4 Relaxing Onsen (US Content)
Unwind Japanese style at these hot spring escapes. By JENNIFER CHEN.
According to lore, a Buddhist monk discovered the hot springs of Yamanaka, on the western coast of Honshu island, some 1,300 years ago. Take a dip in the privacy of the secluded Kayotei (kayotei.jp), then stay for an organic kaiseki meal with locally foraged bamboo shoots and soba noodles with grated daikon.
The Shirahama coastline is lined with unusual rock formations, but the real showstopper is the Sakinoyu onsen (+81 739 42 3016), where open air baths are carved into boulders fronting the Pacific. Once a retreat for the imperial family, it’s open to all for a nominal fee.
Located at the foot of Mount Amagi, Yugashima has jaw dropping scenery and rustic baths. The Yumotokan onsen (yumotokan izu.jp) sits in a gorge along the Kano River. Post dip, walk through the primeval cedar forest to Joren no taki, a 25 meter high waterfall.
Kurokawa, in Kumamoto Prefecture, is one of Japan’s iconic hot springs towns there are more than 30 ryokan clustered in one sleepy hamlet; people wander the streets in robes. Don’t miss the private pools at Okyakuya (okyakuya.jp) and Shinmeikan (sinmeikan.jp), which has baths located in caves.