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.

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.