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new web site on onsen


24 May 2005
Hello everybody,

This is my first message on this board.

I live in Japan for a couple of years now, and I developped a strong interest in onsen, where I try to go as often as possible. I found that practical information and advices on onsen is quite limited in English language, and therefore I recently created, with a friend, a web site called "Destination onsen". The address is :


We now have 56 onsen in our database, most of them being rotenburo (outside baths, 51). We also have a large number of konyoku (mixed baths, 40), located all around Japan. We are currently preparing future additions, and should be able to propose about 100 onsen in a couple of months. All of them were visited by us (we unfortunately tend to visit more baths than we have time to update our pages, hence the delay...)

Hope you will find this site useful. Any comment will be welcomed.

Finally, English being not our mother tongue, there will be mistakes in the pages. Sorry for that.

Very nice, sanji. 👍
I love Onsen, too. I went to Japan last year, and went to several Onsen places in Kyushu.
By the way, you've been to so many Onsen!
Which one is your favorite?
It is really a difficult question...

Onsen can be very different, and that makes them so interesting, I believe. At the same time, different persons will be searching for different things, so it is almost impossible to compare.

For a nice day-trip, the best choices for me are in the Minakami area (Gunma-ken), with Takaragawa and its biggest outdoor baths in Japan, next to a river and under the trees... In the same area, there is also a very historical bath (around 100 years old, inside bath): Hoshi Onsen.

If you like wild nature, then Hokkaido is the ultimate destination in Japan. For onsen, you would more precisely go to the Doutou area, north-east of the island. There are many famous rotenburo (outside bath) there, like Onneto and Kotan.

For a week-end, you might prefer to stay in a typical onsen town, where guests walk around in yukata and enjoy several baths in different places every day... For such trip, a famous onsen town like Kusatsu would be an excellent destination...

One of my favorite place is in Tochigi-ken, the area called Okukinu, is known as "the home of secret spas"... Onsen are reached by foot, and are isolated in a pristine nature. Among them, Hatcho no yu and Kani yu are the most famous.

Finally, if you prefer the sea to the mountains, then Izu could be an excellent alternative... Sawada Koen is a small onsen located on a cliff, overlooking the west coast of Izu (but not yet on the web site we are preparing...).

For more details on the onsen... www.jodry.com/~onsen

Thank you very much for the information.
I've never been to Hokkaido, and would love to go there.
It's so beautiful! 👍
Secret Onsen - new URL

Please note that the web site dedicated to onsen has moved to this address :

Secret Onsen

It now contains almost 100 onsen, all around Japan (we visited some in Hokkaido, and some in Okinawa !). There are also google maps to help you locate the bath easily.

All discussions related to onsen - and other issues regarding travels in Japan - can be discussed on our dedicated forum at :

Secret Japan - Travel off the beaten tracks - Voyager hors des sentiers battus

A dozen of onsen were added recently to our database, bringing the total to 109. Most of the latest additions are mixed baths (konyoku)...

We hope you will continue to visit our site. And would love to hear about nice onsen we haven't visited yet...

Thanks for the comments. We have visited lots of onsen lately, and will try to fill the database as fast as possible...

We also have a forum for discussions about onsen (and with many guides to destinations off the beaten tracks, too).

this is really interesting and helpful site! lot of useful information, and great photos! I will bookmark it for sure.. i would love to visit one of these when I move to Japan. I'm sure it is interesting experience.

thank you, sanji


There are some onsen in Okinawa, but much less than in the rest of Japan. Especially, I visited an onsen in Iriomote, which is the most south of the country. Bathing surrounded by a mangrove, a very unusual feeling...

Re: onsen in Kyushu

Very nice, sanji. 👍
I love Onsen, too. I went to Japan last year, and went to several Onsen places in Kyushu.
By the way, you've been to so many Onsen!
Which one is your favorite?
We have just finished a tour of konyoku onsen in Tochigi and are considering to make the next tour in Kyushu. Any recommendations for konyoku onsen in Kyushu?
An onsen is just like a big bath tub. If it is a natural onsen, then the super-heated water that fills the "tub" was naturally heated from volcanic activity underground.

If you've got the time, here's another site
on Japan to check out:

An onsen is just like a big bath tub. If it is a natural onsen, then the super-heated water that fills the "tub" was naturally heated from volcanic activity underground.
No, this is not correct.
An onsen is a natural spring that either gushes from the ground or is pumped from underground. And this water has to meet at least one of the following three requirements to be considered as an "onsen water":
- be naturally heated at more than 25 degrees Celsius;
- contain more than 1 g of solid residue per kg of water;
- contain more than a specific quantity of one of 16 listed elements, including anions, cations, solids and gas (F, CO2, Fe, H2S, etc...)
What you can understand from this definition is that an onsen is always a natural spring, but not necessarly a hot spring. In Chichibu, near Tokyo, all onsen are in fact cold water that is heated before being poured in the baths. Still, because they contain specific elements, those waters are considered as "onsen waters".
Hope this clarify everything.
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Anything good in Kumamoto? I checked the site and found nothing (about half of the posts are in French) useful.
We have two different and independant sections on our servers. Secret Japan is a collection of guides for travelers who want to go off the beaten tracks and a forum, while Secret Onsen is basically a large database with... onsen. While the guides are in French and/or English, the onsen database is only in English.
For Kumamoto-ken, you can check this direct link for some of the best onsen in Japan :
Prefecture - Kumamoto-ken
Indeed, Kurokawa Onsen is a fantastic place for onsen lovers - probably the best onsen town in Japan. I would strongly recommend to spend a night there if you can afford it.
Hope this helps,
I really love your work Sanji! I've been building a similar site, but focused on the small neighbourhood public bath houses, rather than the natural ones. Most cities have these so called sento's and are usually not hot-spring powered but rather the water is artificially heated. I've only just started and I have about 200 baths listed at the moment, but since there are tens of thousands of these small sento's all over Japan, if people here have ever been to one, feel free to submit it for inclusion in my database, since it would be very hard to find all of them myself ;).
Have a look at the site (the link is in the signature) and to submit any baths you've been to. Thanks for your help!
Thanks for your comments, wouterkloos.

Your web site DUI Lawyer Guide is also very attractive, and I will be looking forward to see it growing.

I wonder if in your list, some of the sento are not in fact onsen - that is, using natural spring water rather than tap water. Especially in remote areas, sento are sometimes real onsen. Did you ask every time if spring water was used or not?

Thanks sanji!

To be honest, it's very possible some of the baths listed on my website are in fact fed by natural spring water. Most of them are listed in the phonebook under sento though. I will be looking into a more specific classification of all baths listed once I've had a chance to grow my database a bit more, since there is also a bit of a range in sento. There is your small local neighbourhood sento and there is something bigger called super-sento, featuring more baths and more facilities. This is definitely something on my to-do list.

Thanks a lot for your input and I'm always open to suggestions on how to improve and make my site more informative.

Cheers, Wouter
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