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8 Onsen In Japan With Outdoor Pools & Beautiful Fall Foliage Views To Soak Your Stress Away 

Onsen in Japan for beautiful autumn views

To the average Japanese, a soak in an onsen is welcomed any time of the day. But sitting in an outdoor hot spring, while feeling the cool autumn breeze and admiring the vibrant scenery, just hits different. These most beautiful onsen in Japan with stunning fall views will guarantee relaxing soaks that will wash your stress away.

1. Kurikoma Sansō – Akita

Onsen in Japan - Kurikoma SansōImage credit: @akita_tourism_federation

An open-air onsen situated at the foot of Mount Kurikoma of Kurikoma Quasi-National Park, a mountainous park that is bordered by Miyagi, Iwate, Yamagata, and Akita Prefectures, Kurikoma Sansō (栗駒山荘) is a hot spring resort frequented by hikers.

Thanks to its prime location that’s 1,100m above sea level, the onsen overlooks the azure crater, Lake Sukawa. From there, you can also take in the view of Sukawa Plateau which is speckled with red, amber, and yellow at the peak of autumn.  

Onsen in Japan - Kurikoma SansōLake Sukawa, a crater found on Mount Kurikoma.
Image credit: @hayashi5969

The onsen’s milky water, which gushes out at 6,000 litres per minute and registers a high acidity of pH 2.1, is said to be especially effective for those facing skin problems, muscle pain, and stiff joints. But even if you’re not looking to fix any bodily problems, Kurikoma Sansō is great for a short weekend trip to recharge your mind.

Onsen in Japan - Kurikoma Sansō
Image adapted from:
Tabi Tohoku

Rates for rooms start from ¥15,000 (~USD103.68) per head, and reservations can be made online or via a phone call, though the resort strongly recommends the latter as vacancies for online booking are limited. 

Kurikoma Sansō also offers plans for guests on a day trip, where they can choose to rent a room (¥6,400, ~USD44.24) from 10.30am to 2pm for recuperation, or rest at the resort’s designated communal space between 10am to 3.30pm. Both options allow guests to use the onsen freely.

Address: Nigoyama National Forest, Tsubakikawa, Higashinaruse-mura, Ogachi-gun, 019-0803 Akita
Opening hours: 24 hours, Daily (May-Oct)
Contact: 0182-47-5111 | Kurikoma Sansō Website

Sukawa Onsen (for day trippers)
Admission (use of rest space and onsen): ¥1,400 (~USD9.68) for adults, ¥800 (~USD5.53) for elementary school students
Admission (onsen only): ¥800 (~USD5.53) for adults, ¥450 (~USD3.11) for elementary school students
Opening hours: 10am-4pm, Daily (May-Oct)

2. Yamanakako Onsen Benifuji no Yu – Yamanashi

Onsen in Japan - Yamanakako Onsen Benifuji no YuImage credit: Yamanakako Tourist Association

What’s better than an autumn backdrop while you’re relaxing in a soak? An autumn backdrop that features the magnificent Mount Fuji. Yamanakako Onsen Benfuji no Yu (山中湖温泉紅富士の湯), located 3 hours by train from Tokyo, is not to be missed for anyone hoping to get a breathtaking view of Japan’s national icon up close.

The outdoor baths, which are completely open-air – save for a sheltered rooftop – and surrounded by autumnal trees, are blessed with a clear view of Mount Fuji. Here, you can take turns soaking in the 2 baths, one of which the tub is made with stones and another with cypress.

Onsen in Japan - Yamanakako Onsen Benifuji no Yu
Image credit:

There’s also an indoor onsen, which is separated by gender and comprises various types of bath such as one with a jacuzzi setting, and you can admire the snow-capped mountain if you’re visiting in winter through the floor-to-ceiling windows. 

Thanks to the alkaline hot spring water that has a pH of 10.3, the onsen is dubbed Bijin no Yu (美人の湯; hot spring which will make you beautiful) and has skin-softening properties. 

Admission: ¥900 (~USD6.22) for adults, ¥700 (~USD4.84) for high and middle school students, ¥350 (~USD2.42) elementary school students
Address: 865-776 Yamanaka, Yamanakako, Minamitsuru District, 401-0501 Yamanashi
Opening hours: Wed-Sun 11am-8pm (Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays) (Last admission at 7.15pm)
Contact: 0555-20-2700 | Yamanakako Onsen Benifuji no Yu Website

3. Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku – Gunma

Onsen in Japan - Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku
Kodakara no Yu, the largest bath in Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku.
Image credit: @edrick.mark

Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku (宝川温泉汪泉閣) is located in Minakami, a mountainous town in Gunma Prefecture that’s an hour from Tokyo. The onsen boasts 4 open-air baths that measure the size of 470 tatami mats – roughly 720sqm – and are situated along the serene Takara River. 

