Hakuba Onsens (Japanese hot springs)
One of the best things about a visit to Japan is the numerous onsens scattered along its length. And soaking in one after a big day on the hill……there’s nothing better! Fortunately Hakuba and the area around Morino Lodge are loaded with `em! Our closest one is about 100 meters away and there are over a half dozen more within 5 minutes walk.
This guide is intended to give you information about our favorite onsens in Hakuba as well as to introduce you to some of the etiquette that goes along with them.
Rules and Etiquette
The rules of conduct at an onsen can basically be summed up in four points;
1 – Clean yourself off before entering the bath. Most onsens these days have a showering area to clean up before entering the bath. In more traditional ones, use a washbowl to rinse off.
2 – Go naked. You could wear a bathing suit in many onsens in Hakuba but the truth is you’d probably get a lot more funny looks wearing one. It is common however to bring a “modesty towel” – a small towel to cover up with. If you’re still not ready to take a bath with naked strangers, there are two onsens near bye you can book out privately.
3 – Don’t put anything other than your body in the bath. So if you have a small towel, don’t let it enter the water. Keep it on the side or if you want to be like a local, on your head while you bathe.
4 – Don’t be too noisy. The Japanese come to onsens to relax. Talking is no problem but high-fives and cannonballs……not!
*An extra point of interest, you can drink a beer while bathing, just be careful not to spill it and remember……no cannonballs!
Tokyu Onsen (Tokyu Hotel)
We didn`t used to recommend this one as it didn`t used to have an outdoor bath. It does now……and it`s very nice and only 100 meters away.
*Note – Only open in the day.
Adult 1000 yen, Children 500 yen
12 pm – 4 pm
Shobei no Yu (Mominoki Hotel)
This is a really nice onsen and has both the indoor and outdoor baths. The outdoor one (or “rotenburo”) with its stone walls and water that`s not too hot is particularily nice! There are some discount tickets on the front desk counter.
Adult 800 yen, Children 400 yen
10 am – 10 pm
Epoch no yu
In case you were starting to wonder “yu” is Japanese for “hot water” and appears in the names of lots of Onsens. Epoch no yu is a bath that can be booked privately by the hour, so if you aren`t yet ready to get naked with a bunch of strangers, or have a special someone, this might be perfect! And it`s less than 100 meters from Morino Lodge
Kurashita no yu
Located on the Matsukawa River (about a 4 minute drive or 20 minute walk from Morino lodge), this is one of our favorites! With great views of the Japanese Alps and a rustic atmosphere, the murky iron-rich water is said to have strong healing qualities for tired joints and muscles.
Adults 600 yen, Children 300 yen
10 am – 10 pm
Mimizuku no yu
Natural spring water that, along with the Mominoki and Obinata no yu has the highest pH in Japan. The scalding hot indoor tub is strictly for old Japanese gentleman but the stone outer bath has great views of Happo and 47. Mesmerising times can be spent watching the falling snow lit up by spotlights.
Adults 500 yen, Children 250 yen
10 am to 9:30 pm
Every Thursday, except from the end of December to end of March
Obinata no yu
Carved into natural rock and with a fantastic view of the mountains, this rustic spring is one of the best in town. Unfortunately it`s buried under meters of snow for most of the winter and doesn`t open for bathing until late February. It`s worth the wait, as there`s nothing better on a spring day!
Adult 500 yen, Children 250 yen
Lodge – 0261-85-9098
Matt – (81) 90 9380 8817
Craig – (81) 80 3127 1878