Onsens in Tokyo – Relax Your Mind, Body and Soul
Tokyo's onsens are some of the best in the world. Some are highly traditional, others ultra-modern, but which of Tokyo's onsens is for you? Our guide to the world of Tokyo onsens will help you decide.
This article will introduce you to the world of Japanese baths, otherwise know as the onsen. After a brief lesson in onsen etiquette, we will list several of the best onsens in Tokyo for your pleasure and enjoyment.
Introduction to Onsen
In Japan, onsens are referred to as hot springs, also incorporating the bathing facilities around the hot springs. The water from these onsens is often of volcanic origins, and with over a hundred volcanos in the country, it is no surprise that Japan has over 9000 onsens. This volcanic water is said to be rich in minerals; minerals believed to pass on healing properties to bathers.
Not only do people clean themselves at these onsens, they relax and socialize. “Hadaka no tsukiai” is a Japanese saying that means naked relationship – unfettered by the barrier of clothing, walls are broken down between individuals, and a better rapport is created. Like the late Kurt Cobain once said, “come as you are.” Except those with tattoos, that is. Tattoos are often associated with Japanese gangs (Yakuza) and thus most onsens will refuse entrance to those sporting them. However today, with an influx of foreign tourists, more and more onsens are relaxing their bans on tattoos.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Enjoying Onsen
Step 1: While in the locker room, take off all your clothes and put them in the basket provided. Be proud of your body!
Step 2: Ensure you bring a wash towel into the bathing facility with you.
Step 3: Proceed to the shower area and clean yourself thoroughly.
Step 4: Upon thorough cleansing, you may now enjoy a dip in the pool.
Step 5: Stay in the pool to your heart’s content or when you start feeling woozy.
Step 6: Before leaving for the locker room, gently wipe yourself dry with your wash towel.
DON’T stare at others. Didn’t your mama teach you any manners?
DON’T swim in the pool.
DON’T make waves and splash about in the pool. Even hippos are majestic creatures in the water!
DON’T put your wash cloth in the pool.
DO put your wash cloth on your head or on the edge of the pool when you enter the pool.
DO be respectful of others.
DO enjoy yourself.
Top Tokyo Onsens
While Tokyo is no Beppu (the onsen capital of Japan and the world), the Japanese capital does have several relaxing onsens to choose from. Here is a walkthrough of some of the best.
1. Niwa No Yu
Head over to Niwa No Yu after a long day at the Toshimaen amusement park next door. Included in the admission fee are towels and loungewear so don’t worry if you’ve forgotten yours. This onsen is also couple-friendly with its Finnish-style sauna, but be sure to wear your swimsuit in these co-ed areas.
Address: 3-25-1 Koyama, Nerima, Tokyo 176-0022
Closest station: Toshimaen
Price: 2,250 yen or 1,260 yen after 6:00PM on weekdays
Hours: SAT-SUN 10:00AM-11:00PM
2. Spa LaQua
Situated inside shopping center Tokyo Dome City, Spa LaQua takes up several floors with its many facilities. The water in this onsen comes from Koishikawa, a hot spring which is said to be particularly beneficial to the skin.
Address: 1-1-1 Kasuga, Bunkyo, Tokyo 112-0003
Closest station: Korakuen or Kasuga
Price: 2,634 yen with an additional fee of 324 yen on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays (and an extra charge of 1,944 yen for staying past 1:00AM)
Hours: SAT-SUN 11:00AM-9:00AM (closed between 9:00AM-11:00AM)
3. Maenohara Onsen (Saya No Yudokoro)
This onsen sources its water from the Itabashi-Maeno hot spring, 1500 metres underground and rich in sodium chloride; very good for nerve, chronic and general pain. Maenohara onsen also has a ganbanyoku hot stone bath reserved for adults and with an additional charge of 720 yen.
Address: 3-41-1 Maenocho, Itabashi, Tokyo 174-0063
Closest station: Shimura-sakaue
Price: Weekdays: 830 yen for adults, 520 yen for children, weekends and holidays: 1,030 yen for adults, 720 yen for children
Hours: SAT-SUN 10:00AM-1:00AM (last admission 12:00AM(midnight))
4. Tokyo Somei Onsen Sakura
With a free shuttle bus from Sugamo Station, this one couldn’t be easier to get to. Tokyo Somei Onsen Sakura’s water will give you the skin of a fair maiden, and if it doesn’t, mud masks are available to help the process along. It is best to go during cherry blossom season as there are several cherry blossom trees on-site.
Address: 5-4-24 Komagome, Toshima, Tokyo 170-0003
Closest station: Sugamo
Price: 1,296 yen for adults, 756 yen for children
Hours: SUN-SAT 10:00AM-11:00PM
5. Tokyo Odaiba Oedo Onsen Monogatari
Odaiba Odeo Onsen Monogatari is an Edo-themed onsen resort on Odaiba Island, replete with streets of restaurants and carnival games, all reminiscent of the Tokyo of old. Explore dressed in a pre-provided yukata and try the several types of baths on offer. Alternatively, have fish nibble away at your feet’s dead skin with “fish therapy”. What a unique experience!
Address: 2-6-3 Aomi, Koto, Tokyo 135-0064
Closest station: Telecom Center
Price: Adults: 2,480 yen on weekdays (1980 yen after 6:00PM), 2,680 yen on weekends (2180 yen after 6:00PM) with an extra charge of 2000 yen for staying past 2:00AM. Children: 1,000 yen.
