Nothing’s nicer on a cold autumn day than a hot outdoor bath while gazing at the changing leaves.

Japan, being right on the ring of fire, has plenty of volcanoes, which means the ground is warm enough to produce natural hot springs, called “onsen” in Japanese. It’s part of Japanese culture to visit onsen resorts all across the country as a group with friends or family, much in the same way others might go to the beach.

Unlike the beach, though, onsen are a year-round event, though they’re understandably more popular in the colder parts of the year. It’s especially nice to visit a hot spring resort in spring when the cherry blossoms are blooming, and in fall, when the leaves are changing. In fact, there’s nothing better on a cold autumn day than to settle into a hot outdoor bath, when the air outside is crisp and cool, and watch the red and yellow leaves of autumn sway in the wind and flutter down to rest on the surface of the water.

▼ Yumoto Hounoya Onsen in Nara Prefecture

That sentiment is what probably led Japanese travel magazine “Jalan” to recently do a survey of the hot springs their readers most want to visit this fall. They compiled the top answers into this list of the ten most appealing hot springs in fall:

1. Awa no Yu’s Famous White Onsen (Nagano Prefecture)
2. Yu Asobi no Yado Gero Kanko Hotel (Gifu Prefecture)
3. Manza Prince Hotel (Gunma Prefecture)
4. Kagari Kisshotei (Ishikawa Prefecture)
5. Yamanaka-ko Onsen Benifuji no Yu Hot Spring (Yamanashi Prefecture)
6. Yumoto Hounoya (Nara Prefecture)
7. Momiji no Yu (Tochigi Prefecture)
8. Takumi no Yado Miyama Ouan (Gifu Prefecture)
9. Notoro Onsen Open Air Bath (Okayama prefecture)
10. Mori-no-Ideyu Onsen (Ibaraki Prefecture)

Each of these spas, and in some cases, onsen resorts, are situated in beautiful remote locations, often in forests and among trees. Some have huge baths or special waters, so the particular appeal between them varies, but one thing’s for sure: in each of these amazing places you’ll get to experience the beauty of fall.

Let’s take a look at the top five in detail.

1. Awa no Yu’s Famous White Onsen (Nagano Prefecture)

The top onsen on the list, Awa no Yu’s Famous White Onsen is known for its white waters; many people believe that if you soak in them for three days, you will have good health for three years. But the unusual water isn’t the only appeal; this onsen has a huge, open-air, co-ed bath surrounded by trees that transform into the reds, oranges, and yellows of autumn come November. This would be truly a wonderful place to relax, if you can get over the fact that the opposite sex will be there too!

2. Yu Asobi no Yado Gero Kanko Hotel (Gifu Prefecture)

Situated on top of a mountain and surrounded by trees, Gero Kanko Hotel is second on the list for good reason, as it has as many as five private, reservation-only baths, two of which have beautiful views of the foliage. Two others look over the nearby town of Gero and the Hida River, which are also undoubtedly beautiful views when the leaves of the trees around the river are changing.

3. Manza Prince Hotel (Gunma Prefecture)

The onsen at Manza Prince Hotel is an expansive 1,800 square meter (almost 6,000 square foot) outdoor bath famous for having one of highest content of sulfur in Japan. With beautiful yellow trees lining the slopes below the bath and a gorgeous view of rolling hills stretching out before it, one can feel completely immersed in nature while enjoying the hot water here, which is perfect for appreciating the changing of the leaves. No wonder it was voted as number three on the list.

4. Kagari Kisshotei (Ishikawa Prefecture)

View this post on Instagram

山中温泉 かがり吉祥亭 露天風呂 去年の誕生日に友達からプレゼントでもらった宿泊券🎫の期限が間近だったので、あわてて予約して行ってきました😎💕 (誕生日プレゼントに宿泊券ってめちゃめちゃうれしい) はじめての山中温泉、 はじめての加賀温泉郷です💓 平日しか対象じゃなかったので 母を誘って家族水入らずの旅となりました♡ 宿泊先は山中温泉かがり吉祥亭さん!新緑の美しい時期だったので露天風呂からながめる木々がまあ美しいこと☺️🌿 温泉街(ゆげ街道)の端っこの方ですが、のんびりぶらぶら出来たので立地も悪くないのではと。 北陸に来たからには蟹が食べたい!と親子で思っていましたが5月だったので蟹が出ることなく笑、次は蟹のシーズンに遊びにいきたいと思います♡笑 #かがり吉祥亭 #山中温泉 #加賀温泉郷 #石川の温泉 #露天風呂 #新緑 #ゆげ街道

A post shared by 温泉ソムリエ eri (@eri_1124) on

Situated near the Kakusenkei Gorges in Ishikawa Prefecture, Kagari Kisshotei is undoubtedly beautiful in fall. Just imagine all of that green lining the bath in the picture transformed into red, yellow, and orange! The open air bath in the picture is the woman’s bath, but the men’s bath also has a striking forest view. Kagari Kisshotei has a history of 1,300 years, and is said to have been loved by the famous Edo-period poet Bansho, so it’s absolutely worth visiting.

5. Yamanaka-ko Onsen Benifuji no Yu Hot Spring (Yamanashi Prefecture)

Benifuji-no-yu Hot Spring is understandably popular because its outdoor baths have a picture-perfect view of Mt. Fuji. Not only that, but a forest of lush trees stand between the spa and the mountain, which changes to a deep red in fall and make for a gorgeous, quintessentially Japanese view. At night the fall leaves are illuminated from below, so you can enjoy the colors at any time of day.

If you want to bask in the warmth of an outdoor bath, experience the benefits of bathing in anatural hot spring, and enjoy the changing of the seasons, all at the same time, then you can’t go wrong with visiting one of these lovely places this fall. Most of these picks are part of a ryokan, or a Japanese-style inn, which comes with the addeed benefits of a cozy tatami-style room and absolutely delicious multi-course traditional Japanese meals. For your next weekend or overnight getaway, or for a change of pace during your next vacation in Japan, consider staying in one of these gorgeous locations!

Source: PR Times via Japaaan
Images: PR Times
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!