Hirugami is a popular hot spring area surrounded by the Japanese Alps in the southern part of Nagano Prefecture. Many Onsen Hotels are located next to a river sourced by the pure mountain streams. You can enjoy a walk along the river before indulging a warm and relaxing bath.
If you have climbed mountains of the Japanese Alps or tall volcanoes like mount Fuji, you know how good it feels to bath in a hot spring after a hard day of hiking. Now imagine you arrive at your campsite with a natural outdoor onsen waiting for you with an amazing scenery. This is the dream waiting for you at Hakubayari Onsen, the highest onsen in Japan.
A mountain hut is built every spring next to the hot spring and disassembled in fall before avalanche season. A tentsite with limited space is also located next to the hot spring (all spaces were filled by noon on the day of our hike). A small cafeteria serves a simple dinner in the evening and staff can prepare cup noodles at lunchtime. More importantly, they sell beer. Yes, Japanese mountain climbing usually involves beer and most guest of Hakubayari onsen can be seen with a beer in hand at some time during their stay.
The hut is actually on the way to Hakuba-Yarigatake, a prominent peak in the region. We started our climb of Yarigatake from the hut at around 6 in the morning and summited at around 10:30. The view was spectacular. We could see mount Shirouma, Mount Tateyama, mount Kashima-Yarigatake, and Kurobe Damm.
The trail we took back and forth to the summit starts from the Sarukura parking lot. We got a ride from familly member but I know that taxis will drive you up there from Hakuba station.
The Ogawaya onsen hotel is conveniently located in the famous hot spring town of Gero. Only a few minutes walk from the train station, the hotel features spacious bedrooms and both indoor and outdoor baths with a great view of Hida river. The room we were given was especially large and very well maintained. As with all Japanese ryokans, comfortable futons were laid on the tatami mats for us during dinner. A seating area in front of the window offered an especially great nighttime view of Gero.
Gero, located in Gifu prefecture, is one of the famous hot spring towns of Japan. Its proximity to Takayama allows to practically combine the two destinations in an overnight trip from Nagoya. Many hotels in Gero offer the typical Japanese onsen experience: comfortable hotel rooms and relaxing japanese hot bath.
Hotel Chikurakutei is a hot spring resort located in the town of Minamiaso. The hotel features many cottages each having a small private garden and outdoor hot bath. Various sections of the hotel are linked together by covered outdoor walkways surrounded by trees and flowers. The hotel also features a large main public Onsen with indoor and outdoor baths. The restaurant serves delicious food and the personnel of the hotel offered us a very warm welcome. I highly recommend this hotel.
The Shibaseki District is one of the two sites where the Hells of Beppu are located, the other being the Kannawa District. Two Hells are located in this district. The nicest, in my opinion, is Chinoike Jigoku “blood pond hell”. It is tought by some to be the most photogenic of all Hells. The other one, Tatsumaki Jigoku, is a geyser that erupts at a regular time interval (twice per hour).
Beppu is renowned as one of the best hot spring towns of all Japan. Thanks to the region’s volcanic activity, plenty of hot water heated deep in the Earth’s crust flows to the sufrace and supplies the many Onsen resorts of the city.
The hells of Beppu (jigoku) are found in two districts, the Shibaseki district and Kannawa district, which is shown here. They are tourist attractions featuring hot springs. While some of them are quite impressive, their quality is not equal and one may wish to choose to visit only some of the most spectacular.
In my opinion, the Kannawa district has the nicest hells and is much easier to access compared to the Shibaseki district. My top picks are without hesitation the Umi Jigoku (sea hell) and Oniishibozu Jigoku which are located to the West of Kannawa District. In addition to the hot springs, the two hells boast beautiful gardens.