Guide and information of Japan travel, with Onsen, Hot Spring near Hakone, Kusatsu, Nikko and Tokyo.
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ONSEN HOT SPRING
With tattoo? No problem with tattoo-friendly.jp . Also this page to introduce easy but real onsen experience from downtown Tokyo (as one-day-short-trip). If you had JR Pass (even without), if you had one day extra in Tokyo, it is truly worth travelling one or two even three of below. Please make maximum use of your pass with authentic Japanese style of holiday. No have JR Pass? No problem because you are able to purchase JR TOKYO Wide Pass here in Tokyo. The last on this list is of course Asakusa Onsen (town onsen with local people). For those who would be bit shy and who would like to jump and soak with swimming suit (swimming pants), not very traditional style but please find Hakone Kowakien Yunessun (mixed bath) .
Yakushi Onsen Hatago
Time slip travel is within few hours rides from downtown Tokyo. Day trip is possible but better to feel their unique time and space up in the mountain with at least a night or a few, how about join onsen journey with Shima Onsen and Kusatsu Onsen. Actually Yakushi Onsen Hatago is located just in between the two, which are all located in Gunma-ken, the onsen prefecture of Kanto region.
Official Map (Google Map)
Nikko Onsen Hoshinoyado
Very popular and very local atmosphere. Nice walking distance from Tobu-Nikko station, not far from Toshogu temple and shrine area. Lunch is special with local ingredients. Japanese garden is tranquil as well. Other than this hot spring ryokan, there are three more hot springs run by the city. Katakuri is the most local-touch, hardly-ever-seen non-Japanese place, which is reasoned by its location. Most of visitors are easily over 65 years old, where is the place that you may feel like being retired in Inaka of Japan. There is also Karaoke (JPY100 per song) that you can sing in front of dozens of "young" elder people in the huge 60-tatami-mat room! You may take free-shuttle-bus somehow. Please be aware of the fact that the bus stop is not right at the railway station but not cleary located middle of the town either. One good stop to be picked-up is in front of Kokando Yakkyoku on route 121 between Tobu railway and Daiya-gawa river which is about 10 minutes walk from Shimo-Imaichi station, only available on Tuesday though! All you need to do is take Tobu Line from Asakusa to Shimo-Imaichi. Nikko One Day Tour Page has some detail.
Map (each location has Google Map) There is each clip on each location. Tobu Line (not JR but private railway) has frequent trains from Asakusa direct. For JR Pass Holders, please take Shinkansen to Utsunomiya, then local train to Nikko.
Fuji-Hakkei Onsen
One of the best spectacular view onsen in Japan, why? it is because you can see the perfect cone shape of Mt.Fuji while you do feeling-good in natural hot spring. Even their shower use the mineral water. So ladies, please make your skin young without using Shiseido, now you know why Japanese ladies look younger than their real age. Well, gentlemen, please be careful! One day trip from downtown Tokyo shall do, but it is also worth experiencing this natural spa along with Hakone and Kawaguchiko, please refer to this page. To make your one day content while you had a week or even 10 days in downtwon Tokyo, here's some routes to get there.
Map There are several direct trains from Shinjuku to Gotemba station on Odakyu Line (not JR but private railway). With JR Pass, Tokyo => Kouzu (Kozu) => Gotemba, Tokyo => Numazu => Gotemba shall do with local trains. With Shinkansen, you may reach to Mishima first, then take local bus (not JR) to Gotemba, JPY940, abt.50min. Time table can be obtained by seaching at HyperDia, please.

And this is the most important part, there is only 1 (one) free shuttle bus up to Fuji-Hakkei from JR Gotemba station, and there is only 1 (one) free shuttle bus down to JR Gotemba station from the onsen house.

