Shirahone Onsen (, 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, which open to day trip visitors:

  • Awanoyu••
    Hours: 10:30 to 14:00 (entry until 13:30)
    Closed: Wednesdays and Thursdays
    Admission: 1000 yen
  • Shirahone Onsen Public Notemburo
    Hours: 10:00 to 16:00
    Closed: Late November to late April
    Admission: 520 yen

Ratings:    best of the best    best of Japan    outstanding

Getting there and around

By bus from Matsumoto   (how to get to Matsumoto)

Take the Matsumoto Electric Railway from Matsumoto to Shin-Shimashima Station (30 minutes), change to a bus to the Sawando Bus Terminal (40 minutes) and change to another bus to Shirahone Onsen (20 minutes). The entire trip takes 100-120 minutes and costs 2260 yen one way. There are only 4-5 connections per day.

By car

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.