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Which onsen in central honshu should I go to? 2019/1/19 07:14
Hello! I'll be in Japan at the end of March/beginning of April. I'm planning on going from Tokyo to an onsen town for 2 nights, then going on to Kyoto/Osaka. I've been looking all over central honshu, and a few onsen have caught my eye (Takaragawa Onsen, Shima Onsen, Kusatsu Onsen, Manza Onsen, Okuhida Onsen, Kaga Onsen).

I know they are all very different! I'm hoping for somewhere I can relax and get a traditional ryokan experience, with beautiful nature nearby. It would be nice to access 1 or 2 other sites while I'm in the mountains. Note: I will not have a car, so access is important, but I also know that sweet spot of tucked away and accessible is hard to find. Of course I can't have it all, but having never been to the area, I'd love some recommendations!

I'm leaning towards Shima or Kusatsu (though I'm worried about it being too crowded)...but Takaragawa also looks so beautiful!
by FMH  

Re: Which onsen in central honshu should I go to? 2019/2/4 22:26
Hi FMH, the all of onsen that you listed are very nice. I believe it is going to be a bit crowded on weekend, but not for weekdays. Or, if you lay emphasis on access, try to think about going Hakone. It takes only 1hour & half from Shinjuku, Tokyo. Also there is a direct train. Hope this helps.
by Sunflowerlover82 rate this post as useful

Re: Which onsen in central honshu should I go to? 2019/2/5 02:19
Honestly, it sort of depends on how many nights you have in Japan and what you're really looking for. I've not been to most of the onsen listed because most haven't worked with my itinerary. Kusatsu looks amazing but is never near anywhere I want to go and the trip is pretty long to get there. I've been to Hirayu (which I believe is part of the Okuhida Group) and when I was there it was quite crowded. If you also wanted to see Takayama or Matsumoto it's a good choice. It's not going to give you that onsen town experience if that is what you crave. I think Kaga might also be a good choice since you can take the shinkansen from Tokyo to Kanazawa and then a train to Kaga onsen and then when you are done in Kaga onsen, take a train down to Kyoto/Osaka. Kusastu might work if you take the bus to Karuizawa, but you'll need to change in Nagano for a faster shinkansen or the trip is going to take a long long long time and you might be better off spending the night in Kanazawa before going to Kyoto or Osaka.

I have been to Hakone. It's very convenient to going to Kyoto or Osaka. I also think it is very overrated and only really interesting if you enjoy taking various means of transport for fun, are looking for a bathing suit onsen, or if you go in the Summer when the hydrangea are in bloom and it's absolutely beautiful if you're into flower viewing.

I guess if you want semi convenient another idea would be Shuzenji, since you could take a shinkansen to Mishima and then the train from there. This page has information on it: https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e6311.html

There are onsen around Matsumoto which is not super out of the way to Kyoto or Osaka depending on your routing and I know someone who went to Shiba onsen on their way to Kyoto so they could see the famous monkeys. Bessho might be another option, I know @Lazy Pious often recommends it.

But I would personally look for an onsen that involves less backtracking unless you have a long trip and can afford it, in which case look for the most interesting back tracking options then. :)

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Which onsen in central honshu should I go to? 2019/2/5 04:44
Cheers, yes Bessho Onsen is pretty handy to Tokyo and is nice for an overnight stay. There isnt a lot to do there, but one benefit is that the sakura bloom late there, you can get it in mid May.

It depends on whether you are after an onsen town experience or a ryokan experience. I guess that you are after the onsen town. This year we are going to a few, including Kusatsu and Shuzenji. Shuzenji is pretty easy to get to and looks nice. Even though I didnt think that Hakone deserved its popularity, I quite liked Gora and thius year we will go back to Hakone for the last few days and stay at Hakone Yumoto at Fukuzumiro which looks very traditional (my wife is not particularly excited about there not being a toilet in the room).

But if you want to be able to wander about and see sites and nature, I like Takayama. Most onsen towns I've been to dont have much to do beyond bathing, so overnight is plenty, and also if they are very steep (like Gora) it is hard just having a little walk. Even though Takayama isnt a dedicated onsen town it does have ryokans with onsens (I suppose everywhere does), we have stayed a few times at Tanabe Ryokan there which is very traditional and nice, also at Hotel Associa which is an onsen resort and one of our favorite places (but not traditional at all).
by Lazy Pious (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Which onsen in central honshu should I go to? 2019/2/5 16:37
Bessho is nice, yes - and a little secret.

If you want to have something easy to reach, directly in the middle for a day trip during some stopover in Nagoya, i also recommend Nagashima Spa - Yuami no Shima

more remote feeling and also off the radar than Okuhida is maybe Shichimi onsen.
by Glimpigumpi rate this post as useful

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