Hours: SAT-SUN 11:00AM-9:00AM (last admission 7:00AM; closed between 9:00AM-11:00AM)
6. Seoto No Yu
A fair distance away from the city and quite difficult to get to (bus from the station necessary). But, once at Seotonoyu, you’ll be rewarded with water sourced from the Akigawa Valley and pleasant views of lush green forests while you soak.
Address: 565 Otsu, Akiruno, Tokyo 190-0174
Closest station: Musashi-Itsukaichi
Price: Adults: 200 yen for 1 hour; 900 yen for 3 hours, Children: 100 yen for 1 hour; 450 yen for 3 hours
Hours: SAT-SUN 10:00AM-10:00PM
After exploring Senso-ji (Asakusa Kannon Temple), head over to Jakotsuyu to rest your sore legs and revitalize yourself. This onsen has been around since the Edo period, so immerse yourself in history and water at the same time.
Address: 1-11-11 Asakusa, Taito, Tokyo 111-0032
Closest station: Asakusa
Price: 450 yen for adults, 180 yen for children, 80 yen for infants
Hours: WED-MON 1:00PM-12:00AM (midnight), TUE Closed
8. Musashi-Koyama Onsen Shimizu Yu
Situated in a quiet neighborhood, Musashi-Koyama Onsen Shimizu Yu provides a great escape for families from everyday life. This onsen has two types of hot springs: Golden hot spring (Ougon No Yu) and Black hot spring (Kuroyu onsen). Yes, the waters of these onsens are literally gold and black respectively. For an additional 50 yen, you can enjoy an egg that was cooked in the Black hot spring.
Address: 3-9-1 Koyama, Shinagawa, Tokyo 142-0062
Closest station: Musashi-Koyama
Price: 460 yen for adults; an additional 400 yen for sauna use
Hours: MON Closed, TUE-SAT 12:00PM (midday)-12:00AM (midnight), SUN and holidays 8:00AM-12:00AM (midnight)
9. Myojin No Yu
This onsen is incredibly traditional; it’s like stepping into a scene from post-war Japan with its covered wooden walls and planks. Enjoy your soak in a cypress-wood tub for prices that range.
Address: 1-18-1 Oyata, Adachi, Tokyo 120-0001
Closest station: Kita-Ayase
Price: Weekdays: 900 yen for adults; 500 yen for children; 800 yen for seniors, Weekends: 1,200 yen for adults, 600 yen for children; 800 yen for seniors. Every Monday is couples day (1,400 yen for both) and every Tuesday is ladies day (700 yen).
Hours: SUN-SAT 10:00AM-12:00AM(midnight)
10. Moegi No Yu
Located in Okutama, surrounded by trails, streams and nature, Moegi No Yu is the perfect place to wind down after exploring the wilderness.
Address: 119-1, Hikawa, Okutama, Nishitama, Tokyo 198-0212
Closest station: Okutama
Price: 780 yen for 2 hours for adults, 200 yen per hour thereafter
Hours: TUE-SUN 9:30AM-8:00PM, MON Closed
11. Take No Yu
Opened in 1913, shopkeeper Tadashi Matsui takes good care of the water here. The black brown goodness that comes out the taps is sourced from the Azabu Kokubisui hot spring and is much sought after; it can be bought for 20 yen a bottle and you can even wash your clothes in it with the on-site laundromat. Wash and dry your clothes while you soak.
Address: 1-15-12 Minami-azabu, Minato, Tokyo 106-0047
Closest station: Azabu Juban
Price: 460 yen for adults, 180 yen for children
Hours: TUE-THU 3:30PM-11:30PM, SAT&SUN 3:30PM-11:30PM, MON&FRI Closed
12. Pokapoka Land Takaban no Yu
Located in a modern building, Pokapoka Land Takaban no Yu does not have a traditional feel to it. However, at 385 yen, it does the trick. The purple water from the onsen is sure to relieve you of your stress.
Address: 2-2-1 Takaban, Meguro, Tokyo 152-0004
Closest station: Gakugei-daigaku
Price: 385 yen for adults
Hours: SAT-THU 3:00PM-1:00AM, Holidays 2:00PM-1:00AM, FRI Closed
13. Spa Otemachi Fitness Club
Spa Otemachi Fitness Club, as the name suggests, is more than an onsen. This facility believes in the motto, “heart x beauty x body.” It has a fully decked out gym, swimming pool, yoga studio, and of course, an onsen. This onsen is the first of its kind, Mitsubishi Estate Company sourcing and pumping the water from a hot spring 1500 m below. This facility is members only and mainly aimed at busy professionals; however, visitors are allowed to use the facility during the weekends and holidays.
Address: Otemachi Financial City Grand Cube B1F, 1-9-2 Otemachi, Chiyoda, Tokyo 100-0004
Closest station: Otemachi
Price: Visitor (weekends only): 5,400 yen for 300 minutes; 3,240 yen for 120 minutes, Membership: admission fee of 21,600 yen + administrative fee of 3,240 yen + monthly fee of 19,440 yen
Hours: Weekdays 7:00PM-11:00PM, Weekends and holidays 10:00AM-7:00PM