As a volcanically active country, Japan boasts some of the best natural hot springs in the world. Referred to as "onsen", these geothermally heated springs are scattered all across the country in both indoor and outdoor facilities. These waters are considered to have restorative properties with natural minerals that are thought to heal aches and pains, ease and prevent illnesses, and generally maintain a healthy body. To contribute to the Japanese appreciation for nature, hot springs are an integral part of maintaining a tranquil, Zen-like equilibrium. Many flock to one of hundreds of hot spring destinations as a peaceful getaway, to cleanse the body and soul, and to simply relax.
Dogo Onsen, Ehime
As one of the oldest and most famous noted spas in Japan, visitors enjoy relaxing in this Ehime Prefecture onsen, which is said to have opened 3,000 years ago. Visit http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/spot/hotspri/dogo.html for more information.
Hakone Seventeen Spas, Kanagawa
Situated in the southwestern part of the Kanagawa Prefecture and easily accessible from Tokyo, Hakone's active volcanoes have given birth to some of Japan's best hot springs. Said to contain 20 different natural qualities, Hakone is a top destination for anyone looking for peace and tranquility.
For more information, visit http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/regional/kanagawa/hakone.html
Over 3 million annual visitors flock to Yufuin in the Oita Prefecture to experience its secluded, relaxing environments. As a spa town, Yufuin is highly attractive for tourists looking to immerse themselves in serene natural landscapes and pure natural waters. View images and find out more about Yufuin here: http://en.visit-oita.jp/oita/onsen.html
Nyuto Onsen, Akita
Nyuto, located in the Akita Prefecture, is known for its seven rustic yet luxurious ryokan that surround the beautiful and exclusive hot springs. The onsen's milky, cloudy waters serve as a wonderful cleansing and relaxing experience, especially during the wintertime when visitors may indulge in an outdoor hot spring surrounded by beautiful white snow. More information about Nyuto can be found here: http://japan-magazine.jnto.go.jp/en/1501_nyuto.html
Located on Kyushu Island, Ibusuki is a beautiful resort known for its hot sand bath. Visitors clad in kimono are covered up to their neck with warm, geothermally heated sand, which is widely believed to stimulate blood circulation while providing a unique, relaxing atmosphere. Learn more about the Ibusuki area here: http://www.ibusuki.or.jp.e.xy.hp.transer.com/spa/
In the Joshinetsu Kogen National Park lies Jigokudani, or "Hell's Valley," named for its boiling water that bubbles out of the frozen ground. The real reason to visit Jigokudani, however, is for its large population of Japanese Macaques, or snow monkeys. The monkeys descend upon the park during the winter months to bathe in the onsen to warm up before retreating back to the forest at night. Learn more about the Jigokudani hot springs here: http://en.jigokudani-yaenkoen.co.jp/
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