Bathing in traditional Japanese onsen hot springs is a must-do experience for visitors to Japan. This is especially true for those enjoying a ski vacation in Japan, when taking a dip after a long day on the slopes provides the ultimate relaxation experience to soothe sore muscles. There’s nothing quite like it and after experiencing it for yourself, you might reconsider your own definition of what exactly constitutes the perfect après-ski activity.
Japan’s mountainous landscape is dotted with active volcanoes, producing an abundance of underground geothermal activity. As a result, Japan is blessed with natural onsen hot springs that can be found in almost any location. Hakuba Valley, in particular, has a huge selection of onsens to enjoy. From hotel onsens to public onsens, there are so many choices. Here, we explore the top 5 onsens to try on your Hakuba Valley ski vacation.
A true classic and must-see Hakuba onsen, Happo Onsen is one of the most popular with tourists visiting Hakuba resort. This centrally located and conveniently located public onsen was completely renovated and rebuilt several years ago. It includes indoor and outdoor baths, as well as modern facilities. You will find Happo Onsen right in front of Happo Bus Terminal, overlooking the famous Happo One tracks.
Shobei-no-Yu at the Mominoki Hotel
The Mominoki Hotel is one of the most popular hotels in Hakuba and it’s no wonder, with its fantastic location next to the slopes of the Happo One ski resort and its complete in-house facilities. Non-hotel guests can pay to use the hotel’s impressive onsen facilities. The highlight is the beautiful outdoor rock pool, which offers the perfect place to swim and relax after a big day of powder skiing. The outer part of the onsen was expanded in 2015, so there is plenty of space to enjoy the unique high alkalinity natural hot spring waters. There is also an indoor bath and sauna to enjoy.
Tenjin-no-Yu at Hakuba Highland Hotel
On a blue bird day, Tenjin-no-yu is simply unbeatable. This beautiful onsen easily offers the best views of any onsen in the Hakuba Valley. With indoor and outdoor baths, as well as a sauna, a trip to this spectacular onsen is a must on your Hakuba Valley ski vacation. The views of the Japanese Alps mountain range are stunning and we could easily spend the whole afternoon there. Dreamer!
Mizubasho Onsen at Sierra Resort Hotel
This large onsen is one of our absolute favorites in Hakuba Valley. It’s a little more off the beaten path, located inside the luxurious Sierra Resort Hotel, nestled between the ski resorts of Iwatake and Tsguaike. The onsen is 100% pure, with no additional heating or other water sources, and offers a serene experience. Located inside traditional buildings dating back over 150 years, you can relax in the indoor and outdoor pools, while the snowflakes gently float around you. Happiness!
Another of Hakuba’s best public onsens and very popular with locals, Mimizuku is located between Hakuba Station and Happo Village, next to the Snow Peak Land Station building (which houses a restaurant, tourist information office, and Starbucks coffee). With indoor and outdoor baths, you can enjoy incredible unobstructed views of the Happo One ski resort and the Japanese Alps mountain range. Happo water is crystal clear, pure and silky smooth, providing the ultimate relaxation after skiing and snowboarding.
Among the many activities and experiences you can have in Hakuba, relaxing in an onsen hot spring is high on the list. This traditional Japanese ritual is an ubiquitous experience for visitors to Japan. It’s the ultimate in relaxation and rejuvenation, preparing your body and mind for the next big powder day! Trust me, your legs will thank you the next day.