Countries we love: Japan – Food, Onsen and Joy

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Food & Onsen in Japan

Contributed by feature reporter Jens Hoffmann

The most traditional Japanese meal is a serving of plain, white rice, along with a main dish (fish or meat), some kind of side dish (often cooked vegetables), soup (either miso soup or clear broth), and pickled vegetables.

It is always joyful, especially fish is my style.

At the end of the day we usually went to an Onsen.

Hot tubs are relaxing, very relaxing especially after a relaxing tuna joy.

They are naturally occurring and boast unique health benefits, something that hot tubs simply cannot even come close with.

Onsen are an incredible part of Japanese culture and there are some that define a region.

Here some you iconic traditional Onsen, each offering a unique blend of rejuvenating mineral water, mesmerizing landscapes, and cultural immersion.

From historic bath houses to secluded mountain retreats, these destinations promise an unforgettable experience that goes beyond the ordinary.

So, pack your sense of adventure and get ready to soak in the best of Japan.

Our Top 6:

1. Hoshi Onsen
2. Kinosaki Onsen
3. Matsudaya Hotel
4 Yunushi Ichijo
5. Kurokawa Onsen
6. Ginzan Onsen

1. Hoshi Onsen

Tucked away in the mountains of Gunma Prefecture, Hoshi Onsen offers a secluded escape from the hustle and bustle. Boasting 140 years since establishment, this wooden building will transport you away into the past. Though, the Onsen’s history stretches back even further than that; it is said that the onsen was discovered when the famous buddhist monk Kukai was doing his preaching tour. While most Onsen are divided between genders, the main bath here is not.

Gunma prefecture is a beautiful area surrounded by mountains and volcanos, famous for many great onsen and the birthplace of Daruma dolls!

2. Kinosaki Onsen

Picture this: seven public baths connected by willow-lined canals, creating a scene straight out of a traditional Japanese painting. Welcome to Kinosaki Onsen, a picturesque town in Hyogo Prefecture. Don a Yukata and wooden Geta sandals as you stroll between baths, taking in the serene atmosphere. The “Onsen hopping” tradition here is not just about bathing but also about experiencing the charm of each bathhouse and the local hospitality. Be sure to check out the rest of Hyogo as well, it boasts a lot of great activities, just like the rest of Kansai!
The Best Places to Visit in Hyogo
Kobe is the most known area in Hyogo prefecture but there are more attractions you can enjoy.

3. Matsudaya Hotel

Matsudaya hotel has a long history of over 300 years, undeniably impressive for an inn. If you want to (literally) be steeped in history, then this is a very good option for you. The inn has weathered many years but boasts impressive hospitality and facilities. Located just a bit north of Kyushu and just a bit west of Hiroshima in the Yamaguchi prefecture, this historic monument is the perfect place to absorb Japan’s Traditions. If you’re lucky enough to get a room overlooking the traditional garden, you’ll be left with nothing but impactful memories.

4. Yunushi Ichijo

Another establishment with a very long history is Miyagi prefecture’s Yunushi Ichijo. The story starts with a Lumberjack hitting a stone with his sickle about 600 years ago. Water started gushing out and since then the location became known as the Kamasaki Onsen, known for healing wounds. Yunushi Ichicho is a Luxury Ryokan mounted on this historic hot spring, ready for relaxation and opulent enjoyment. Some rooms are complete with private onsen for the best experience.

5. Kurokawa Onsen

Hidden in the lush valleys of Kyushu, Kurokawa Onsen offers a tranquil escape where simplicity meets natural beauty. What sets this Onsen village apart is its unique Onsen-hopping experience. Enjoy multiple stays in different Ryokans, each with its distinct charm and baths. As you wander between the thatched-roof inns, surrounded by verdant landscapes, you’ll find the perfect balance between relaxation and exploration. Head down a bit further south and enjoy the epic Takachiho gorge, or head west and see the equally epic Mt. Aso.

6. Ginzan Onsen

Transport yourself to the nostalgic ambiance of Ginzan Onsen in Yamagata, a charming hot spring town frozen in time. Lined with historic Ryokans illuminated by soft lantern light, the scene resembles a traditional Japanese postcard. Wander alongside the picturesque river, dipping into public baths along the way. Each of the buildings reflects the same exterior design, except for one, which was built by a renowned architect. This town will truly transport you away, and any of the Onsen will have you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.

Photos: @LCHLietzmann

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