The best hot spring in Japan? Nyuto Onsen, Akita

Tsuru-No-Yu Hot Spring (鶴の湯温泉) is the most famous hot spring in Nyuto Onsen, and one of the most iconic in the whole of Japan. It takes a few bus trips, or a hike to get here, but it’s totally worth the wait. Tsuru-No-Yu Hot Spring is filled with very silky, almost milk-like water that is said to heal all kinds of illnesses, aches and pains. If you have only been to city centre hot springs and feel you need to see a ‘real one’ out in the wild, Nyuto Onsen is for you.

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What was really rather surprising about Nyuto Onsen is that the main bath was mixed! I got in, not noticing there was a woman at the other end. After a few minutes, more came in! It certainly made me very nervous, but at least I can now say I have done a real countryside hot spring!  The mixed bath is just behind the bushes in the below pic.

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Just walking around Tsuru-No-Yu Hot Spring is a pleasurable experience. Most of the buildings have a thatched roof to protect and insulate from the heavy snow that comes in winter. Even though we went in late May, there was still some snow around.

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A nice addition to the area is a little stall near the shuttle bus stop. Here you can try all sorts of free samples of some traditional Japanese sweets, including some specialties from the area.

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There is also a small, but interesting shrine next to Tsuru-No-Yu Hot Spring, simply called Tsuru-No-Yu Shrine. It’s a short walk up a path to the shrine, set in a very peaceful forest.

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View our Nyuto Onsen budget travel guide for directions and more.

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