Mt. Norikura is a potentially active volcano straddling the border of Nagano Prefecture and Gifu Prefecture near the resort of Kamikochi and Takayama City. Prefecture. It is one of the 100 Famous Mountains in Japan, consisting of a number of peaks, lakes and plateaus, with the main summit, Kengamine reaching an altitude of 3,026 meters. There are many hot spring resorts on the lower slopes of Mt. Norikura, and is a favorite with climbers and skiers. This time, we introduce one of the most popular, Shirahone Onsen (literally "White Bone Hot Spring".

Shirahone Onsen, popular since the Edo Period

Photo provided by Nagano Prefectural Tourism & Local Products Association

The water of Shirahone Onsen is opaque milky white because of its calcium and magnesium content. This town has a 400-year history and has prospered since the Edo Period. It was originally known as Shirafune (white boat), but the name was changed to Shirahone (white bone)  after it was identified as such in a novel in the Meiji Era.

The  acidity of the water is low enough that you can drink it. The onsen kayu or hot-spring porridge, a specialty of Shirahone Onsen uses the hot water to cook. It is a must to try when you visit and many tourists enjoy it for breakfast. 

Try Mixed Bathing at Shirahone Onsen

Photo provided by Nagano Prefectural Tourism & Local Products Association

In Japan, there are a few hot springs where you can enjoy a mixed-gender bath. Shirahone Onsen is one of them because the hot spring's white water ensures decorum. There are several ryokans with mixed bathing.  Friends and family members can soak in the same hot spring together using only a bathing towel, not swimsuits.

Four Seasons of Mt. Norikura 

Photo provided by Nagano Prefectural Tourism & Local Products Association

The beauty of Mt. Norikura changes with each of the four seasons.  Cherry blossoms in spring, fresh forest greenery in the early summer, a blaze of colored leaves in autumn, and white snow in winter when you can also enjoy  skiing and snowboarding.

It's a spot that you will want to visit again and again.


  • Name:Shirahone Onsen
  • Access:About 70 minutes by Alpico bus from Shinshimashima Station on the Kamikochi Line.