【Summary】Best hot spring ranking voted by Japanese people! Recommended hot spring resorts by region in Japan

It is no exaggeration to say that Japan is a mecca blessed with of hot springs where there are many hot spring resort areas of various qualities. In Japan, the ranking of the top 100 hot springs "Nippon no Onsen Hyaku-sen" (にっぽんの温泉100選 - Japan's Top 100 Hot Springs Ranking) selected by the votes of Japanese travel agents collectively known as "travel professionals" is announced every year. This time, we will list the top 10 rankings in 2021, and introduce them by region.

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Top 10 hot springs voted by Japanese people

Top 10 hot springs chosen by Japanese people

1st place: Kusatsu Onsen, Gunma Prefecture
2nd place: Gero Onsen, Gifu Prefecture
3rd Place: Beppu Hatto Onsen, Oita Prefecture
4th place: Dogo Onsen, Ehime Prefecture
5th place: Hakone Onsen, Kanagawa Prefecture
6th place: Noboribetsu Onsen, Hokkaido Prefecture
7th place: Arima Onsen, Hyogo Prefecture
8th place: Ibusuki Onsen, Kagoshima Prefecture
9th place: Yufuin Onsen, Oita Prefecture
10th place: Wakura Onsen, Ishikawa Prefecture

*Source: 100th overall ranking for 2021 in "Japan's Top 100 Hot Springs Ranking"

Kusatsu Onsen in Gunma Prefecture has actually been ranked number one in Japan's Top 100 Hot Springs for 19 consecutive years! It is home to the largest amount of natural hot spring water in Japan, and was also ranked first in each category of "Atmosphere", "Highlights/Leisure & Experiences", and "Spring Quality". When traveling to Tokyo next time, be sure to go a little further and visit Kusatsu Onsen in Gunma Prefecture that represents Japan!

The hot spring areas ranked 2nd to 10th are all popular and famous. If you like hot springs, please check and count how many you have conquered!

Best hot spring resorts in Hokkaido

Best hot spring resorts in Hokkaido area
Noboribetsu Onsen

AreaHot Spring Resorts (Ranking in 2021)
Central Hokkaido (major tourist destinations: Sapporo, Otaru, etc.)
Noboribetsu (6), Jozankei (39)、Toyako (48)
Eastern Hokkaido (major tourist destinations: Shiretoko, Kushiro, etc.)
Tokachigawa (22)
Southern Hokkaido (major tourist destinations: Hakodate, etc.)
Yunokawa (24)
Northern Hokkaido (Furano and Wakkanai)
Sounkyo (43)

Hokkaido is Japan's second largest island, so it is recommended to go to the hot spring resorts in the area according to the famous sightseeing spots. For example, if you are going on a short trip and want to sightsee around New Chitose Airport, Sapporo, and Otaru, then Noboribetsu and Jozankei which are easily accessible from Sapporo city that makes a two-day-one-night hot spring trip is ideal. If you are visiting the eastern Hokkaido area such as Kushiro, Obihiro, and Monbetsu, then the Tokachigawa Onsen and Akanko Onsen, which was ranked 52nd, are also good choices.

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Tohoku region's best hot spring resorts

Tohoku Area's Best Hot Spring Resorts
Ginzan Onsen

PrefectureHot Spring Resorts (Ranking in 2021)
Aomori Prefecture
Sakuya (42)
Yamagata Prefecture
Ginzan (13), Zao (30)
Iwate Prefecture
Hanamaki Onsenkyo (34)
Akita Prefecture
Nyuto Onsenkyo (14)
Miyagi Prefecture
Naruko (21), Akiu (35)

Yamagata and Aomori Prefectures are known as "the lands of snow" in winter. If you go to a hot spring resort in this area, we recommend soaking in an open-air bath while watching the snow. Especially if you want to enjoy winter sports at the same time, then Zao Onsen is a must-visit. There are many hot spring inns within walking distance from Zao Onsen Ski Resort, one of the largest snow resorts in Tohoku.

Ginzan Onsen, which boasts a history of 500 years, has become a hot topic around the world because it resembles the setting of the Studio Ghibli movie "Spirited Away"(although it is actually not the location used as the model). As you stroll through the hot spring town at night, immerse yourself in the retro atmosphere of the streets lined with gas lamps and wooden inns.

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The best hot spring resorts in the Kanto region that you definitely want to go when visiting Tokyo

The best hot spring resorts in the Kanto area that you definitely want to go when visiting Tokyo
Kusatsu Onsen

PrefectureHot Spring Resort (Ranking in 2021)
Tochigi Prefecture
Kinugawa・Kawaji (17), Shiobara (50)
Kanagawa Prefecture
Hakone (5)
Gunma Prefecture
Kusatsu (1), Ikaho (15), Manza (27), Shima (43)

Tokyo is no doubt a popular tourist destination for foreign tourists, but unfortunately there are not many hot spring resorts in the Metropolis area. That's why if you are traveling to Tokyo, visiting the hot spring resorts in neighboring prefectures that can be reached in about two hours would be a great alternative.