Gotemba 09:50 departure
Fuji-Hakkei 13:30 departure

3 hours would usually melt your body like baby. Not enought? You can melt your wallet and credit card spending at Premium Outlet with frequent free shuttle bus from/to JR Gotemba station, and even direct from/to JR Tokyo station, Shinjuku station and Yokohama station.
Shimobe Onsen (with excellent view of Mt.Fuji on your way)
This is never-listed-any-guide-book hot spring (at least in English written guide book). Not major does not mean bad onsen at all. It is just middle of nowhere in mountains. Although, access is quite straight forward with only one transfer from downtown Tokyo. Advantage is that you may capture whole Mt.Fuji view from train window, JR Minobu Line is the closest line of JR to the mountain. Please also refer to DAY-14 for related trip. Shimobe Hotel has day-visitor-onsen at JPY1,050 including rest area, but several alternative facilities are also listed at this page , and you may find much cheaper which means less luxury.
Map There are Hikari Express (Shinkansen, the bullet train) running every 30 minutes, and there are Wide-View-Fujikawa (Limited Express) running almost every 2 hours. You may search updated train schedule at HyperDia but the followings shows one good example/connection. JPY6,120 - JPY8,900 one way per adult depending on which route you'd take (fare for WITHOUT JR PASS). First option is to go and come back in same route (2 chances to see Mt.Fuji, morning face and afternoon face is 2 different beauties). Second option is to go northern side of Mt.Fuji which you may see only the top (8th station to the summit) beyond another mountain range. Kofu to Otsuki has grape field, Otsuki to Takao goes along valley, Takao to Shinjuku through west residential Tokyo downtown including Mitaka, Kichijoji and Nakano.
Tokyo  10:03 => 11:05 Shizuoka 11:40 => 13:20 Shimobe-Onsen (JPY8,370 without JR Pass)
Shimobe-Onsen 15:19 => 16:56 Shizuoka 17:37 => 18:40 Tokyo
Shimobe-Onsen 15:19 => 16:02 Kofu 16:10 => 17:51 Shinjuku
Takaragawa Onsen
Watch out for the black bears in cages. If you stayed overnight, you might be ending up eating one piece of their body (bear meat at dinner table!), but if you would like to experience day time spa, this is one of the best NATURE in deep mountain. Discount ticket is available at this page (shop in front of JR Minakami station) or in Ginza branch (one of Gunma campaign shop). This is also one of the rare mixed-bath (no swimming suit!).
Map There is no longer direct train to Minakami (except high season), but Shinkansen, the bullet train, has the alternative way to reach into the nature world. Bus is not JR, therefore JPY2,300 round trip (for the bus journeys) has to be paid at bus driver when you get off. JPY2,780 special discount ticket is including the bus (JPY2,300 round trip) as well as admission fee (JPY1,500), which means JPY1,020 discount from JPY3,800. See above page for the discount ticket, please. You may search updated train schedule at HyperDia but the followings shows one good example/connection.
Ueno  06:26 => 08:16 Takasaki 08:24 => 09:31 Minakami 09:40 => 10:20 Takaragawa Onsen 15:30 => 16:08 Minakami 16:45 => 17:48 Takasaki 17:52 => 19:41 Ueno (JPY2,300 required for round trip bus journeys)
Akazawa Onsen
This is listed on top of Best-Impressed-View-Onsen in Japan, and this page could explain without words. When ladies on 3rd floor, gentlemen on 4th floor. Or, when ladys on 4th floor, gentlemen on 3rd floor. Sky view is naturally on the 4th floor. Mixed bathing is available with surcharge (upon availabilities, no reservation possible). Nearby location has Hanafubuki Ryokan as well highly recommended. Stay and feel more relax? K's House ITO is the one!
Map There are direct limited express from Tokyo, but please note that it is not JR between ito and izu-kogen, therefore, additional surcharge of JPY1,170 for izukyu limited express (or JPY660 for izukyu local train) one way per adult is must. You may search updated train schedule at HyperDia but the followings shows one good example/connection. JPY11,000 one way per adult WITHOUT JR PASS. There is a free frequent shuttle bus from izu-kogen station to the onsen site (return as well).
Tokyo 09:00 => 11:03 izu-kogen 15:41 => 17:46 Tokyo
Tokyo 07:26 => 08:12 Atami 08:24 => 09:12 izu-kogen 18:00 => 18:44 Atami 19:02 => 19:40 Tokyo
Omoigawa Onsen
It is one of the easiest and closest from downtown Tokyo, say, maybe good for onsen beginner. From the Shinkansen (bullet train) station called Oyama, there is a frequent free shuttle bus service to/from the onsen place. Only in Japanese, but this page has the time table, basically every 15 minutes.
Map There are many frequent Shinkansen (bullet train) from downtown Tokyo to Oyama station. Please be aware that only Nasumo (slowest Shinkansen) and some Yamabiko (rapid Shinkansen) stops. You may search updated train schedule at HyperDia but the followings shows one good example/connection.
Tokyo 10:12 => 10:54 Oyama (every 15 minutes, shuttle bus) Oyama 18:32 => 19:10 Ueno
Akiyama Onsen
Not many people know, therefore very local-touch. Also easy to access from downtown Tokyo. Maybe good for onsen beginner as well. From the nearby JR station called Uenohara, there is only 09:50, 12:15 and 15:00 buses departing from their self-made-bus-stop (not one of the public bus stops), some 150 meter east from the JR ticket office. Only in Japanese, but this page has the time table. Oh, very important! there is no shuttle bus service on Sundays!
Map There are many JR local trains reaching to Uenohara station from either Takao (west of downtown Tokyo) or Shinjuku (west edge of the JR Yamanote Loop Line). There is no Limited Express stopping this tiny station. You may search updated train schedule at HyperDia but the followings shows one good example/connection.
Tokyo 07:50 => 08:59 Takao 09:01 => 09:19 Uenohara 09:45 (this bus will take you to the hot spring)
For your coming back, please do not miss either 14:10, 16:30, 18:00 or 20:50 (the last bus) to get back to Uenohara station, from where there are frequent JR local train services back to Takao, Shinjuku and Tokyo.
Asakusa Onsen
It is the real onsen using hot-spring, mineral water, from 1,000 meter underneath of Tokyo city. Pictures and details in Japanese is available at Jakotsuyu, please. It is only 460yen per one adult (sauna costs extra 200yen) from 13:00 - 23:40, except Tuesdays. And the best thing is that it is located in downtown Tokyo, right in the middle of ASAKUSA. Tokyo Ryokan is in short walk distance. It is Japanese culture to crash down after long-hour-onsen.
Map Yes, it is in Tokyo downtown. Nearest metro station is Tawaramachi (G18), nearest JR station is Ueno. This map also explains detail.
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