In this Japanese countryside where being one with nature is the definition of wellness, the greatest pleasure is to indulge oneself in hot spring bathing while enjoying the stillness of nature. Akita, a region northwest of Japan’s main island, is the perfect destination for any traveler seeking to slow down and get away from the crowds. Find the perfect place to retreat into by choosing any one of these 15 best onsen ryokans in the area.
Famous for its ten hot spring sources exhibiting different water qualities, Nyuto is an onsen district where you can really appreciate the various healing properties of hot spring bathing. Purchase a Yumeguri pass to enjoy the onsen facilities of participating ryokans (there are a total of 7 inns), as well as complimentary transport services between resorts.
Tsurunoyu Onsen was established in the 1600’s, and is Nyuto’s oldest and most popular establishment. With its long history, the inn’s atmosphere is very rustic, traditional, and complementary to the old forest that surrounds it. It boasts of four bathing areas, each coming from a different spring source and thus, exhibiting different mineral properties.
Address: Sendatsuzawa Kokuyurin 50, Tazawaji, Tazawako, Semboku-shi, Akita
Price: From ¥8,790 / room
For a taste of sophistication in the middle of nowhere, there’s Taenoyu Onsen. This inn is known for its elegant wooden interiors, attentive hospitality, and carefully designed indoor and outdoor bathing areas that capitalize on the area’s beautiful scenery. It has two spring sources and five bathing facilities – one of which is an open-air infinity pool-type of bath overlooking a streaming waterfall.
Address: Komagatake-2-1 Tazawako Obonai, Akita Prefecture
Price: From ¥13,068 / room (exclusive of tax)
Website: http://www.taenoyu.com/ (Japanese only)
Named after the crabs (gani/kani) that are abundant in the area, Ganiba Onsen is a place that lets its visitors enjoy a more stripped and raw onsen experience. The open-air hot springs are detached from the sleeping quarters and require a few minutes-walk under a canopy of trees. Once there, blending in with the surroundings is perfectly possible. See, hear, and feel nature as you soak in the warm waters of this onsen retreat.
Address: Sendatsu Kokuyurin, Tazawaji, Tazawako, Semboku-shi, Akita
Price: From ¥9,870 / room
An onsen ryokan that has been in existence for more than 300 years already, Kuroyu Onsen is a hot spring destination that suspends you in its own time zone. It is tucked away in the depths of Towada Hachimantai National Park’s mountains, where its rustic lodgings and backcountry setting invite anyone who wander here to succumb to its simple and slow-paced way of life. Its sulfur-rich onsen water is believed to help heal skin diseases and detoxify the body, and on top of the usual indoor and outdoor baths, Kuroyu Onsen also has a cascading onsen where guests can enjoy a relieving water-pressure massage.
Address: Kuroyuzawa-2-1 Tazawako Obonai, Semboku-shi, Akita
Price: From ¥12,030 / room
Website: http://www.kuroyu.com/ (Japanese only)
Magoroku Onsen’s rural charms are inescapable. It requires a short hike to get there, but only because it is nestled in a more secluded part of Nyuto Onsen district. Upon arriving, guests will be welcomed by clusters of black, wooden houses and onsen huts built on stone walls that line the banks of a clear mountain stream. Same with Kuroyu Onsen, Magoroku features a hot spring “waterfalls” bath, which is just the perfect treatment to soothe the tired muscles of any weary traveler. If you like it simple and intimate, this piece onsen paradise is for you.
Address: Sendatsuzawa Kokuyūrin Tazawako Tazawa Senboku-shi, Akita
Price: From ¥11,880 / room
An onsen village located nearby popular tourist areas such as Lake Tazawa and Tazawa Ski Resort, Mizusawa Onsen is a great choice for those who are looking to combine an authentic Akita hot spring experience with other sightseeing activities.
An onsen ryokan situated in between two mountain streams, Komagatake Onsen is a peaceful place to immerse in the healing effects of nature by means of serene surroundings, hot spring baths, and hearty meals. Enjoy the inn’s serving of soba noodles and the local specialty Yamanoimo nabe (Japanese yam hotpot). And as for the rooms, take your pick between Japanese or Western-style accommodations, whichever is more comfortable for you.
Address: Shimotakano-80-68 Tazawako Obonai, Senboku-shi, Akita-ken
Price: From ¥9,500 / room
Website: http://www.komagatake.com/ (Japanese only)
Mizusawa Sanso is one of the most popular lodgings in the area. Its offerings are quite straightforward but delivered more than satisfactorily – clean and comfortable rooms, tasty Akita cuisine, relaxing nature views, indoor and outdoor onsen baths, and reasonable prices.
Address: Shimotakano-73-10 Tazawako Obonai, Senboku-shi, Akita-ken
Price: From ¥8,790 / room
Website: http://www.tsukamoto-sogyo.co.jp/mizusawa/ (Japanese only)
Up on a plateau with a good view of Lake Tazawa and surrounded by the greenery of Mt. Komagatake, Tazawako Onsen village is popular among vacationers who look to spend time in nature but still want the luxuries and modern conveniences of a hotel ryokan at their disposal.
