I Love ゆ
湯 (ゆ/yu) means hot water in Japanese. Bathing in natural hot springs is done throughout the world wherever the geothermal situation has allowed springs to develop. Japan is fortunate to have springs located across the nation and a culture of bathing has grown up around them from the beginning of history.
In Japan bathing is a national pastime and an attraction for tourists from around the world. Bathers have a choice from remote springs in the mountains to grand hotels. This site focuses primarily on the area around Osaka. Information on local sento (銭湯) bathhouses, the larger more commercial supersento (スーパー銭湯), and other less classifiable hot springs. Some of these locations just use the municipal water, some augment their water with radon gas or water softeners (軟水), lastly some have wells or springs that fill tubs with groundwater.
I began going to hot springs while at university in the United States and found it the best therapy for my upper back pain. Since moving to Japan I have also found bathing as a great stress reliever and a great way to explore the country.
January 1, 2021
Happy New Year! Here is a huge update. I was able to sneak around Japan thanks to a JR East pass for any non-Japanese, even PR holders, and before that a trip to see some friends in Nagano so there are many new places outside of Kansai added in this update. Thanks to the Nagano trip I've completed the Tatsuno Triangle near Lake Suwa and heading to Aomori and back on the JR East pass gave me a big move forward in my goal to ride all the train lines in Japan. At the time of this update I have done 45.91% of the 27,843.8km of rideable track in Japan.
I wish you all have a safe, healthy and warm 2021. Thank you for your continued readership of my little project here.
New Reviews Added
A new place in Akita and Aomori on my trip north. I had been to Akita before but this was my first bath there in the large Komachi entertainment and hotel complex. Surprisingly good spring water too! In Aormori I changed trains, visited the interesting and educational forestry museum which is housed in a seriously cool Meiji era building, and went to the Machinaka Onsen a kenko land / hotel that has an above average natural hot spring.
3 new places in a new prefecture, Niigata! Kamabuta no Yu is a recently built supersento with a super slippery spring. Yahiko Shrine is amazing and there are two hot springs in the area. Myōgaya is one of the easiest to access ryokan that offer day use. There are a boat load of springs aroudn Yuzawa in the Niigata mountains, but time and heavy snowfall led me to visit the bath they have in the train station!
I spent an afternoon riding the Hokutetsu private railway in Kanazawa. At the end of line (and 15 min walk) is the Uchinada outlet of the Yurara chain of supersento. Second best spring water in this update with a great woody, earthy smell to it.
Up during a short trip to Nagano I was able to hit up 4 places in Shimosuwa onsen. The baths there are HOT! Like the hottest water I have experienced at 47˚C. Holiday-yu is a hotel/resort that has day use and a weird bath design. Yukemori Onsen Yakushi no Yu in Ōmachi has a decent bath but a great onsen museum which I will be writing about soon. Kuwa no Yu is the last sento in Shiojiri City and sells some cool t-shirts. Lastly is the extremely forgettable Kaede no Yu in Yamanouchi.
On the way home from Nagano we stopped at a hotel/resort that also had a day use spring and were extremely surprised. Only a 15 minute detour from the Meishin Expressway in Yōrō is Yusen no Sato. Probably the best spring in this update.
3 new places in Kyoto from all over the prefecture. First is the Sakae Onsen just in front of Ayabe Station in the north west of the prefecture. In the south east of the prefecture Suishun has opened a new supersento / hotel by Matsuiyamate station. Lastly just south of Kyoto Station in an area with not much else on offer is the well used but very comfortable Chikara no Yu.
Tondabayashi City in southern Osaka Prefecture has one last sento named after the local mountain: Katsuragi Onsen.
I did a day of riding trains and hitting up places in Nara and found a few gems. Chuō Onsen in Yamatotakada is a classic retro sento that every enthusiast should visit. In Sakurai City Sakura-yu is a municipal bathhouse but enjoyable. The Nishiyamato outlet of the Niji no Yu chain had an amazing spring running up until November of 2020. It is still a beautiful location, but with out the spring it would be hard to justify the trip if you do not already live in the area.
Kyōei Onsen in Ikeda is a decent sento used as a location for a movie released in 2020.
Sanwa Onsen in Amagasaki is forgettable. Could have been nicer if it was better maintained.