Ultimate peace of mind plus mixed-gender bathing in this respite of seclusion.
Tucked away deep in the mountains of northern Japan is Kuroyu Onsen, a secluded hot spring area that’s surrounded by unwavering stillness.
Its location in Towada Hachimantai National Park makes it perfect for adventurers. While Kuroyu is in Akita Prefecture, the park itself rests on an expansive area of forests, mountains and hot springs that encompasses parts of Aomori, Akita, and Iwate prefectures.
Kuroyu Onsen is actually one of seven hot springs of Nyuto Onsen, a remote location which rests above Lake Tazawa, the deepest in Japan and a major attraction in this area of Akita.
These hot springs have been in operation since the Edo Period, and even today visitors come from all over Japan to relax in natural waters.
Hot springs in Japan are usually separated by gender, but what makes Kuroyu stand out from other onsen (hot spring) is that it has a mixed-gender open-air bath (kon yoku rotenburo).
In Japan, these types of onsen baths have an image of being frequented by rural grandmas and grandpas, but they remain an attractive choice for families and couples. This is a Japanese tradition that is fast dying out, so visitors should take the opportunity to experience it while they can.
The hot spring water of Kuroyu has a cloudy-blue appearance because it’s rich in minerals and is said to have healing effects for the body. Visitors will find serenity in the surroundings: the rustling of leaves, chirping of birds and the burbling of the nearby boiling source of the hot spring.
Know before you go
For accommodation, traditional inns dot the picturesque valley, but you can certainly visit this or other hot springs in the area, as several of them are open to guests even if you’re not staying overnight.
If you’re looking to enjoy fall foliage, you have until November to make a trip to this scenic spot as some locations close in winter and re-open in April of the following year. (Other onsen in the area are open in winter, though.)
Nearby natural attractions in spring and summer include hiking to the summits of Mount Nyuto and Mount Komagatake where a variety of flowers bloom from June to September. There’s also a trek through a tunnel-like birch tree forest and a leisurely walk through Karafuki Wetlands, located about 20 minutes away from Nyuto Onsen on foot.
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