hot springs

Hello Kitty hot spring lets you fill two spots at once on your Japan bingo card

For most travelers in Japan, the highlight of a trip to the hot springs is the rotenburo, or open-air bath. The idea of an alfresco dip is so appealing that drawing visitors to your hot spring inn or hotel becomes several degrees harder if you don’t have outdoor tubs.

But you shouldn’t write off indoor hot springs entirely, as they boast a couple of advantages. Having a roof over your head makes them a good choice for a rainy day, and being climate controlled means less shivering once you step out of the water. Plus, if you’re heading to Gunma Prefecture, soon one indoor hot spring will give you the chance to soak in the company of Hello Kitty.

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Capybara hot springs are back: Rodent-friendly onsen now available all over Japan

Sure, monkeys bathing in natural hot springs are cute and famous and all, but they’re just monkeys, not giant rodents! Who doesn’t want to watch the world’s biggest rodents bathe in hot water? No one, that’s who. Thankfully, the annual capybara hot spring (onsen) event at Izu Shaboten Park will reopen on December 20!

But wait! After 32 years, the capybara at Izu Shaboten Park in Shizuoka finally got word out to their rodent relatives at the other zoos and now animal parks all over Japan have hot water baths for their capybara.

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Japan’s 10 best ryokan inns and top 10 hotels, as chosen by foreign visitors

Ask any member of the RocketNews24 team, and we’ll tell you: Japan is awesome. A lot of people seem to agree, too, seeing as how Japan gets more and more visitors from abroad every year.

But as much as we love all of our readers, and hope you all get a chance to come visit, our staff doesn’t quite have the collective living room floor space for you to crash at our apartments. Thankfully, the country has plenty of amazing accommodation, as shown by this list of the top 10 inns and hotels in Japan, as picked by foreign travelers.

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Check out these cool ways to enjoy hot springs in Oita, including eating and breathing them

Oita, on the eastern coast of Japan’s southern island of Kyushu, has taken to billing itself as Onsen-ken. And while that title loses a bit of its rhyming appeal once it’s translated into English, it’s hard to deny that it really is the Hot Spring Prefecture, as Oita boasts more hot springs than anywhere else in Japan.

As a matter of fact, Oita has so much geothermal water that it can get creative with its most attractive and relaxing natural resource, as shown by these unique ways locals and tourists can enjoy the prefecture’s hot springs.

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How long does Kagoshima need to convince us to visit? With this video, just two minutes

A little over a year ago, one of my good friends in Tokyo got a job teaching philosophy at a university in Kagoshima, the prefecture at the southernmost tip of the island of Kyushu. Being that he’s now a seven-hour series of train rides, or a two-and-a-half-hour flight, away, we don’t get together so often anymore, but on the plus side, now I have a reason to take a trip to Kagoshima.

Well, actually, I’ve got about a dozen reasons to take a trip there, if you add in all of the nature trails, hot springs, scenic coastline, and more shown in this video of some of Kagoshima’s most achingly beautiful travel destinations.

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Beautiful, 100-year-old Japanese guest house is so cheap, for some guests it’s free

For a lot of travelers, staying in a Japanese-style inn is high on their list of things they want to do in the country, and with good reason. The austere elegance of traditional accommodations provides a uniquely soothing atmosphere, giving you a connection to a culture thousands of years old even as it provides the opportunity for a quiet moment of self-reflection.

What’s not nearly so relaxing, though, are the rates many inns charge, which can run to hundreds of dollars per person in mandatory packages that include overly extravagant meals. But if you’re looking for a place to stay that doesn’t go overboard on either the amenities or prices, the hostel K’s House will provide you a 100-year-old roof over your head, friendly service, and even a natural onsen hot spring bath, all for as little as 2,950 yen (US$27) a night, or, if you don’t mind a few hours’ work, nothing at all.

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Hyotan Onsen – Japan’s only hot spring with three Michelin stars

Even though the prefecture is home to barely a million residents, Oita has not one, but two famous hot spring resorts. Yufuin is generally held to be the more refined and tastefully restrained of the pair, while Beppu, despite having some of the most popular hot springs in Japan, gets saddled with the reputation as the more touristy town.

While there may be some truth to the labels, there’s one thing Beppu has that you won’t find in Yufuin, or anywhere else in the country for that matter: Japan’s only hot spring with three Michelin stars.

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Gunma Prefecture’s adorable mascot dances into our hearts and travel plans 【Video】

At first glance, Gunma may not seem to have a whole lot going for it. It’s one of Japan’s few landlocked prefectures, which means less access to Japan’s legendarily fresh seafood. The lack of a coastline also means Gunma doesn’t have a vibrant urban heart like Japan’s largest cities which grew out of its busiest ports, so economic and modern entertainment opportunities are limited compared to Tokyo, Osaka, or Fukuoka.

What Gunma does have is mountains, hot springs, and shrines, though. It’s also got Gunma-chan, its lovable horse mascot who shows off the prefecture’s attractions and some adorable dance moves in this new video.

