Shirahone Onsen (白骨温泉, literally "white bone hot spring") is a small onsen town in the Northern Japan Alps. The town is a loose collection of a dozen or so ryokan along the slopes of a steep valley, which lies near famous alpine nature spots such as Kamikochi and Norikura. Shirahone Onsen gets its name from its milky white spring water, which is nearly opaque with magnesium and calcium sediments and is believed to relieve gastrointestinal ailments.
There is one public bath in Shirahone Onsen. Furthermore, many of the town's ryokan open their baths to day trip visitors during the day for a few hundred yen. Among them is the Awanoyu with its large mixed outdoor bath that is often seen in tourist promotional materials about Shirahone Onsen.
The following is a selection of hot spring baths around Shirahone Onsen that open to day trip visitors:
Ratings: best of the best best of Japan outstanding
By bus from Matsumoto (how to get to Matsumoto)
Take the Matsumoto Electric Railway from Matsumoto to Shin-Shimashima Station (30 minutes, 710 yen) and change to an Alpico bus to Shirahone Onsen (70 minutes, 1550 yen, 3-4 buses per day). A round trip ticket for train and bus is available for 3800 yen at the Matsumoto Bus Terminal.
Shirahone Onsen lies a few kilometers off of National Route 158, which connects Matsumoto and Takayama. Alternatively, Shirahone can be access from Norikura Kogen via the Kamikochi Norikura Super Rindo, a former toll road that is now free to use.