Region
Tohoku
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Fukushima
Population
2,126,998

Higashiyama Onsen 

Ancient hot springs and geisha entertainment

Higashiyama Onsen is a historical onsen (hot spring) town located on the eastern outskirts of Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima Prefecture. More than 1,300 years old, the town’s healing waters have been a respite for Buddhist priests, noble samurai, and weary travelers alike.

Today, Higashiyama Onsen is known as one of Tohoku’s top three onsen resorts. About 15 different hot spring hotels and ryokan (traditional inn) and hotels sit along the tranquil Yu River, nestled in a scenic valley. The old-style wooden ryokan are the best option, as they give you the impression of stepping back in time and make you feel like an honored guest in real traditional Japan.

Mukaitaki Ryokan

Higashiyama Onsen Fukushima

Photo by: M Murakami Onsen for nobles and pilgrims alike.

Mukaitaki Ryokan is undoubtedly the most famous among Higashiyama Onsen’s ryokan. It’s well known as the valley’s most prominent landmark. It also offers its guests one of the most authentic onsen experiences you can have.

Discover Aizuwakamtsu

Aizuwakamatsu Fukushima
The guest rooms are designed like those which nobles stayed in when traveling during Edo Times. They all offer magnificent views towards the large traditional Japanese garden of the ryokan or the Yu River. The views change with the seasons, and the rooms also give great views of cherry blossoms in spring, summer greens, colorful autumn leaves, and pristine blankets of snow in winter.

The Mukaitaki offers several onsen baths, one of them being kazoku style, where you can enjoy the hot spring in private with your family.

The food on offer is decidedly Japanese and features local ingredients. The Aizu region is famous for sweet-water fish, beef, and delicious vegetables. The sake made from local rice is divine. Depending on the season, you will get served the best in a multitude of dishes.

Enjoy a geisha performance

Higashiyama Onsen Fukushima

Photo by: Sayaca Autumn in Higashiyama Onsen.

Higashiyama Onsen is a certified geisha district. Thus, you can experience what it’s like to be entertained by a real, traditionally trained geisha.

The geisha of Higashiyama Onsen, locally known as geigi or kanariko, are refined stage performers, masters at playing the shamisen, and singing ancient songs about love and life. Seeing them dance and perform in their elegant kimono is utterly unforgettable.

Booking a geisha for a performance at your dinner table is also possible. While on the pricey side, sharing the bill with a group of friends would make it still quite affordable.

Trivia

Aizuwakamatsu Fukushima

Discover Aizuwakamtsu

Samurai history in beautiful surroundings. Don't forget to indulge in some sake on the way.

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Things To Know

General info

The English-language website for the Higashiyama Onsen Tourist Association provides plenty of information, introduces all hotels and ryokan in the area, and provides links to each of them

Official Website: http://www.aizu-higashiyama.com/english/index.html

Mukaitaki Ryokan

Prices start at about ¥40,000 for two adults per night.

Address: Kawamukai-200 Higashiyamamachi Oaza Yumoto, Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima 965-0814

Official website: https://www.mukaitaki.jp/

  Booking a geisha

Any hotel or ryokan in Higashiyama Onsen can book a geisha performance at their premises. Prices start at ¥15,000 for 90 minutes with one performer singing and playing the shamisen or a similar traditional instrument.

To actually book a geisha, you have to talk to your hotel or ryokan. They will do the booking for you.

The Higashiyama Onsen English-language website provides more background information.

Exploring outside of Higashiyama Onsen

Higashiyama Onsen is only about three kilometers away from central Aizuwakamatsu. Thus, a visit to the historical sites of the city as well as to the surrounding scenic landscape including Mount Bandai and Lake Inawashiro can easily be combined.

How To Get There

Address

Kawamukai-200 Higashiyamamachi Ōaza Yumoto, Aizuwakamatsu-shi, Fukushima 965-0814, Japan

By train

From Tokyo: 

Take the Tohoku Shinkansen from Tokyo or Ueno Station to Koriyama and transfer to the JR Ban-Etsu West line bound for Aizuwakamatsu. The trip takes a bit more than two hours.

From Sendai: 

Take the Tohoku Shinkansen towards Tokyo, transfer at Koriyama to the JR Ban-Etsu West line bound for Aizuwakamatsu. The trip takes a bit more than two hours.

By bus

From JR Aizuwakamatsu Station, take the city loop bus to Higashiyama Onsen. The bus ride takes about 35 minutes.


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