There’s nothing quite like a rejuvenating hot spring bath in an onsen Kyoto facility. With its therapeutic and rejuvenating waters, onsens will truly replenish your energy after exploring the city for hours. A classic winter experience in Japan, onsens will give you a taste of the beguiling culture of Kyoto and the rest of the country.
Many travelers who visit Kyoto want to experience the famous hot springs of Japan also known as onsen. While there are so many traditional inns and ryokans that offer traditional bathing and spa experiences in wooden hot tubs similar to onsen. Onsen are hot spring waters with a certain level of minerals. There are no natural hot springs in the downtown Kyoto area except for Funaoka onsen near Kinkaukuji and a few onsen in Arashiyama. Hot springs usually are located in the mountainous areas and downtown Kyoto is a flat area surrounded by mountains. There are, however, many public baths or “sento” in downtown Kyoto with waters that imitate the feel and quality of an onsen.
The closest onsens that are located in the mountainous areas of Kyoto are Kurama Onsen, Kameoka Onsen and Ohara Onsen. There are also beautiful onsen towns nearby such as Arima Onsen and Kinosaki Onsen in Hyogo and Ogata Onsen in Biwako.
Travelers who stay at traditional ryokans of Kyoto are usually satisfied with the bathing experience as they either don’t notice or care about the water in the wooden hot tubs of these hotels that are not from the hot springs. Our survey shows that most foreign travelers don’t know the difference between ofuro (traditional Japanese shared or private hot tub) and onsen (naturally occurring hot spring water with certain levels of minerals). Our survey also shows that most travelers to Kyoto choose one of these three venues to experience onsen: Arashiyama Benkei, Kurama Onsen or Funaoka Onsen.
To help you pick the right spot to unwind, we’ve compiled a list of the best and most irresistible Kyoto hot springs and public baths.
1. Fufu no yu
Need a little break after all the non-stop sightseeing in Kyoto? Wondering where to go in Kyoto following your visits to Tenryuji Temple and the ethereal Bamboo forest?
Why not spend a couple of hours or a whole day of relaxing and pampering at Fufu no yu?
Refreshing and fantastic, this onsen Kyoto facility is quite effective for muscle pain, neuralgia and skin care.
Here, you’ll have terrific options for your onsen experience. You can try their inside bath (uchi buro), roten buro (open air bath), silky buro as well as the utase yu (a stream of water that cascades on your back).
As an added bonus, the onsen Kyoto facility offers a couple of sauna types.
Since the facility opened its doors in 2014, it’s fairly modern and clean. And, unlike other onsens in Kyoto, Fufu no yu offers onsen whole day use.
Fufu no yu
Address: 1 Arashiyama Kamikawaracho, Nishikyo Ward, Kyoto, 616-0001, Japan (map)
Contact number is +81 75-863-1126
Opening times are 12:00 to 10:00 PM (last admission is 09:30 PM).
Price: fee is JPY 1,000 for adults, JPY 600 for kids (3 years old to students in elementary school) and JPY 300 for infants
2. Tenzan no yu
Tenzan no Yu is, no doubt, one of the top and most popular onsens in Kyoto, Japan. Nestled in Saga, Arashiyama, this beloved spa-resort lets you indulge on a soothing hot spring experience for the whole day.
By the way, this onsen in Kyoto is the first ever calcium chloride and sodium spring in the whole Kyoto Basin. What’s more, the facility’s natural hot spring water is derived from over 1,000 meters underground.
And, guess what? Not only will its water refresh your jaded muscles and weary spirit, but it’s great for everyone’s skin as well.
To make things even better, Tenzan no Yu offers an array of hot spring baths in Kyoto, including a fish spa, carbonated spring bath and foot baths.
To me, a stopover to Tenzan no Yu is an absolute must when visiting the Arashiyama area.
Tenzan no Yu
Address: 55-4-7 Saganomiyanomotocho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, 616-8315, Japan (map)
Contact number is +81 75-882-4126
Opening times are 10:00 AM to 01:00 AM daily (last admission is at 12:00 AM).
Price: fee is JPY 1,050 for adults and JPY 500 for children (4 years old to students in elementary school)
3. Hana no yu
No list of the best Kyoto hot springs is complete without the inclusion of Hana no yu. As you visit this onsen Kyoto facility, you’ll get 12 amazing hot spring choices, including a relaxation bath, saunas, Jacuzzi and rotenburo.
