Being a solo female traveler can sometimes be fraught with unique challenges, but that never means you should stop exploring! In 2019, Rakuten Travel put out a study showing the five best onsen locations for Solo Female Travellers.
Taking into account things like distance from public transport and length of stay, this study has found the most desirable onsen destinations for flying solo. Let’s have a look at those spots right now!
1. Hakodate Yunokawa Onsen (Hokkaido)
This spot consistently tops lists all over the country for the best onsen spot. Located on the northernmost island of Hokkaido, this is a great retreat for those wanting to see more of rural Japan. In addition, it’s in a prime location: less than 15 minutes by taxi to Hakodate Airport, this is also a great point from which to see various other famous spots in Hakodate. This onsen water is good for the mind, body, and soul, and various types of hot spring hotels means you can meet your budget to be as luxurious or shoestring as you like.
2. Dogo Onsen (Ehime)
Dogo Onsen is located in Ehime Prefecture, located on Shikoku, the smallest of the four main islands. Dogo Onsen has been a top pick for onsens through the ages--besides being a legendary bathing place for princes, its famous wooden mazed Dogo Onsen Honkan is often said to be the inspiration for the bathhouse in the famous film “Spirited Away”.
This location is slightly harder to get to, but its popularity means there are several easy ways to get to the onsen area. In addition, its popularity as a safe and comfortable place to bathe means they’ve upped their “women-only” plans to be better valued with more privacy.
3. Hakone Yumoto Onsen (Kanagawa)
Hakone Yumoto Onsen is an extremely popular onsen spot. Its proximity to Tokyo means by Odakyu Romance Car (a limited express reserved seat train), you can be in Hakone in less than 90 minutes. This makes it an easy choice for travelers looking to stay on the main island and hoping for a simple day or overnight trip.
The waters here are some of the best in all of Japan, and many hotels and ryokans don’t require an overnight stay to use their baths. Come in from Shinjuku in the morning, take in the picturesque views of Mt. Fuji, have a tasty lunch and a hot bath, and be back in your Tokyo bed before the sun sets!
4. Yugawara Onsen (Kanagawa)
Tucked in between Atami and Hakone, the humble Yugawara Onsen can sometimes be overlooked in favor of its more popular cousins. However, this small onsen town has been beloved since the Heian period and is the only onsen mentioned by name in the first anthology of Japanese poetry.
This water contains gypsum and a low salt content, making it easier on sensitive skin than some of the harsher natural hot springs in the area. The area is also covered in u-pick tangerine orchards, making for a delightful outdoor activity in the late fall and early winter.
5. Yufuin Onsen (Oita)
Yufuin is also sort of a hidden-gem: located directly next to Beppu, this onsen has been a quiet time capsule for many years. This Onsen is also not on the main island, located on the northern side of the other small Japanese island of Kyushu.
This town is known for its sweet, charming, walking paths through the city streets lined with cafes and boutiques, with the beautiful Mt. Yufu rising majestically in the distance. This town still spreads out like old Japan, and visitors will be delighted to take morning walks along the rice paddies. This is a great choice for the visitor who wants a total getaway, and several easy train routes to Fukuoka mean it’s not too difficult to get to.
No matter where you choose to go, remember a few rules for the onsen. Unfortunately, most onsen still don’t allow tattoos in the bath, so make sure you know whether you can even use the public baths you reserve.
Also, most baths require you to be fully naked and are separated into gendered sections. You are meant to wash yourself in the showers before getting in the bath, to make sure you’re fresh and clean by the time you enter.
To all about to bathe, we salute you, and wish you a warm, safe, and healthy trip to the healing waters of Japan’s natural onsens!
Written by HanaSara Ito
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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