Ryokan and Onsen Experiences in Japan

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Japan’s volcanic landscape is dotted with thousands of natural hot springs, perfect for a relaxing soak in the mineral-rich waters after a day of sightseeing. Don’t leave Japan without experiencing one of these Japanese-style spas—here’s what you need to know.

What are Ryokans and Onsens?
Ryokans are traditional Japanese inns found throughout the country, often in hot springs areas. Common features include tatami floors, futon beds, local cuisine, and access to Japanese-style hot springs baths, called onsen. Some of these hot springs are found within public bath houses, while others belong to a ryokan. These pools come in all varieties—indoors and outdoors, co-ed or gender separated. 

Highlights
  • Relax in an onsen after exploring Mount Fuji on a day trip from Tokyo.
  • Soak in the waters of Shibu Onsen, a hot-springs resort dating back more than 1,300 years.
  • Observe wild macaques (Japanese snow monkeys) bathing in their own onsen in Jigokudani Monkey Park.
  • Spend the night in a traditional ryokan while exploring the Nagano region.
  • Unwind in an urban onsen, like Spa World in Osaka or Thermae-Yu in Tokyo.
  • Finish off a day of biking, hiking, skiing, or snow sledding with a warming soak in a natural hot spring.
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