A must try here is their reinvigorating Jacuzzi. With its bubbling restorative water, their Jacuzzi will help you relax and escape your bustling modern life. And, did we mention that it aids in fatigue and muscle recovery?
The natural hot spring water of this private onsen Kyoto comes from more than 1,200 meters underground.
If you’re craving for an authentic onsen Kyoto experience with the city’s locals, Hana no yu is your best bet.
Hana no yu
Address: 15-3 Mibumatsubaracho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8823, Japan (map)
Contact number is +81 75-813-2611
Opening times are 10:00 to 01:00 AM daily (last admission is 12:00 AM).
Price: fee is JPY 700 for adults and JPY 350 for children (3 years old to students in elementary school), from Mondays to Fridays. JPY 800 for adults and JPY 400 for children (3 years old to students in elementary school) on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays
4. Nizaemon no yu
Nizaemon no yu is indeed a perennial contender to the title of the best onsen in Kyoto. The onsen Kyoto facility has two hot spring varieties directly from its source. One is cold water, and the other is hot water.
The water in Nizaemon no yu is scentless and clear carbonate chloride hydrogen water. And, amazingly, it will make your skin smooth and silk after taking a bath.
Although I’m not fond of cold baths, there are some folks who love bathing in cold and hot waters alternately.
Of course, these mineral-rich cold and hot waters are therapeutic, helping guests and weary souls relax and do some fatigue recovery.
Nizaemon no yu
Address: Japan, 〒615-8165 Kyoto, Nishikyo Ward, Katagiharabonyama, ５ (map)
Contact number is +81-75-393-4500
Opening times are 10:00 to 02:00 AM (last admission is 01:30 AM) from Mondays to Fridays. 08:00 to 02:00 AM (last admission is 01:30 AM) on Saturdays, Sundays and Japanese public holidays.
Price: fee is JPY 700 for adults, JPY 350 for children (3 years old to students in elementary school), JPY 250 for infants and free for years old and below from Mondays to Fridays. JPY 850 for adults, JPY 450 for children (3 years old to students in elementary school), JPY 300 for infants and free for years old and below from Mondays to Fridays.
5. Kyoto Tower Public Bathhouse
Technically, Kyoto Tower Public Bathhouse isn’t an onsen. Truthfully, it’s just an ordinary public bath (sento).
Nevertheless, it can be a great option if you’re looking for a refreshing bath when you’re around the Kyoto Tower.
As a matter of fact, it’s located conveniently in Kyoto Tower’s basement and near the Kyoto Station.
It’s not worth a visit, though, if you’re staying far away from Kyoto station.
Kyoto Tower Public Bathhouse
Address: Japan, 〒600-8216 Kyoto, Shimogyo Ward, Higashishiokojicho, 721-1 京都タワービル B3F (map)
Contact number is +81 75-361-3215
Opening times are 07:00 AM to 10:00 PM daily (last admission is 09:30 PM).
Price: fee is JPY 750 from Mondays to Fridays and JYP 890 on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays for adults. JPY 450 for kids (2 years old to elementary school)
6. Tensho no yu
Looking for a public onsen Kyoto facility? Then, make sure to include Tensho no Yu to your Kyoto travel itinerary!
Originating from around a thousand meters underground, the water in this onsen Kyoto facility is called “beauty water” and is rich in calcium and sodium ions.
Plus, this onsen Kyoto facility offers a sauna as well as open-air baths.
Moreover, Tensho no Yu is home to the “Hydrogen Bath”, an extraordinary hydrogen-powered bath that makes your skin look gorgeous.
Tensho no Yu
Address: 19-4 Nishikyogoku Daimoncho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, 615-0812, Japan (map)
Contact number is +81 75-316-2641
Opening times are 02:00 PM to 01:00 AM daily (closed on Tuesdays).
Price: fee is JPY 430 for adults, JPY 150 for students in elementary school and JPY 60 for infants
7. Funaoka Onsen
Funaoka, in spite of its name, isn’t really an onsen Kyoto facility, but more of a sento. Even so, it’s one of the choices to enjoy therapeutic warm waters during winter in Kyoto.
