As one of the leading travel destinations in the Kansai region, Osaka offers travelers the opportunity to immerse themselves in a modern, fast-paced lifestyle. With its reputation for mouth-watering street food, wild nightlife and fast-talking locals, travelers will find themselves fascinated by the vibrant cityscape of Osaka. However, after a hard day’s shopping in Umeda or exploring Osaka castle, your feet might be worse for wear! There is no better way to reinvigorate your body than to soak in the soothing waters of a Japanese hot spring!
An onsen is a Japanese hot spring and is a much beloved part of traditional culture in Japan. These hot springs are often praised for their mineral-rich waters and their multitude of health and beauty properties. To further enhance the appeal of these baths, they are often situated in areas of outstanding natural beauty.
Few things in life are more relaxing than soaking in a hot bath after a long day. The soul-healing effects get even better with falling snow and a beautiful mountain view.
Check out our recommendations below for the best hot springs to visit within 3 hours of Osaka and give your weary feet the rest they deserve!
Just 60 minutes bus ride away from Osaka is Arima Hot Springs, a famous hot spring town nestled at the foot of Mt. Rokko. This charming town is a local favorite amongst the residents of Osaka and Kobe for day trips and weekend getaways. With a history of over one thousand years, Arima Hot Springs is considered to be one of Japan’s “Three Ancient Springs”.
Notably, visitors can enjoy two types of hot spring waters around the town: Kinsen (Gold Water) and Ginsen (Silver Water). The gold spring waters get their golden-brown color from iron deposits. This water source is said to benefit muscle pain, backaches, improve circulation, and leave skin feeling soft and moisturized.
The silver water source, on the other hand, contains radium and carbonate and is a clear color. Some believe these deposits benefit the immune system and help with rheumatism and menopausal disorders.
MORE TO DO AROUND ARIMA HOT SPRINGS
Due to its compact size, visitors can explore the town entirely on foot. But that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in things to do and see! There are various hot springs throughout the town, beautiful temples and shrines, a number of locally owned restaurants. As well as a humble hot spring museum. Surprisingly though, a number of Japanese travel inns offer overnight guests something quite special. In an effort to conserve the ancient tradition of ozashiki (geisha gatherings), the town provides visitors with the unique opportunity to interact with geisha. Geisha are masters of the traditional arts, renowned for their beauty and grace. This is a must-have experience for first time travelers to Japan.
HOW TO GET THERE
Though there are a number of ways to get to Arima Hot Springs from Osaka including car, train and ropeway. The easiest way is to go directly by bus. Hankyu Bus and JR Bus operate a two highway buses per hour from Hankyu Umeda Station and JR Osaka Station. Bus tickets costs 1370 yen and can be booked online via Japan Bus Online.
*The Japan Rail Pass and other JR passes are not valid on these buses.
Nestled in the scenic valleys of Mt. Katsuragi lies Okumizuma Hot Springs, an ancient hot spring resort famed for its therapeutic effects. In fact, this hot spring is commonly referred to as “Kiseki no Yu”, the Water of Miracles. The spring gets its powers from its high concentration of sodium. Bathing in these miracle waters is said to be effective against muscle and joint pain, chronic digestive disorders, and chronic skin diseases.
Visitors can also experience the curative properties of Okumizuma Hot Springs while basking in the outstanding natural scenery of this resort. Each season brings a spectacular new scene to the outdoor baths, from the pale pink cherry blossoms in the springtime to the breathtaking palette of autumn colors in late September and November. Visiting a hot spring in the summer might not be high on many travelers' lists. However, at Okumizuma Hot Springs, overnight guests can enjoy a magical spectacle of fireflies during the summer evenings.
The hot spring resort also offers guests an exquisite traditional multi-course dinner made with a selection of the finest seasonal ingredients. This is also known as kaiseki ryouri and is the epitome of haute cuisine in Japan.
With its highly regarded miracle waters, beautiful cuisine and astounding natural surroundings, Okumizuma Hot Springs makes for the perfect break from the bustling city of Osaka.
HOW TO GET THERE
From Namba Station take the Nakai Line heading towards the airport and jump off at Kaizuka Station. Transfer to the Mizuma Tetsudo line towards Mizumakan-Non and get off at the last stop, Mizumakan-Non Station. From the station it’s a 10 minute taxi ride to Okumizuma Hot Springs.
Surrounded by the forests that mark the border of Wakayama Prefecture, lies the breathtaking Amami Hot Springs Nanten-en. Located in the more remote and rural parts of Osaka Prefecture, it can be hard to believe that you’re just 40 minutes away from the Blade Runner-esque streets of central Namba.
This hot spring is particularly special due to its architecture designed by Tatsuno Kingo. Tatsuno Kingo was a revolutionary architect from the Meiji era (1868-1912) and known for his work on the iconic Tokyo Station and Nara Hotel. In 2003, the main building of this exquisite hot spring officially became a Registered Tangible Cultural Property of Japan.
