsen and views of Mount Fuji, or the modern Hakone Yutowa for contemporary comfort and healing hot spring.

Indulge in unique experiences like wine baths at Hakone Kowakien Yunessun, where you can soak in red or white wine for added skin benefits. And savor delicious kaiseki cuisine while enjoying the serene ambiance of Kinnotake Tonosawa.

Kusatsu: A tranquil escape

Kusatsu onsen's hot spring bath

Discover Kusatsu Onsen, a hidden treasure nestled in the Gunma Prefecture. This onsen town boasts some of Japan's most therapeutic and naturally acidic waters, making it a must-visit for those seeking a genuine onsen experience.

A standout attraction in Kusatsu is the Yubatake, a captivating hot water field that reflects the town's deep connection to onsen culture. Here, you can immerse yourself in traditional onsen practices, including 'yumomi,' which is a method for cooling hot spring water before bathing.

The history of Kusatsu's healing waters dates back centuries, and exploring the geological wonders that give rise to these remarkable springs is a true delight. Take a moment to visit Sainokawara Park, where you can witness the comforting steam rising from the hot water and enjoy a peaceful walk amid nature.

As you explore Kusatsu's charming streets, savor local specialties like 'onsen manju' (steamed buns) and 'onsen tamago' (eggs boiled in the hot spring).

Hot spring bath in Japan

Atami: A seaside onsen retreat

Experience the serenity of Atami's hot springs, which can be found in traditional ryokans, modern spa resorts, and public baths like the Atami Onsen, all with a beautiful ocean backdrop.

Atami is ideal for just a day trip from Tokyo, easily accessible by train. Start your journey with a soothing bath to relax, followed by a stroll along Atami Sun Beach. Be sure to relish the local seafood at the excellent restaurants in the area.

Be sure to relish the local seafood at the excellent restaurants in the area.

Discover Atami's captivating coastal scenery, including a visit to the MOA Museum of Art and the panoramic vistas from the Izusan Jinja Shrine. It's a day of genuine warmth, perfect for a memorable Atami experience!

Woman in a onsen

Hakone Yuryo: Luxury in nature

Prepare to experience the delightful luxury of Hakone Yuryo. Located in the heart of Hakone, this exceptional resort offers a haven of relaxation, with various private and communal baths filled with the therapeutic warmth of natural hot springs.

Consider arriving early to make the most of your trip to Hakone Yuryo. Begin your day with a peaceful soak in a bath, followed by a stroll in the beautifully maintained gardens. Remember to enjoy a delicious kaiseki meal, and you can even treat yourself to a unique wine bath experience for your skin.

View of Mt Fuji from Lake Ashi, Hakone

The quaint onsen town of Hakone Yumoto

Welcome to Hakone Yumoto, a traditional onsen haven renowned for its therapeutic hot springs. This town offers an authentic public bath experience, providing a place to relax in soothing onsens with healing waters.

Take a stroll through the town's charming streets, where you'll find quaint shops and traditional tea houses. You can explore local crafts and enjoy some delightful snacks.

The town also offers a glimpse into Japan's history. You can visit attractions like the reconstructed checkpoint at Hakone Sekisho and enjoy the natural beauty of the Sengokuhara Pampas Grass Fields.

Let's explore the serene and authentic onsen town of Hakone Yumoto, where tradition and relaxation coexist.

Candles lighting the path to the hot spring baths

Yunishigawa Onsen: Scenic natural hot springs

Nestled in the serene embrace of Nikko's captivating landscapes, Yunishigawa Onsen is a hidden treasure waiting for you to uncover. This onsen town, surrounded by lush forests, offers a peaceful escape for nature enthusiasts and those searching for tranquility.

When planning your onsen day trip to Yunishigawa Onsen, make sure to harmonize your experience with the area's natural beauty.

Take a stroll along the riverbanks, where the soothing sounds of flowing water and the picturesque surroundings create a serene ambiance that envelops you.

For a unique onsen experience, consider indulging in an open-air hot spring with serene views of Yunishigawa's natural beauty. Many onsen resorts offer these tranquil baths, allowing you to take a break in warm waters while immersing yourself in the area's breathtaking scenery.

open air hot spring bath

Japan's open-air baths

Explore Japan's open-air baths, a delightful respite from the city's constant hustle. These serene retreats are often nestled in natural settings, surrounded by lush greenery.

