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The hot spring town of Zao Onsen (, Zaō Onsen) lies attractively at an altitude of 880 meters above sea level on the slopes of the volcanic Mount Zao. In winter, it also serves as one of Japan's leading ski resorts, enabling skiers to enjoy the Japanese way of relaxing in a hot spring bath after a day on the slopes.

Zao Onsen's sulfuric waters are among the most acidic in the entire country with a PH value of close to 1. They can be enjoyed at multiple public bath houses across the town, which range from small, old-fashioned community baths to a modern facility with various pools. The highlight is the Zao Dai-Rotemburo outdoor bath, which is unfortunately closed in winter.

Most ryokan and many hotels and pensions in Zao Onsen offer their staying guests hot spring baths. A few of them also open their baths to non-staying guests during daytime for a small admission fee.

Below are some of the public baths found in Zao Onsen:

Zao Dai-Rotemburo (Zao Large Outdoor Baths)

Hours: 9:30 to 17:00 (until 18:00 on weekends and national holidays)
Closed: late November to mid April
Admission: 700 yen

Shinzaemon no Yu

Hours: 10:00 to 18:00 (entry until 17:30)
Closed: Wednesdays
Admission: 1000 yen

Kawarayu Public Bath

Hours: 6:00 to 22:00
Closed: No closing days
Admission: 200 yen (deposit into box)

Shimoyu Public Bath

Hours: 6:00 to 22:00
Closed: No closing days
Admission: 200 yen (deposit into box)

Kamiyu Public Bath

Hours: 6:00 to 22:00
Closed: No closing days
Admission: 200 yen (deposit into box)

Ratings:    best of the best    best of Japan    outstanding

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