Kusatsu Onsen and Hakone Onsen, which were ranked 1st and 5th, are of course popular, Meanwhile, around Ikaho Onsen in Gunma Prefecture, which ranked 15th, there are also many amusement parks, museums, shrines and scenic spots rich in nature. It is a hot spring resort where you can fully enjoy sightseeing as well!

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The best hot spring resort in the Chubu region

The best hot spring resort in the Chubu area
Gero Onsen

PrefectureHot Spring Resort (Ranking in 2021)
Toyama Prefecture
Unazuki (47)
Gifu Prefecture
Gero (2), Okuhida-Onsengo (18), Hida Takayama (26), Nagaragawa (28)
Niigata Prefecture
Tsukioka (19)
Ishikawa Prefecture
Wakura (10), Yamanaka (29), Yamashiro (32)
Fukui Prefecture
Awara (40)
Nagano Prefecture
Shirahone (31), Hirugami (36), Yudanaka & Shibu Onsenkyo (45)
Shizuoka Prefecture
Atami (20), Shuzenji (37), Kannon (46), Inatori (49)

Gifu Prefecture's Gero Onsen, which came in second place in the ranking, is known as one of Japan's top three hot springs along with Kusatsu Onsen and Arima Onsen. Gero Onsen, a.k.a the "beauty's hot spring", is characterized by its unique hot water that is smooth to the touch.

Surrounded by mountains, Nagano Prefecture is especially popular among hiking enthusiasts. There are many hot spring resorts in Nagano Prefecture. Soaking in the hot springs after climbing the mountain would definitely heal your fatigue.

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If you visit Osaka or Kyoto, here are the best hot springs in the Kansai region which are close by

If you visit Osaka or Kyoto, here are the best hot springs in the Kansai area which are close by

PrefectureHot Spring Resort (Ranking in 2021)
Hyogo Prefecture
Arima (7), Kinosaki (11)
Wakayama Prefecture
Shirahama (33)

Osaka and Kyoto are famous tourist destinations in the Kansai region, but when it comes to hot spring resorts in the Kansai region, Arima Onsen and Kinosaki Onsen in neighboring Hyogo Prefecture and Shirahama Onsen in Wakayama Prefecture are famous.

Arima Onsen, which has been selected as one of Japan's three oldest hot springs along with Japan's three famous hot springs, is one of the most famous hot springs in not just in Kansai but in the whole Japan as well. Arima Onsen has two types of hot springs, Kinsen (Golden Srping) and Ginsen (Silver Spring), which are said to be highly effective in retaining heat and beautifying the skin, as well as enhancing natural healing powers. Shirahama Onsen, also known as one of Japan's three oldest hot springs, is famous for its beautiful white sand beaches, and there are many hot spring inns with baths bordering the Pacific Ocean. The resort atmosphere is perfect for a summer trip.

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The best hot spring resorts in the Chugoku/Shikoku regions

Dogo Onsen

PrefectureHot Spring Resort (Ranking in 2021)
Shimane Prefecture
Tamatsukuri (16)
Tottori Prefecture
Misasa (41)
Ehime PrefectureDogo (4)

There may not be many hot springs in the Chugoku/Shikoku regions, but Dogo Onsen in Ehime Prefecture, which is called one of Japan's three oldest hot springs, is so renowned that it was ranked fourth. In addition, Tamatsukuri Onsen in Izumo, Shimane Prefecture is called “beautiful skin spring”. The spring quality is characterized by a lot of moisturizing ingredients similar to lotion.

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Best hot spring resorts in the Kyushu region such as Kagoshima

Best hot spring resorts in the Kyushu region such as Kagoshima
Ibusuki's Sunamushi Onsen sand bath
© K.P.V.B

PrefectureHot Spring Resort (Ranking in 2021)
Saga Prefecture
Ureshino (25)
Oita Prefecture
Beppu Hatto (3), Yufuin (9)
Kumamoto Prefecture
Kurokawa (12)
Nagasaki Prefecture
Unzen (38)
Kagoshima Prefecture
Ibusuki (8), Kirishima (23)

Kyushu is generally called "hot spring paradise" as the area hosts many hot spring resorts of different characteristics. Beppu Hatto Onsen is a collective name referring to the eight hot spring villages, and the number of hot spring sources and the total amount of hot spring water (naturally gushing out and pumped) is the largest in Japan! Each hot spring is characterized by its different quality and atmosphere.

Ibusuki Onsen is famous for its unique bathing method called “Sunamushi Onsen” (sand bath), where the whole body is covered with sand. Also, at “Tamatebako Onsen”, you can enjoy the hot spring while looking at the magnificent view of the ocean in front of you, which is great for soothing the mind.


How many hot spring resorts have you crossed off in the list? Let us know your opinions about the places you've been to in the comments!