Four types of establishments to find hot springs in Japan
Different ways to enjoy the onsen!
When we think of onsen, we immediately think of ryokan, these traditional inns that offer the possibility of experiencing the pleasures of Japanese bathing by spending a night in a tatami room. However, these luxury accommodations are not the only places with hot springs and there are other types of establishments to enjoy hot springs. Here are the choices!
Ryokan, the ultimate in traditional accommodation
Very popular with foreign and Japanese travelers, the ryokan offers an exotic experience to all those who come to rest there.
Tatami floors, rice paper doors, and futon beds, these Japanese inns offer the finest in traditional accommodation. A refinement that could not be complete without the onsen, since the ritual of bathing has been part of good morals since the 7th century.
- See also: Ryokan
This is why most ryokans today have their hot springs, large baths that are generally single-sex, which can be accessed free of charge until midnight.
In renowned establishments, some rooms also have private baths.
Average cost per person: between 12,000 and 30,000 yen per night (from $100-250/95-225€ ), dinner and breakfast included.
The minshuku, guest rooms at a lower cost
Minshuku is a traditional guesthouse. We are received there by the owner who provides us with food and lodging, and the rooms generally have a Japanese style similar to that of the ryokan. The particularity here? Meals are taken at fixed times in the dining room with all the guests of the guest house.
Although most minshuku is not equipped with onsen, some establishments have managed to have their hot spring. A little extra that will delight the most economical bathing enthusiasts, since the rates applied by Japanese guest houses are significantly lower than those posted in traditional inns.
Average cost per person: between 5,000 and 12,000 yen per night (from $42.50-100/40-95€), dinner and breakfast included.
Onsen villages, hot springs for the day
Taking the form of about thirty houses fitted out for their temporary inhabitants, the onsen villages are a veritable institution in the mountainous regions of Japan. With their ryokan, their restaurants, and their dozens of public baths, these relaxation areas are a must for all lovers of hot springs. We generally walk there in yukata, and we spend the day there enjoying all the spa facilities that the area offers.
Also, note that it is not compulsory to sleep there!
Indeed, many onsen villages such as Kurokawa Onsen in Kumamoto for example, offer day passes to come and enjoy the springs. These are valid for 24 hours and give access to a small part of the baths for only 1,200 yen ($100/95€).
Average cost per person: less than 1,500 yen ($12/10€) for a day pass, between 9,000 and 25,000 yen per night (from $80-200/75- 190€), dinner and breakfast included depending on the ryokan.
Onsen hotels, budget accommodation
Unlike ryokan, onsen hotels do not rely on a Japanese atmosphere to attract their customers. Quite the contrary!
With many of their Western-style rooms, buffet-style meals, and a host of ancillary activities like massage sessions, tennis lessons, and even hours of mah-jong and karaoke, these large hotel complexes are very similar to our European thalasso centers. Centers whose highlight remains the hot springs, since these hotels have several indoor and outdoor public baths.
Disappointed? Don't be!
Although most of the rooms are furnished in the western style, a small part of the accommodation remains decorated in the Japanese style. Accommodations are then among the most popular of these establishments since the latter are generally equipped with a private bath.
Lovers of onsen take advantage of it, the night is on average less expensive than in a ryokan.
Average cost per person: between 8,000 and 18,000 yen per night (from $65-150/60-140€), dinner and breakfast included.