What makes an open-air hot spring special is the seamless blend of modern comforts and the beauty of the outdoors. 

Many of these baths, such as Hakone Yuryo, are thoughtfully designed with relaxation in mind, offering a mix of hot spring pools and, on occasion, the beautiful scenery of Mount Fuji.

These baths are often located in spots with breathtaking scenery, making them perfect for unwinding and rejuvenating. The mineral-rich waters are believed to have therapeutic properties, providing a holistic wellness experience amid nature.

Hot spring bath with a bamboo cup

Relax and unwind

An onsen experience is all about finding solace for your soul. Onsen facilities are thoughtfully designed for one purpose: relaxation. Here, you'll find indoor and outdoor baths that wash away the day's worries. The peaceful surroundings and the serene ambiance create the perfect backdrop for unwinding. Each hot spring facility bears the mark of a rich history and tradition, honoring the deep cultural heritage of onsens. Take a moment to appreciate the aesthetics and immerse yourself in the timeless rituals of onsen bathing.

Understanding the do's and don'ts is crucial to make the most of your hot spring adventure.

Do's: include a pre-onsen shower, maintaining a tranquil atmosphere, using the small towel carefully, avoiding soap or shampoo in the water, and staying hydrated.

Don'ts: involve no bathing suits in traditional onsens, no photography for privacy, respecting the tranquility, and checking the onsen's tattoo policy. These guidelines ensure a respectful and blissful onsen experience in Tokyo, uniting relaxation and tradition.

Explore the surroundings

Monkeys sitting and swimming in a hot spring bath

Beyond the therapeutic hot springs, the neighboring attractions are a call to adventure and exploration.

In Nikko, near Yunishigawa Onsen, the intricate wood carvings at the UNESCO World Heritage site, Nikko Toshogu Shrine, are sure to impress.

Near Shibu Onsen, prepare for a unique encounter at Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park, where you can observe the snow monkeys' refreshing baths.

These nearby gems aren't just places to tick off a list; they're opportunities to forge meaningful memories and connect with the authentic spirit of Japan.

Woman rinsing her body

Budget-friendly options

Understanding the expenses associated with a Japanese onsen visit is a wise move for travelers mindful of their budget. Typically, onsen visits come with admission fees, beginning at around 300 to 2,000 yen per visit. The good news is that you can discover special deals, such as morning or late-night discounts, that can significantly cut your costs.

Despite Japan's reputation for being an expensive destination, the reality is that you can enjoy hot springs without straining your budget. There's a multitude of options at your disposal. You'll find budget-friendly accommodations like hostels and guesthouses in hot spring areas.

In addition to the traditional onsens, you'll discover numerous public bathhouses, known as sento, offering a cost-effective entry point into hot spring bathing. And for travelers with a tighter budget, day trips to hot spring getaways near Tokyo are an excellent choice.

Traditional Japanese Ryokan at night

Overnight stay at a ryokan: Immersing in onsen culture

If you want to extend your day trip and stay overnight, why not immerse yourself in the heart of Japanese history and culture with a ryokan experience? These traditional Japanese inns offer a genuine glimpse into the past, featuring tatami mat rooms, comfortable futon beds, and delectable meals. Upon entering a ryokan, you'll have the chance to unwind in relaxing onsen baths and fully embrace the traditional way of life.

Places like Hakone, Kusatsu, and Gero Onsen are known for their traditional ryokans that offer an immersive cultural experience.

When considering your ryokan retreat, think about your preferences. Some ryokans are tucked away in the serene mountains, providing a sense of seclusion, while others are conveniently located in vibrant onsen towns, giving you easy access to local attractions.

Discovering Japan's hot springs can be as heartwarming as the thermal waters themselves, and it won't weigh down your spirits or budget. So, embrace the onsen experience with a relaxed smile!

Near Tokyo, you'll find a peaceful retreat in the form of natural hot springs. These accessible havens of tranquility offer a welcome respite from the city's fast pace. They're a soothing balm for your spirit, a chance to escape the daily urban hustle.

In a traditional onsen, you'll experience a wonderful blend of nature and culture. It's more than just relaxation; it's an opportunity for exploration, a haven of calm amidst the city's constant movement.

As you plan your next Tokyo getaway, consider these hidden treasures of onsen day trips. They're not just a solution for city living; they're an open invitation to immerse yourself in Japan's serene onsen and create enduring memories. It's a well-deserved treat!

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