This beautiful location in Daisetsuzan National Park is an onsen must-visit.

In Japanese there’s a word, shinrinyoku, which refers to spending time in a forest to relax and be soothed by the serenity and beauty of the natural environment. Shinrinyoku literally translates as “forest bathing,” a metaphorical allusion to the power of nature to cleanse your spirit, but there’s a place in Hokkaido where you can experience “forest bathing” in its literal sense too.

Our recent travels in Japan’s northernmost prefecture took us to Daisetsuzan National Park. Our first stop was Hakuginso, an onsen (hot spring) bathing facility famously featured in 2019 Japanese TV drama Sado.

Hakuginso has a nice open-air bath (though they don’t allow photography), and at 700 yen (US$5) for adult admission, it’s reasonably priced for a popular onsen. It’s also reachable without a car, something that’s not always true for hot spring facilities in the mountains, thanks to busses that run three times a day from Kami-Furano Station.

But if you really want to enjoy shinrinyoku and hot spring bathing at the same time, what you should do is head west on the road that runs in front of Hakuginso, as shown on the map here.

Before long, you’ll spot a parking lot (it’s about an eight minute walk if you’re not going by car) with sign saying Fukiage Onsen (吹上温泉).

A walking path that starts in the parking lot leads into the forest…

…and after walking for about 100 meters (328 feet), you’ll come to this ridge.

A stairway heads downwards from here, and leads to two all-natural hot spring pools to soak in.

Not only are the views incredible, the springs, known as Fukiage Roten no Yu (the Fukiage Outdoor Baths), are completely free to use!

There are a couple of things to be aware of before you visit. First, unlike at many other hot springs, the two pools here aren’t separated into men’s and women’s pools, because Fukiage Roten no Yu are konyoku, or mixed men’s and women’s, hot springs.

Instead, the upper pool here is the hotter one, and the lower pool the cooler one. On the day we stopped by, the upper pool was scalding hot. We’d guess it was about 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit), which probably feels great during Hokkaido’s snowy winters, but not so much in late summer. The lower pool, by comparison, was a much more tolerable, and rejuvenating, heat, though still around 40 degrees Celsius, we’d estimate.

Second, there aren’t any attendants or amenities provided, so you’ll want to bring a towel with you to dry off with once you get out of the spring.

▼ Thankfully we’d purchased a 200-yen towel at Hakuginso right before coming here.

And last, and perhaps most importantly, there’s no changing room at Fukiage Roten no Yu, so any undressing you’re doing is going to have to take place out in the open.

There is one significant concession made towards modesty at Fukiage Roten no Yu, though, in that women are allowed to wear a bathing suit while in the spring, so changing into one before you arrive, putting your street clothes on over it, and then removing your outer layer of clothing once you get to the springs is an option. For men, though (and all of the people in the pools when we visited were men), bathing suits aren’t allowed, although you can sit outside the pool, dangle your legs into the water, and cover your lap with a towel.

Overall, Fukiage Roten no Yu is a very unique experience, even by Japanese hot spring standards, but it’s one we’ll never forget, and we imagine it’s even better when the surrounding mountains are blanketed in snow and you’re keeping yourself nice and warm in that upper pool.

Location information
Hakuginso / 白銀荘
Address: Hokkaido, Sorachi-gun, Kamifurano, Fukiage Onsen

Photos ©SoraNews24
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