In particular, the Kodakara no Yu (子宝の湯) is its largest bath which can fit a whopping 200 people and can be found just across the river from Hannya no Yu (般若の湯). At the peak of autumn, the surrounding nature is dyed red with falling autumn leaves. Together with the steam coming from the hot spring waters, you’re in for an otherworldly experience. 

Onsen in Japan - Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku
Maka no Yu, one of the mixed gender baths available.

Image credit: Gunma Prefectural Government

Unlike many other onsen that are segregated by gender, 3 out of the 4 baths here are mixed gender, and guests are required to wear the bath dresses provided.

For female visitors who prefer to unwind comfortably without the presence of the opposite sex, opt for the Maya no Yu (摩耶の湯), a ladies-exclusive bath which was built in 1970 following popular requests for a female-only onsen. 

All the baths are open 24 hours for overnight guests, so consider booking a stay and experience soaking in an onsen under the stars. The rooms cost ¥12,800 (~USD88.48) onwards per head for 2 guests, and ¥12,300 (~USD85.03) and ¥11,800 (~USD81.58) onwards for groups of 3 and 4 respectively.

Make your reservations here.

Admission: ¥1,500 (~USD10.37) for adults, ¥1,000 (~USD6.91) for elementary school students
Address: 1899 Fujiwara, Minakami, Tone District, 379-1721 Gunma
Opening hours: 10am-4.30pm, Daily (Last admission at 4pm)
Contact: 0278-75-2614 | Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku Website

4. Sainokawara Rotenburo – Gunma

Onsen in Japan - Sainokawara Rotenburo
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Boasting the largest amount of natural hot spring water in Japan, Kusatsu Onsen is a popular onsen town well-known for its mineral-rich water with healing properties that allegedly cures every illness, except for lovesickness.

Of the many public baths available in the area, the huge 500sqm Sainokawara Rotenburo (西の河原露天風呂) is a prominent outdoor bath which offers a vibrant view of red and orange autumn foliage. It’s a 15-minute walk from the Yubatake, a hot water field that serves as the defining landmark of the onsen town.

Onsen in Japan - Sainokawara Rotenburo
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Due to its strong acidic water with a pH value that measures between 1.7 to 2.1, the hot spring is said to have excellent anti-inflammatory properties. Temperature varies at different areas in the hot spring, so feel free to move around until you find the right spot. 

Though the onsen is typically separated for males and females, mixed bathing is available every Friday. Families and couples can don swimwear or cover themselves in towels, and enjoy a relaxing soak together in the spacious bath. 

Onsen in Japan - Sainokawara RotenburoImage credit: @maitake__food

Admission: ¥700 (~USD4.84) for adults, ¥350 (~USD2.42) for children aged 3 to 12
Address: 521-3 Kusatsu, Agatsuma District, 377-1711 Gunma
Opening hours: 7am-8pm, Daily (Last admission at 7.30pm) (Apr-Nov) | 9am-8pm, Daily (Last admission at 7.30pm) (Dec-Mar)
Contact: 0279-88-6167 | Sainokawara Rotenburo Website

5. Renge Onsen Lodge – Niigata

Onsen in Japan - Renge Onsen LodgeSenki no Yu, one of the open-air onsen found along the trail.
Image credit: Niigata Prefectural Tourist Association

Renge Onsen Lodge (蓮華温泉ロッジ), situated at an altitude of 1,475m and halfway up the Mount Korenge in Niigata Prefecture, promises a respite from the crowd. 

This serves as a resting stop for hikers and climbers scaling Mount Shirouma, so don’t expect a fancy onsen ryokan. Instead, the mountain lodge comes with basic amenities, such as towels and a bed to crash for the night. There are no TVs and lights are turned off after 9pm daily.

Onsen in Japan - Renge Onsen LodgeImage credit: Niigata Prefectural Tourist Association

The lodge’s biggest draws are the 4 outdoor baths, accessible 5 to 15 minutes on foot, which are scattered along a mountain path. Of the 4 outdoor onsen available, Senki no Yu (仙気ノ湯) is the largest and provides a superb view of the nearby mountains dyed with rich autumnal hues.   

The hiking route is only open seasonally from late March to around midOctober, and the mountain lodge is in operation only when the route is open. Operating periods are announced via their official website, so be sure to do a quick check before heading there.

Note that there are no changing rooms available near the springs, so you’ll have to place your clothes on stones or the ground. 

Onsen in Japan - Renge Onsen Lodge
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Renge Onsen Lodge (for outdoor onsen)
Address: 991 Otokoro, Itoigawa, 949-0464 Niigata
Contact: 9025-24-7237 | Renge Onsen Lodge Website

Outdoor onsen
Rates: ¥500 (~USD3.46) for adults, ¥200 (~USD1.38) for children
Opening hours: 10am-5pm, Daily (Last admission at 4.30pm) (Mar-May & Jul-Oct) (Irregular hours, so check their website)
Contact: 9025-24-7237 | Renge Onsen Lodge Website

6. Maguse Onsen – Nagano

Onsen in Japan - Maguse Onsen
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Maguse Onsen (馬曲温泉) is surrounded by the mountains of Northern Nagano and renowned for its open-air onsen. Here, you can take in the cool autumn air and majestic scenery which overlooks Mount Kōsha and the distant Japanese Alps. 

