Exploring Kawayu Onsen – Hokkaido’s best hot spring town?

As part of my research for my new Hokkaido travel book, Super Cheap Hokkaido, I went to a hot spring town that I had been hoping to visit for a long time, Kawayu Onsen. On the eastern side of Hokkaido, it’s pretty much away from where most tourists will go, but could still be considered a tourist town.

You start off with a walk through the forest, or a short bus ride from the Kawayu Onsen station. It’s an easy walk on flat land, taking you via some amazing scenery.

Never walked on moss covered paths through a forest!

You’ll eventually arrive at Mount Io. Just like in Hakone, steam and hot water is gushing out of this volcano, and visitors can go to the local tourist hut to buy black ‘onsen eggs’.

Once you arrive in Kawayu Onsen, you’ll be greeted by the sight of steams of hot spring water throughout the town, as well as a free foot bath to soothe your feet after all that exercise!

Hot spring water flowing through the town
Chilling out in the free foot bath

While the town won’t blow you away like some in Hokkaido, Kawayu Onsen is a quiet, authentic and very peaceful spot to spend the day in. It’s a must visit if you head to the east of Hokkaido, and is reachable with a rail pass. Plus, there is even a free foot bath at the station!

The super hot foot bath at Kawayu Onsen station

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Published by Matthew Baxter

Matthew Baxter is a British travel author who lived in New Zealand and Japan for many years. Having traveled across these countries, without much money, he has built up an extensive knowledge of budget travel, and also worked at many leading tourism companies in both countries. He also writes professionally for several websites and publications, such as the GaijinPot, All About and the Japan National Tourist Association. Those heading to Taiwan should check out his new site, Taiwanna Travel.