Home to Mount Fuji and the Izu Peninsula, the prefecture of Shizuoka, which is just one hour from Tokyo by bullet train, offers a range of onsen and hot springs in which travellers can relax and revitalise in the traditional Japanese way. To help travellers find the perfect onsen break for them, here are some of the best areas in Shizuoka for a wellness escape in 2022 and beyond.
Coastal Kawazu Town
Travellers looking to pair onsen relaxation with waterfall landscapes, should add the coastal town of Kawazu to their travel itinerary. Located in the east coast of the Izu Peninsula and a popular destination year-round, Kawazu is renowned for its supply of revitalising hot spring water and a magnificent landscape of waterfalls and greenery. The town sees a surge of visitors from early-February to early-March for the early blossoming Kawazu Zakura cherry blossom – perfect for those looking to book an early 2023 escape. The stunning Nanadaru Waterfalls (which consist of 7 waterfalls) are a great option for active exploration with guided hiking tours available. Whilst it is possible to visit just for the day, the area boasts an array of splendid accommodation options including Amagiso Hotel, renowned for its outdoor bath which offers stunning views of Odaru (the largest of the Nanadaru Waterfalls) and Izu Imaihama Tokyu Hotel, which enjoys a beachfront location by the crystal clear Imaihama beach.
Often referred to as ‘Little Kyoto’ for its cobbled streets, centuries old ryokan, temples dating back centuries and even a bamboo forest, the small town of Shuzenji in Izu City is believed to have been discovered by the famous Buddhist monk Kobo Daishi who visited in the 9th century, created the hot springs and established hilltop Shuzenji Temple. For sightseeing and history, the Tokko-no-Yu spring is the most popular as it is where Kobo Daishi struck a rock with his Tokko (Buddhist ritual tool) to produce the onsen water that makes the area famous. Spring water in Shuzenji is mildly alkaline helping smooth and hydrate the skin. Great hot spring accommodation options include: Arai Ryokan, a Japanese traditional style inn established in 1872 and registered as a National Cultural Asset for its traditional architecture, art and history – as well as a favourite by celebrated Japanese artists and writers; and Yagyu no Sho, located in a tranquil bamboo forest. Popular activities include going for a walk on the picture-perfect bamboo forest and tasting locally grown wasabi ice-cream.
A renowned resort area for Tokyoites, the historic hot spring town of Atami is conveniently located 50 minutes by bullet train from Tokyo, making it the ideal place to unwind and relax for both day-trippers and those wanting a longer escape. Travellers are not short of options as the popular town boasts a plethora of hot spring options and bathing facilities combined with scenic views where lush cliffs and the shining ocean meet. For those looking to spend the night (or nights), the boutique FUFU Atami hotel is located in the mountains and boasts 32 rooms all with open-air baths serenaded with the sounds of murmuring streams and the melodic chirping of birds. Meanwhile, the onsen facilities at Hotel Micuras offer uninterrupted views of the Pacific Ocean. Activities not-to-be-missed while visiting the locality include sampling some of the finest and freshest local seafood, and for those wanting to add culture to their relaxing break, visiting the MOA Museum of Art.
Relaxation and action in Kanzanji
On the eastern shore of Lake Hamana, visitors will find Kanzanji, a relatively new hot spring originating from the 1950s. The town of Kanzanji is the ideal choice for travellers wanting to combine active exploration with evenings of relaxation in a soothing bath after an action-packed day. Popular activities around Lake Hamana include marine sports, fishing, cycling (there is a 67-kilometre cycle path along the lake) and for an adrenaline boost wakeboarding, parasailing and windsurfing. For accommodation, Tokiwasure Kaikatei is an onsen Ryokan overlooking the lake with an ethos of “Tokiwasure” – meaning “forget the time” – whilst Hotel Wellseason ￼Hamanako￼ is one of the biggest onsen facilities in the prefecture. As for cuisine, a must-try local delicacy is the local Lake Hamana eel, traditionally served grilled.
Gotemba for Mount Fuji views
At the foot of Mount Fuji, visitors will find the city of Gotemba with its very own hot spring theme park. The Gotemba Kogen Resort Toki no Sumika leisure facility features several kinds of hot springs to suit different needs, as well as different lodging available for those wanting to stay overnight including hotels, cabins and glamping and restaurants. For those wanting to combine retail therapy with soaking sessions, the Gotemba Premium Outlets® is not only one of the largest shopping centres in Japan, but also boasts the Konohana no Yu hot spring facilities and Hotel Clad adjacent – both overlooking Mount Fuji. And for those wanting a health boost from the inside too, tea picking experiences are popular in this area and a great way to learn more about the healing benefits of the popular herbal beverage.