It has a rather convenient location and offers different bath types, like jet medicated and outside baths.
Historic and charming, the building was established around 1923, making it Kyoto’s oldest sento. To top it all off, the building boasts an impressive exterior, thanks to its wonderfully carved wood panels.
Address: 82-1 Murasakino Minamifunaokacho, Kita Ward, Kyoto, 603-8225, Japan (map)
Contact number is +81 75-441-3735
Opening times are 03:00 PM to 01:00 AM from Mondays to Saturdays. 08:00 to 01:00 AM on Sundays.
Price: fee is JPY 430 for adults, JPY 150 or children (students in elementary school) and JPY 60 for infants
8. Ohara no Sato
Want to escape the hustle bustle city life? Trust me, you’ll love every minute of your visit at Ohana no Sato. With its surrounding mountains, the location of this onsen Kyoto facility is ideal for those longing to escape the noises of their urban life.
To spice up your visit, you may do some cycling around the area. Once done, take a reinvigorating dip to soothe your weary muscles.
There are three types on onsen available here – goemon buro, semi open-air bath (han roten buro) and inside bath (uchi buro).
Aside from its therapeutic features, the soft alkaline waters of the facility can also make your skin glow and look more eye-catching.
You can’t, however, just use their onsen, as you need to order a meal here. Thankfully, prices for their set meals are affordable starting at JPY 1,000.
Ohara no Sato
Address: 41 Oharakusaocho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 601-1248, Japan (map)
Contact number is +81 75-744-2917
Opening times are 11:30 AM to 03:30 PM daily.
Price: fee varies depending on your meal. But, usually, it starts at JPY 1,000
9. Kamigata Onsen IKKYU Kyoto Honkan
This hot spring is actually located in Osaka, not far from Kyoto. The spring water at this onsen is nothing short of fantastic. Soft on the skin, the water is remarkably silky and milky.
Rated as one of the top onsens in the region, Ikkyu is massive spa complex offering an array of restorative baths.
It has a head spa, massage spa, sauna as well as carbonated baths. Not to mention, it has an excellent restaurant that serves healthy yet tasty food.
Kamigata Onsen IKKYU Kyoto Honkan
Address: 5 Chome-9-31 Torishima, Konohana Ward, Osaka, 554-0051, Japan (map)
Contact number is +81 774-54-1419
Opening times are 10:00 AM to 01:00 AM daily, but closed on second Tuesday of the month (last admission is 12:00 AM).
Price: fee is JPY 1,143 for adults, JPY 572 for children (4 years old to students in elementary school)
10. Kurama Onsen Kyoto
They don’t call the Kurama as the one of the finest onsen Kyoto facilities for nothing. Actually, some even label it as the best ryokan in Kyoto, Japan. Set perfectly in a serene mountain near the heart of the city, this renowned onsen Kyoto facility will sweep you into bliss with its open-air baths, beautiful scenery, and natural sulfur hot springs.
With its lush environment and quaint setting, this small ryokan is truly a treat to the senses. As for their water, the facility has a simple natural hot spa, which is hydrogen sulfide spring water rich in minerals.
Important note: There’s a free shuttle bus available to the onsen Kyoto facility. You must, however, book in advance on their website.
Kurama Onsen Kyoto
Address: 520 Kuramahonmachi, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 601-1111, Japan (map)
Contact number is +81 75-741-2131
Opening times are 10:00 AM to 09:00 PM (closing time for the open-air bath is 08:00 PM during winter).
Price: day trip fee is JPY 2,500 for adults and JPY 1,600 for kids (4 to 12 years old)
Hopefully, you’ll have a blast relaxing and soaking in the curative waters of these onsen Kyoto facilities. And, while in Kyoto, don’t forget to sample the authentic Japanese culture experiences at Maikoya.
- Photo number 1: t-lounge.com
- Photo number 2: Ervaar Japan via Flickr
- Photo number 3: はなの湯
- Photo number 4: japantravel.navitime.com
- Photo number 5: sharing-kyoto.com
- Photo number 6: Tensho no Yu
- Photo number 7: why.kyoto
- Photo number 8: kyonominshukuoharanosato
- Photo number 9: osaka-info.jp
- Photo number 10: Barry Silver
Onsen Manners and Etiquette
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