The most common way to visit onsen in Japan is to stay overnight in facilities where hot spring entry is included in the room rate. Here we look at the question, How much does it cost for the day tripper to visit? Below are listed some of the best/most famous onsen in Japan, and the costs/fees for admission.
One of the oldest
Dogo Onsen dates back over 1,000 years. Located in the city of Matsuyama (Ehime Prefecture, Shikoku), this onsen has been mentioned in texts as far back as 759.
There are two baths;
Kami no Yu (1F&2F)
Admission: 1F - 410 yen (adult) / 160 yen (child), 2F - 840 yen (adult) / 420 yen (child) + tea
Tama no Yu (public/private)
Admission: Public - 1,250 yen (adult) / 620 yen (child) + tea and sweets
Private - 1,580 yen (adult) / 720 yen (child) + tea and sweets
Hours: 6:00 - 23:00
One of the largest
Ooedo-Onsen Monogatari in Tokyo's Odaiba district, describes itself as an 'onsen theme park'. Yes, there are baths, but there's a whole lot more to boot, including restaurants, spa treatments, games, and a room full of reclining chairs where you can just, well, relax, I guess.
Admission: Over 12s - 2,480 yen ( Sat. Sun. 2,680 yen, Special Day 2,880 yen) / Kids 4-12 - 1,000 yen / Under 4 - free
Evening Discount Admission (after 18:00): Over 12s - 1,980 yen ( Sat. Sun. 2,180 yen, Special Day 2,380 yen) / No child discount available
Late Night Premium (after 2:00): 2,000 yen
All fees inc. bath/yukata robe/towel/use of facilities
Hours: 11:00 - 9:00 (the next day)
The one with the monkeys
Jigokudani Yaen Koen a.k.a Jigokudani Monkey Park is located in northern Nagano Prefecture. Watch your preconceptions here, any images you might have had of getting your back scrubbed by a cute monkey are way off the mark. This onsen is primates only. The forested park is marked by a series of trails which lead to the hot spring where the monkeys bath.
Admission: 500 yen (adult) / 250 yen (child)
Summer (April - Oct.): 8:30 - 17:00
Winter (Nov. - March): 9:00 - 16:00
The nearby resort of Shibu Onsen has nine public bathhouses that day trippers can enjoy.
The one(s) with a view to Mt. Fuji
Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of onsen operations making the best of their Mt. Fuji-view status. Many of them are private to overnight guests. The Japan National Tourist Organization has compiled a list of those which are open to the general public. See the link here.
Admission: 700 - 1,500 yen
The big three
The Japanese love things in threes; three best views, three best gardens ... three best onsen! Kusatsu, Gero, and Arima make this prestigious list. So, how much does it cost to bath in their waters?
Kusatsu Onsen (Gunma Prefecture)
The homepage for this onsen proudly boasts of, '... the largest flowing water volume of all hot springs in Japan.'. There are a number of 'onsen' options for the day tripper in Kusatsu.
Otaki no Yu Bathhouse
Admission: Adult - 800 yen / Child - 400 yen (not inc. bath towel)
Hours: 9:00 - 21:00
Kusatsu Onsen Center
Admission: Adult - 800 yen / Child - 400 yen
Hours: 10:30 - 19:00
Yu-kenuri Tei (Hot Spring Steam Footpath)
Gero Onsen (Gifu Prefecture)
Around since the 10th Century, Gero Onsen can be found in mountainous Gifu Prefecture. It has the nickname of ‘Bijin No Yu’, or ‘Hot Springs of the Beautiful’; the waters here are said to be particularly good for the skin.
Three baths are open to the general public.
Cure Garden Rotenburo
Admission: Adult - 600 yen / Elementary school student - 400 yen / Infant - 200 yen
Hours: 8:00 - 21:00 (Closed Thursdays)
Shirasagi no Yu
Admission: Adult - 350 yen / Elementary school student - 140 yen / Infant - 70 yen
Hours: 10:00 - 22:00 (Closed Wednesdays)
Sachi no Yu
Admission: As above
Hours: 10:00 - 23:00 (Closed Tuesdays)
There are a bunch of foot baths throughout Gero town, which can be used free of charge.
Arima Onsen (Kobe City)
Only 40 mins by train from the city of Kobe (technically still part of the city but on the other side of a mountain), Arima Onsen is a popular day/weekend option for residents of urban Kansai. There are a handful of public baths for day trippers ...
Admission: 1,500 yen (inc. face towel / large towel rental - 315 yen)
Hours: 11:00 - 14:00
Kin no Yu
Admission: Adult (Jr. High and above) - 650 yen / Elementary school student - 340 yen / Infant - free
Hours: 8:00 - 22:00 (Closed, 2nd & 4th Tues. of the month (Weds if Tues. is a holiday), Jan 1)
Gin no Yu
Admission: Adult (Jr. High and above) - 550 yen / Elementary school student - 290 yen / Infant - free
Hours: 9:00 - 21:00 (Closed, 1st & 3rd Tues. of the month (Weds if Tues. is a holiday), Jan 1)
If you have your own answers to the question, How much does it cost to visit an onsen in Japan?, or you have your own best onsen in Japan to recommend, please join the conversation below.