Many ski resorts in Japan are also onsen (hot spring) resorts, hence the popular Japanese ritual of Ski and Soak. Soaking in an onsen to relax tired muscles after an exhilarating day on the slopes makes the Japanese skiing experience unforgettable.
Pictured above, Nyuto Onsen is a collection of Seven onsen ryokans in the mountains nearby Tazawako Ski Resort in Akita Prefecture. It is one of Japan’s choicest hot springs and a must-list for any aspiring onsen aficionado. The most storied onsen in Nyuto, Tsuru-no-yu has been in the business for almost four centuries. The reason for its enduring fame is its mineral-rich spring containing sulphur, sodium, calcium chloride and carbonic acid, which combine to produce a distictive milky-white colour. Getting Nyuto Onsen, take the Akita Shinkansen to Tazawako station and from there, Nyuto Onsen is a 30 minute bus ride into the mountain above the picturesque caldera lake Tazawako.
Sukayu is a mountainous hot spring in Aomori Prefecture. The 300 year-old facility is a rustic timber building, the oldest in Hakkoda area. Getting to Sukayu is easy as there is 3.5 hour direct train from Tokyo to Shin-Aomori. From there it is a 60 minute bus ride to the Sanroku Ropeway Station at the base of the Hakkoda ski area and the next stop, Sukayu Onsen.
Ginzan Onsen in Yamagata Prefecture looks curiously like a movie set. It’s most popular in the winter when snow adds a dreamy touch to the wooden eaves and surrounding mountains. Notoya Ryokan, one of the grandest in Ginzan, is a fine choice. The three structure, compete with balconies, elaborate woodwork and a curious garret tower, dates from 1922. Ginzan Onsen is in easy striking distance of Yamagata. Take the JR Yamagata shinkansen to its terminus in Oishida, then transfer to one of up to five daily buses leaving for Ginzan Onsen from the west ext bus pool.
Zao Onsen, located in Yamagata city in the northern region of Tokyo, is traditional Japanese hot springs with 1900 year s of history. With the source of strong acidic sulfur springs, the skin and blood vessel rejuvenation and skin beautifying effects of Zao Onsen are the reason why it is called the “Springs of Beauty”. Take the JR Yamagata shinkansen from Tokyo to Yamagata (2.5 hours) and transfer to a bus to Zao Onsen (40 minutes).