Japan is home to over 2,300 onsen hot springs, each boasting different types of water, healing properties, colours, water temperatures and more. With so many onsens in Japan, it can be tough to know where to start! Why not pick an onsen popular with Singaporeans for the ultimate experience?
We polled 225 Ikeda Spa customers to create the ranking of the 10 best onsens from the 111 most popular onsen destinations in Japan. Please use this list as a reference when finding the best places to enjoy an authentic onsen experience!
Bonus tip: Those with a JR pass should take advantage of this 2-week travel itinerary to explore different onsens in Japan. Or don’t know how to onsen, check out the ultimate guide to the Onsen for Singaporeans.
The Top 10 Best Onsens in Japan
10th place – Takaragawa Onsen
Takaragawa Onsen is one of the four major hot springs in Gunma Prefecture, located in the Minakami Onsen area. It is renowned for its large open-air bath, which is said to be the largest in Japan, and its beautiful setting along a pristine stream. Takaragawa has been ranked as one of Japan’s 10 best hot springs by a leading travel guidebook and receives many visitors from English-speaking countries. Day-trip visitors are also welcome to enjoy the bath.
The baths at Takaragawa Onsen are available for men and women, and visitors can rent designated bath attire when taking a soak. There are also women-only baths for women who are uncomfortable with mixed-gender baths.
Adults (Junior high school students and over): ¥2,000
Elementary school students: ¥1,500
Pre-school children and under: Free
9th place – Onneyu Onsen
Onneyu Onsen is a hot spring in the eastern part of Hokkaido, Japan. It has been operating since 1899 and is supplied with 100% free-flowing hot spring water. The name “Onneyu” comes from the Ainu language, meaning “large hot spring,” it was already popular with the Ainu people before it became known to Japanese settlers. The hot spring is renowned for its anti-ageing effects and is particularly popular among people with skin conditions. Today, it remains a popular destination for relaxation and healing in a traditional Japanese hot spring setting.
Admission fee: ¥8,000 – ¥50,000 (Cleaning time from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm)
8th place – Kinosaki Onsen
Kinosaki Onsen is a famous and popular hot spring destination that has been attracting visitors for over a millennium. It offers a cosy atmosphere and features seven natural hot springs, making it a perfect place for relaxation and unwinding. The town’s allure stems from its well-preserved architecture and dedication to onsen culture, maintaining a serene and authentic old Japan charm for more than 1300 years. Visitors can enjoy strolling along a willow-lined canal, wearing traditional yukata, and listening to the soothing sounds of their geta as they explore the softly lit streets. Overall, Kinosaki Onsen is a beloved spot for those seeking a traditional hot spring experience and a break from modern life’s pressures.
Admission fee: One-day Onsen pass
Children middle school age: ¥750
Under 3 years old: Free
7th place – Asamushi Onsen
In the Heian period, Jikaku Daishi (Ennin) discovered hot springs primarily used for steaming hemp. In 1190, Enko Daishi (Honen) witnessed an injured deer bathing in the hot spring and recommended villagers bathe in it too. From then on, people began using the hot spring for relaxation and healing. The name “Asamushi” originates from its previous use for hemp steaming, with “masu” evolving into “asamushi” over time. Today, Asamushi remains a popular destination known for its therapeutic properties and ancient history.
Admission fee: ¥1,500
6th place – Sukayu Onsen
Sukayu Onsen Ryokan is a hidden gem in Oirase & Hakkoda Onsen, Aomori, offering a pure and rustic ambience at a 900-meter highland in the Hakkoda mountain system. Notably, it accommodated staff and actors from the movie “Hakkodasan” (1977). The ryokan is renowned for its “magical healing hot spring above the clouds” and holds the honour of being designated as the national number one hot spring in Japan in 1949. It’s expansive facilities and coed bathing are highlights, and it preserves the traditional mountainside Japanese homestead ambience. The large coed bathing area spanning 265 square meters offers a captivating and authentic Japanese bathing experience in a tranquil natural setting.
Admission fee: ¥600 (Must select either Senjin buro or Tamanoyu)
Onsen with usage of Rest area: ¥1000 (Hours for Rest Area 9:00~15:00)
*Guests can enter both baths without limitation, and we provide a rental towel. The rest area is also available for use.
