Unique Onsens In Japan You Shouldn't Miss Out On | CoolJapan

No visit to Japan is complete without a good soak in a heated pool of mineral goodness. Japan’s Onsens are known for their relaxing nature and their waters are believed to have medical and beauty benefits. We suss out some of the more unusual Onsen experiences in Japan for your next trip.

Winter scenery in Niigata prefecture

Winter scenery in Niigata prefecture (Photo from: JNTO)

Manza Onsen, Gunma

Manza Onsen in Tsumagoi Village, Gunma Prefecture

Manza Onsen in Tsumagoi Village, Gunma Prefecture (Photo from: Gunma Prefectural Government)

There are 11 different types of Onsen in Japan classified by their mineral compositions — Sulphuric Onsens with their distinctive ‘rotten egg’ smell are the most common, and Manza Onsen in Gunma Prefecture are known to be some of the most sulphuric waters in all of Japan. Located on the slopes of Mount Shirane 1,800M above sea level, the milky white waters of Manza Onsen have been used by bathers since Japan’s Edo period to improve their blood circulation and heal skin diseases.

The Manza Prince Hotel offers some of the best mountain views from their outdoor baths. Manza Onsen is especially popular during the winter when powder snow is falling and ski season is at its peak — the perfect way to cap a long day on the slopes.

Matsunoyama Onsen, Niigata

Hinanoyado Chitose, Matsunoyama Onsen

Hinanoyado Chitose, Matsunoyama Onsen (Photo from: Niigata Prefectural Tourist Association)

Matsuyama Onsen is renowned as one of the top three medicinal hot springs in Japan alongside Arima Onsen in Hyogo and Kusatsu Onsen in Gunma because the hot spring waters here hold many times more minerals compared to other typical hot springs. Matsuyama Onsen, in particular, is rich in metasilicic acid which has skin moisturising properties and can apparently even help heal other skin ailments like cuts and burns.

The Hinanoyado Chitose ryokan has an outdoor ‘moon bath’ which is one of the best ways to enjoy the waters of Matsunoyama Onsen. Matsuyama Onsen is located in Tokamachi City of Niigata prefecture, an area known for some of the highest snowfall in Japan. But make sure not to skip the nearby Bijin Bayashi Forest, a ‘forest of beauties’ made up of towering slender Japanese beech trees.

Kamata Onsen, Tokyo

Onsen waters often take on different hues depending on the minerals it contains, but have you ever soaked in black water onsen? Ota City is home to Kamata Onsen which has unusual black onsen water or Kuroyu. This is because the source of these waters is a marine underground hot spring in Tokyo Bay which has a lot of humic acids accumulated from the many layers of underwater vegetation and volcanic ashes and debris. These waters have a refreshing feeling and are said to be good for healing sore muscles and joints as well as skin smoothening.

You don’t have to travel far for some unusual onsens in Japan. Kamata Onsen is located in Ota City on the edge of Tokyo and not far from Haneda Airport. Kaiseiyu is a sento (public bath) in Kamata that offers some of the darkest Kuroyu alongside tanks of carp and goldfish to watch as you soak.

Furofushi Onsen, Aomori

Furofushi Onsen

Furofushi Onsen (Photo from: Aomori Prefectural Government)

Another mineral often found in onsen waters is iron — these particles turn the onsen waters a brownish or reddish colour from the oxidation of the iron with the air. Furofushi Onsen has an unusual location right on the coastline in Aomori prefecture; the brown waters that turn a sparkling gold at sunrise and sunset a stark contrast to the blue waters of the Japan Sea right next to it. This Onsen’s name translates to ‘eternal youth and life’, perhaps what people perceive of the beneficial effects of the water which are said to be good for those suffering from anaemia and warming up the body quickly.

Only overnight guests at the Koganezaki Furofushi Onsen Hotel have access to the pool after 4PM, so stay there if you want to enjoy a sunset soak by the sea.