Komagatake Grand Hotel
At Komagatake Grand Hotel, you can bathe, feast, and unwind to your heart’s content. This onsen hotel has everything you can ask for to have the most rejuvenating downtime. Their onsen bathing facilities are fed directly from the source, and the nurturing continues at the dining hall where mouthwatering dishes await each guest. They serve the best of Akita’s cuisine such as Kiritanpo Nabe (Rice stick hot pot), Yamanoime Nabe (Japanese yam hot pot), and Akita wagyu shabu-shabu. In terms of accommodation, both Japanese and Western-style rooms are available.
Address: 2-30 Tazawako Obonai Komagatake, Semboku-shi, Akita
Price: From ¥17,280 / room
Website: http://sanrok-komagatake.com/ (Japanese only)
Tazawa Plateau Hotel
What’s great about Tazawa Plateau Hotel is that it gives you a choice of how close to nature you’d like to get. Its standard offering is a Japanese tatami room in their hotel building surrounded by a beech forest. However, if you fancy something more intimate, you can opt to stay in a cottage instead. All rooms in this property are spacious enough to accommodate small groups of 5-7 people, and aside from its forest ambiance, guests can also look forward to its wooden baths and its delicious serving of Kiritanpo Nabe.
Address: 2-36 Tazawako Obonai Komagatake, Semboku-shi, Akita
Price: From ¥14,040 / person
Website: http://www.plateau.jp/ (Japanese only)
Plaza Hotel Sanrokusou
There is something special that draws people – most especially women, to stay at Plaza Hotel Sanrokusou. Aside from the warm onsen baths, comfortable lodgings, gourmet food, and calm ambiance, it also has a cedar enzyme bath – a therapeutic body treatment wherein you lie and get yourself covered in a warm mixture of ground cedar and rice bran. This process is said to help beautify the skin, improve body chemistry, and provide relief for muscle and joint pains.
Address: 2-32 Tazawako Obonai Komagatake, Semboku-shi, Akita
Price: From ¥8,640 / room
Website: http://sanrokusou.com/ (Japanese only)
Located on the slopes of Mt. Hachimantai within the jurisdiction of the Towada-Hachimantai National Park, Goshogake Onsen is a popular natural spa destination not just for its hot springs, but also for its mud. As it sits nearby numerous mud volcanoes – one of which is Odoro Volcano, the largest in Japan, Goshogake is likewise ideal for mud therapy sessions. Feel toxins leave your body as you literally soak in the goodness of nature.
Address: Kumazawa Kokuyurin Hachimantai, Kazuno-shi, Akita
Price: From ¥9,720 / room
Website: http://www.goshougake.com/ (Japanese only)
Natsuse Onsen Miyakowasure
Miyakowasure, whose literal meaning is to forget the city, is the only ryokan in Natsuse Onsen. Aptly named, it is a place wherein the outside world disappears, and is replaced with just the sights and sounds of nature. It is very exclusive as well, as there are only 10 rooms in this ryokan, each fitted with its own private open-air bath. There are no other properties in the vicinity, so guests can really savor an intimate time during their stay.
Address: Natsuse-84 Tazawako Sotsuda, Semboku-shi, Akita
Price: From ¥27,780 / room
Known for hot springs with the highest acidity in the country, Tamagawa Onsen is a class above the rest when it comes to therapeutic benefits. More than just a tourist area, people from all over Japan come to this place with healing in mind. Facilities include wooden baths, wooden steam boxes, and an indoor bedrock bath. Lodgings are simple but are designed for comfort. There are also self-catering sections where guests can cook their own meals and do their own laundry during their stay.
Address: Shibukurosawa Tazawako Tamagawa, Senboku-shi, Akita
Price: From ¥16,667 / room
Motoyu Club is an onsen ryokan within the vicinity of the beautiful Oyasu Gorges – a place in Akita known for its steaming geysers. It is a mid-sized inn of twelve rooms that can accommodate solo travelers, couples, and even large groups of up to eight people. They have several hot spring baths with a nice view of the surroundings that change dramatically with the seasons, while the accommodation plans include sumptuous meals that feature local specialties.
Address: 100-1 Yumoto Minase, Yuzawa-shi, Akita
Price: From ¥11,000 / room
Website: http://motoyukurabu.jp/ (Japanese only)
Hatahatakan is the only onsen ryokan in this list that faces the sea. It is located in a tranquil fishing village facing the Sea of Japan, but at the same time, it is close enough to Shirakami-Sanchi – a vast mountain range famous for one of the world’s largest virgin beech forests. Hence, it is a perfect base for a sea to summit exploration of Akita’s natural wonders, and in between adventures, there’s an onsen bath to relax in.
Address: Goshonodai-51 Hachimori, Happo-cho, Yamamoto-gun, Akita
Price: From ¥6,730 / room
Website: http://www.hatahatakan.jp/ (Japanese only)
All price information in this article is as of January 2018.
Thumbnail image is from Flickr.