Okayama prefecture is not your regular Osaka and Tokyo, but being one of the growing Japanese tourist destinations, more travelers are headed here to discover the beauty of this part of Japan, which is often called Land of the Sunshine.
Also, Okayama is relatively known as the fruit haven of Japan, where some of the best peaches and grapes are grown. Otherwise, the local Japanese food scene is something many come here for. Apart form the food, there are castles, shrines, temples, gardens and natural hot springs that make up this beautiful destination.
For those seeking a true Japanese Onsen or traditional hot spring, Okayama is one of the sought after places where there are many different categories of hot springs available. Most of these Onsen are located on the north part of Okayama, where you can find the big three onsen here.
If you are planning to visit northern Okayama, the list below shares some of the recommended places where you can stay and enjoy the authentic Okayama Onsen. Some of the resorts and hotels here have their own hot springs, making it easy for anyone traveling solo, as a couple or even as a family.
And also to add on, there are over a few hundred hot spring or onsen hotels, resorts located all over Okayama. This list only selects a few reputable ones that are in the northern part of this prefecture.
One of the beautiful onsen in Yunogo, Okayama. Photo from JalanNet.
Known as probably the oldest Japanese hot spring, Yunugo has a 1000 year old history and is one of the most famous in Okayama. The location of this onsen is also tucked away from the commercial city areas and is very popular with the local Japanese women due to the skin beautifying properties from the minerals in the spring.
Many locals come here because the hot spring waters provide healing effects for those suffering from chronic feminine problems, chronic digestive disorders, nerve pain, rheumatism, arthritic, and skin problems. Yunogo is also noted as one of the best hot springs in Okayama.
Yonugo Hot Spring
Address: 323-2, Yunogo, Mimasaka City, Okayama Prefecture
The three pool Sunayu Onsen which is open to the public.
Sunayu Sand Bath
This is known to the Japanese as one of the most famous and best outdoor onsen in all Japan. Here, you can find three types of baths which are the Bijin no yu (hot spring of beauty), Kodakara no yu (hot spring of fertility), and Choju no yu (hot spring of longevity), where water temperatures range from 48 to 60 °C.
People come here to treat nerve pains, and most importantly for skincare treatment. And best of all, Suna-Yu is free to access, there is no entry fees for visitors.
Guests enjoying the natural onsen at Yubara Onsen Hakkei.
One of the highly recommended hotels near here is the Hot Spring Yubara Onsen Hakkei, which offers a hypotonic alkaline hot spring of PH 9.3, colorless, transparent, tasteless and odorless spring water, and it is even safe for babies.
The resort hotel is also full facilities, and is not a ryokan or luxury hotel, but a general hotel for everyone to enjoy the beauty of the hot springs here.
Yubara Onsen Hakkei
Address: 1572 Toyosaka, Maniwa-shi, Okayama-ken
Average Room Rate Per Person: ¥28,000
One of the Onsen in Yubara, Okayama.
Yubara Kokusai Kanko Hotel Kikunoyu
Yubara is another popular onsen and in the surrounding area, there are a few notable places to stay at. While the International Sightseeing Hotel is probably your best place to stay if you are coming here, note that the hotel offers special packages for visits to the Yubara Hot Spring.
The hotel also offers a unique outdoor bath on the rooftop for guests staying here, and daily shuttles to the popular Yubara Onsen. Just so you know, not all Japanese onsen have accommodations, and are better that way.
Yubara Kokusai Kanko Hotel Kikunoyu
Address: 〒717-0402 16, Yubaraonsen, Maniwa city, Okayama
One of the ryokan hot spring tubs in Maniwa, Okayama. Photo by Charlie on Flickr.
This homely managed guesthouse only offers five rooms, and it is only a two minute walk to the West Yokozuna Onsen in Maniwa City, Okayama. For those wanting to experience a pure Japanese ryokan experience, this is the place to try.
The location of Kajikaso Inn is close by the Asahi River, and to many hot spring hotels. There are also general stores, cafes and restaurants located along the road here. Think of this place as a budget experience in Maniwa City.
Address: 13-6 Yubaraonsen, Maniwa
Tel: +81 867-62-3666
Average Room Rates Per Person: ¥8500
Guests in traditional Japanese onsen attire at Okutsu Hot Springs.
Okutsu Hot Spring Hotel
Over in the Tomata district of north Okayama, you will find a well known onsen called Okutsu Hot Spring that is located by the Yoshii River. The onsen facilities here include indoor and outdoor types which are suitable for singles, couples or groups. They have a no children policy here, which means ultimate privacy.
The spring water is alkaline based with an average temperature of 42 degrees celsius with a PH of 9.1. Many come here to relieve common health problems like muscle and joint pains. Apart from the common onsen, there are also private baths available for hotel guests.
Okutsu Hot Spring Hotel
Address: 462 Okutsu, Kagamino, Tomata District, Okayama Prefecture 708-0503, Japan
Tel: +81 868-52-0610
Average Room Rates Per Person: ¥50,000
Entrance to Okutsuso Ryokan in Tomata region of Okayama.
This traditional ryokan is more on the higher end, and comes with only eight guest rooms, where six are traditional Japanese with tatami and two which are special rooms with outdoor hot spring baths.
For privacy and a peaceful experience, this ryokan is strict with their guests age where the minimum age to stay here is 12 years old. Each of the rooms come with full amenities and traditional Japanese food is served for meals at their cafe cum restaurant.
In the ryokan, they have four large onsen which is only for guests, and you can try all of them. For anyone who plans to stay here, you will experience a true traditional Japanese onsen, deep in the heart of northern Okayama, and away from the hustle and bustle of the fast city life.
Address: 48 Okutsu, Kagamino-cho, Tomata-gun, Okayama, 708-0503 Japan
Average Price Per Person: ¥40,000
Scenic view of Okayama
Just for your added information, there are over 35,000 hot spring facilities located all over Japan, but it is here in northern Okayama that you will find some of the best and original onsen where natural hot spring water comes out directly from the source. Most of the other hot springs have water pumped into from a source located elsewhere.
This is the main reason why many people who want to experience a true onsen, will head to this part of Okayama versus other commercial hot springs. It is also said that the best time to experience the Okayama onsen is during the autumn or winter time. So, the next time you want something different when you re-visit Japan, think of the Okayama hot springs.