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The best of Japan’s “top 3” tourist hotspots【poll】

Japan really loves to put its tourist spots into a top three list, such as the top three gardens or the top three hot springs. And a lot of tourists like to visit all three of the places to be able to say they’ve completed the set. But which of these famous trios do Japanese tourists want to visit the most? The website Web R25 recently surveyed 664 of their readers to ask them which of the top three lists they most want to visit. Click below to find out which trio of tourist hotspots topped the list and be sure to let us know which one you prefer in our RocketNews24 poll at the bottom!

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Traditional hot spring dance reminds us of locker room fights, 3rd degree burns

Kusatsu Onsen is a hot spring resort town in the mountains of Gunma Prefecture. Its spring is famous for both its prodigious daily output and its high sulfur content, which makes the entire town smell of rotten eggs but is said to cure a host of bodily ills. In fact, the locals say the hot springs in Kusatsu cure any sickness but love sickness.

Whatever its healing properties, you wouldn’t want to jump into the spring at the source, as it comes bubbling out of the ground at up to a scalding 95°C (203°F). You could add cold water, but that would dilute the beneficial mineral content, so the locals use a traditional method called yumomi, which involves splashing the water around with big tongue depressors while singing and dancing.

I love Japan.

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Five awesome hot springs in Taiwan (one of them has been on fire for 300 years!)

Japan is famous for being an onsen (hot spring) nation, so much so that a friend of mine preaches that “if you’ve never been to an onsen, then you’ve never been to Japan”. Quite the extremist, but you get the idea. Japanese hot springs come pretty close to “heaven on earth”.

But Japan’s neighboring country, Taiwan, also has some fabulous hot springs to boot! The fact that there are onsen-loving Japanese people who travel to Taiwan for a soak is sufficient to vouch for the quality of these bubbling hot baths. Here’s a list of five onsen hot spots you wouldn’t want to miss on your trip to Taiwan!

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Onsen trivia! Finding the hottest, highest, and healthiest hot springs in Japan

Japan is practically overflowing with hot, bubbling water it seems and nearly every city and town has a local spring or public bath for people to get a nice soak. Called “onsen” in Japanese, hot spring spas or baths are one of the most enduring symbols of Japanese culture.

Today, we bring you a fact-filled list of Japanese onsen trivia! Impress your friends with your knowledge and find somewhere to go soothe your aching heart when they get mad at you for being so smart.

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See the new capybara babies at Izu Shaboten Park — and maybe even name one of them!

The capybaras at the Izu Shaboten Park in Shizuoka Prefecture are somewhat of a celebrity here in Japan, and you may recall this isn’t the first time we’ve brought you a story about them. Now, we’re pleased to report that the lovable rodents have recently welcomed some adorable new additions to their family. So, here’s your chance to meet the new babies of the family, and what’s more, you may even be able to give them a name!

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Top tub tips and tattoo taboos at Japanese baths

There is nothing quite as relaxing as slipping into the warm water at a Japanese hot spring. But as you get ready for tub time, you should be aware of the finer points of public bathing in Japan. Besides leaving your rubber ducky at home, we have compiled a list of key bath tips to ensure the best soak of your life without having to hear someone nag about the “lack of proper bathing manners these days.”

And since one of the more frustrating points of the Japanese bathing experience is a blanket ban on tattoos, we will also provide some context on why exactly your tribal sign tramp stamp is so unwelcome.

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Onsen Ramen – Why go to the hot spring when the hot spring can come to you?

If there’s one thing Japan loves, it’s ramen, and if there’s a second thing, it’s hot springs (or onsen in Japanese).

We recently found a place in Tokyo’s Suginami Ward that combines both.

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Soak in A Nice Hot Spring Bath With Ted the Dirty Little Old Teddy Bear!

So, have you seen the movie Ted yet? If you have, I’m sure many of you will agree that it’s an absolutely hilarious movie (probably not profound or enlightening in any way, and you may even lose a couple of brain cells watching it, but yes, definitely hilarious)! Well, it appears the antics of the cute teddy bear with a bad mouth and a dirty mind has captured the hearts of movie goers in Japan, because as of last weekend, the movie is the top box office hit in Japan. But what does a middle-aged borderline delinquent teddy bear have to do with a hot spring bath? Read More

The Top 9 Things That Surprise Foreigners the Most About Japan

If you have ever been outside your own country, you most likely have experienced some form of culture shock.  In fact just visiting another city or town can make you aware of how things are done differently all over.  In Japan, some things are so surprisingly different for foreigners that there is some uniformity in the shock value.  Any Japanese with their eyes and ears open can be aware of what is most shocking to many foreigners.  It is makes for fascinating conversation, “What is most surprising about Japan to foreigners?  I heard…”  This riveting subject matter prompts reflection, a moment of feeling good about one’s culture, sprinkled with the ability to and laugh at oneself.

Here is a list of 9 things foreigners experience when first visiting Japan (according to Japanese columnist Ryoko Kozakai over at Excite, at least):
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