Onsen in Japan - Maguse OnsenImage credit: @maguseonsen_boukyounoyu

After enjoying a soak in the great outdoors, head over to its indoor bath. The tub is made from Japanese cypress, resulting in a unique earthy aroma within the bathhouse. It is also here where the shower and toiletries are equipped, so be sure to wash yourself thoroughly before and after you visit the hot spring.  

Admission: ¥500 (~USD3.46) for adults, ¥200 (~USD1.38) for elementary school students
Address: 5567-1, Shimotakai, Ogo, Kijimadaira, Shimotakai District, 389-2302 Nagano
Opening hours: Thu-Tue 8am-8pm (Closed on Wednesdays) (Last admission at 7.30pm)
Contact: 0269-82-4028 | Maguse Onsen Website

7. Hotel Iya Onsen – Tokushima

Onsen in Japan - Hotel Iya OnsenKeikoku no Yu,
Image credit: @hotel_iyaonsen

Dubbed the “Tibet of Japan”, the remote Iya Valley that’s found in Tokushima is known for its hot springs. Hotel Iya Onsen (ホテル祖谷温泉), the only hotel in the secluded region, lies within the mountains and is surrounded by an abundance of nature. 

There, you can enjoy 2 outdoor springs, Seseragi no Yu (せせらぎの湯) and Keikoku no Yu (渓谷の湯), which are situated right next to the Iya River. The peaceful environment and rhythmic gushing of the river is sure to relieve your stress as you soak in the onsen.

Onsen in Japan - Hotel Iya OnsenImage credit:

To get to the onsen that’s at the bottom of the valley, guests will have to board a cable car. The 170m ride takes around 5 minutes more than enough time to admire the fall colours blanketing the valley – to get you to your destination

Onsen in Japan - Hotel Iya Onsen
Image credit:
Iya Onsen

Address: Matsumoto-367-28 Ikedacho Matsuo, Miyoshi, 778-0165 Tokushima
Contact: 0883-75-2311 | Hotel Iya Onsen Website

Open-air onsen 
Admission: Free for hotel guests, ¥1,700 (~USD11.75) for adults (day use), ¥900 (~USD6.22) for children (day use)
Opening hours (for hotel guests): 7am-9pm, Daily (Mar-Dec) | 7am-7pm, Daily (Jan-Feb)
Opening hours (for day use): 7.30am-6pm, Daily (Last entry at 5pm)

8. Kurokawa Onsen – Kumamoto

Onsen in Japan - Kurokawa Onsen
Image credit: Kurokawa Onsen

One of the most popular onsen towns among Japanese tourists, Kurokawa Onsen (黒川温泉) is home to an abundance of quaint traditional inns and natural hot springs. 

Along the Tanoharu River lies around 30 inns. As the locals consider the individual inns and surrounding woodlands to be part of a single entity (黒川温泉一旅館; kurokawa onsen ichi ryokan), the architecture found in the charming townscape is uniform and characterised by their earthly tones that blend seamlessly into nature. 

In autumn, visitors can enjoy a pleasant stroll through the picturesque town and take in views of the fall foliage.

Onsen in Japan - Kurokawa Onsen
Image credit: @kurokawaonsen

Though the town centre is pretty spectacular on its own with plenty of hot spring establishments to patronise, visitors can venture further away for larger outdoors baths with better autumnal views that tend to be nestled away in quieter areas. 

To fully immerse yourself in the traditional atmosphere of Kurokawa Onsen, it is recommended that you stay at least one night here. However, if you’re pressed for time, get the nyūtō tegata (入湯手形), a pass which allows you to enjoy 3 onsen of your choice, out of the 27 available.

Each pass costs ¥1,300 (~USD9.00), and is valid for 6 months. Considering that admission into each onsen averages ¥500- ¥600 (~USD3.46- USD4.15), the pass gives you a bang for your buck, and especially so if you’re planning to embark on an onsen-hopping tour.

Onsen in Japan - Kurokawa Onsen
Image credit: @kurokawaonsen

Address: Kurokawa Sakuradōri, Minami Oguni Machi, Aso, 869-2402 Kumamoto
Contact: 0967-44-0076 | Kurokawa Onsen Website

Most beautiful onsen in Japan to visit in autumn

Whether it’s onsen towns or a humble mountain lodge, these most beautiful onsen in Japan promise breathtaking fall foliage views not to be missed. 

If it’s your first time visiting an onsen, read our guide on the dos and don’ts to avoid committing any social faux pas. 

For more, check out: 

Cover image adapted from (left to right): @yama_on_sena, Niigata Prefectural Tourist Association, and Yamanakako Tourist Association