During its 100 years of history, Amami Hot Springs was often a stopover by monks on their pilgrimage to Mt. Koya. Exhausted from travel fatigue, these pilgrims would immerse themselves in the healing hot spring waters. The hot, soothing water refreshed both their body and mind. They soon came to call this place Gokuraku-buro, the Baths of Paradise.
The waters of this ‘bath of paradise’ comes from a natural radioactive spring which is believed to be effective for a number of ailments. Healing properties include relieving muscular pain, joint pain, chronic digestive pain and helping significantly lower high blood pressure.
Furthermore, Amami Hot Springs boasts an incredible hectare-sized garden. Travelers coming for a day-trip can enjoy the astounding lush and natural beauty of the Japanese gardens surrounding the hot spring resort.
If you’re after a history-rich hot spring and breathtaking Japanese gardens, then Amami Hot Springs Nanten-en makes for the perfect day-trip from Osaka.
HOW TO GET THERE
From Osaka Namba, take the express Nankai Koya Line bound for Hashimoto. Jump off at Amami Station. Amami Hot Springs Nanten-en is just a 1 minute walk from the station.
Tucked away in the foothills of the Hokusetsu region, is the hot spring hotel Fushio Kaku Hot Springs. Located just 30 minutes away from central Osaka, this hot spring facility is a popular getaway destination for those that seek a break from the city’s concrete jungle and neon lights.
Fushio Kaku Hot Spring boasts five open-air baths with magnificent natural views. In the springtime, visitors can enjoy the pale pink view of cherry blossoms. During the summer, lush greenery provides shade from the sun. In autumn, the vibrant red colors of maple leaves make the last pop of color before winter's gentle falling snow.
The mineral-rich waters of this hot spring facility attract guests with various ailments, including rheumatism, gout, muscle pain and high blood pressure.
Although Fushio Kaku Hot Springs is not a traditional Japanese inn, it does still offer its overnight guests beautiful Japanese-style rooms with tatami mats. Guests can have the option of booking a private open-air bath, making this for the perfect romantic destination for couples. To add to this, guests can also enjoy the outdoor swimming pool, karaoke, aromatherapy massages and hot rock bathing.
Well-located and tranquil, Fushio Kaku Hot Springs makes for a great day-trip or weekend break from the big city of Osaka.
HOW TO GET THERE:
From Hankyu Osaka-Umeda Station take the Hankyu Takarazuka Line to Ikeda Station. From the station you can take a free shuttle bus* straight to the hot spring facility or have a leisurely 25 minute stroll through the town.
*Note: The free shuttle bus requires a reservation.
Located on the western side of Lake Biwa, Japan’s largest freshwater lake, Ogoto Hot Springs is an incredible hot spring in Shiga Prefecture. Located a little over an hour away from Osaka, this history-rich onsen is a popular place to soak and relax by the residents of Kyoto and Shiga Prefecture.
Monk and Enryakuji Temple-founder, Saicho, established the Ogoto Hot Springs over 1,200 years ago. Currently, this hot spring is the largest hot spring facility throughout Shiga Prefecture.
On top of its incredible history, Ogoto boasts a reputation as a leader in beautifying hot springs. Locals and guests alike say that the natural spring waters give bathers a smooth, beautiful complexion. Unlike the other hot springs on this list, the spring waters at Ogoto Hot Springs vastly differ. At this hot spring, the natural spring water is highly alkaline with a pH level of 9.0. Due to this, it’s said to help relieve muscular pain, joint pain, paralysis, bruises, neuralgia, stiff shoulders, chronic gastritis, poor circulation, fatigue, and skin problems.
Even if you’re stopping for a day-trip you shouldn’t miss out on the mouthwatering dishes offered at Ogoto Hot Springs. Due to its close vicinity to Lake Biwa, you can savor in the exquisite local dishes made with natural ingredients harvested from the freshwater lake. As well as other Shiga Prefecture specialities.
OGOTO HOT SPRINGS: FOOD SPECIALTIES
The hot spring serves many traditional dishes of Shiga prefecture, like salt-grilled ayu and Biwa trout sashimi. These are often served with locally produced rice called Omi rice.
Travelers will have heard of Kobe beef, a tender and flavorful Wagyu beef that is well marbled with fat. In fact, throughout Japan there are three types of Wagyu beef and Omi beef is one of them. You can savor in the melt-in-your-mouth tender beef as a steak or in a shabu-shabu hot pot. In the winter, guests can dine on exquisite duck dishes, again served with Omi rice.
An ancient hot springs with curative natural waters, offering guests an incredible gastronomic experience and a breathtaking view of Lake Biwa, what more could you want from a day-trip from Osaka?
HOW TO GET THERE
From Osaka Station take the JR Kosei Line to Kyoto Station. Change trains lines and jump on the JR Kosei Line get off at Ogoto Onsen Station.
Travelers looking to take a relaxing and quiet break from their travels in Osaka, can savor and experience the full meditative properties of Japanese hot springs just a few hours away from the metropolis. Give your weary feet a rest and stop in at one of the beautiful Japanese hot springs dotted throughout the Kansai region!