5th place – Noboribetsu Onsen
Noboribetsu Onsen, located in the northeast part of Muroran City, Hokkaido, is renowned as one of the three most famous hot spring destinations on the northern island. Situated at the base of Mount Hiyori, it boasts a daily flow of over 10,000 litres of hot spring water through its various onsens. The town’s atmosphere is surreal, with mist and smoke creating a fantasy-like ambience, and the bubbling and gushing of boiling waters in the distant valley. The onsen town is a popular tourist spot due to its abundance of onsens, offering a remarkable selection of 11 different kinds of thermal waters, widely recognized for their therapeutic benefits.
4th place – Kusatsu Onsen
Kusatsu Onsen is a famous hot spring resort in Japan with high-quality water believed to cure all illnesses except lovesickness. Its popularity dates back centuries and was further boosted by German doctor Erwin von Baelz, who praised its health benefits in the late 1800s. Located at 1200 meters above sea level in Gunma Prefecture, Kusatsu offers skiing in winter and hiking throughout the year and is part of Japan’s Romantic Road.
Admission fee: ¥500 (open 9 am to 8 pm)
3rd place – Dōgo Onsen
Experience the unique Japanese bathhouse at Dogo hot spring, the oldest onsen area in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture. Despite ongoing restorations, this Michelin 3-star attraction offers a historical and detoxifying experience. Dogo Onsen Honkan, the area’s most famous bathhouse, has a remarkable 120-year history and is a perfect way to unwind. Anime enthusiasts may recognize it from Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away, adding to its charm and appeal.
6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
(last admission 10:30 p.m.)
2nd place – Oku-yagen Hot Spring
Yagen Onsen, known as the Honshu Hot Spa, lies along the Ohata River, offering a delightful 4.4 km walking trail surrounded by lush cypress, beech, and maple trees, along with captivating waterfalls. Just 2 km up the mountain from Yagen is Oku-Yagen Hot Springs.
At Yagen, you can enjoy the open-air bathing area “Kappa-no-Yu” free of charge, while “Fufu-Kappa-no-Yu” by the Ohata River provides separate men’s and women’s baths at a reasonable price.
Legend has it that around 1,100 years ago, Jikaku Daishi, a pioneering priest, got lost while travelling to Oku-Yagen, but a kappa (water imp) came to his aid, carrying him to safety. The priest woke up covered in butterbur leaves and found relief in the warm bath. In gratitude, he named the hot springs “Kappa-no-Yu.”
Adults: 230 ¥
Elementary and junior high school students: 110 yen
Elementary school students and younger: Free
*Please pay at the ticket vending machine in the resthouse
1st place – Lake Kawaguchi Onsen
Lake Kawaguchi Onsen is a charming hot spring resort near Lake Kawaguchi in Japan. The onsen offers visitors a delightful blend of scenic beauty and relaxing thermal baths. Surrounded by breathtaking views of Mount Fuji and the picturesque lake, it provides a tranquil atmosphere to unwind and rejuvenate. With a variety of traditional ryokans and modern hotels, visitors can indulge in the unique experience of Japanese hot spring culture while admiring the stunning natural surroundings. Whether it’s a soothing dip in the therapeutic hot waters or a stroll along the lake, Lake Kawaguchi Onsen promises a memorable and invigorating escape for travellers seeking relaxation and adventure.
10:00-19:00PM: 1,400¥ (750¥) 1,700¥ (800¥)
19:00PM-22:00PM: 1,200¥ (650¥) 1,500¥ (700¥)
Can’t travel to Japan?
A visit to Japan is not complete without taking a dip in an Onsen. We hope this article is helpful and saves you time researching Onsens to try in Japan. If you cannot travel to Japan but still want to experience a Japanese Onsen, Enjoy Authentic Japanese Onsen here at Ikeda Spa Singapore. Indulge in a Hinoki Onsen bath made from cypress wood and infused with various bath salts, providing a truly relaxing experience. Plus, it’s a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Click on the banner below to find out how to get your FREE onsen bath!