HOME Tokyo and Surroundings Tokyo Tokyo Station Explore, Eat, Relax - Welcome to the World of Onsen Gastronomy! Travel Japan's countryside, expand your culinary horizons, and soak in sumptuous hot springs
Explore, Eat, Relax - Welcome to the World of Onsen Gastronomy! Travel Japan's countryside, expand your culinary horizons, and soak in sumptuous hot springs

Explore, Eat, Relax - Welcome to the World of Onsen Gastronomy! Travel Japan's countryside, expand your culinary horizons, and soak in sumptuous hot springs

Date published: 29 January 2021
Last updated: 2 February 2021

Everyone wants to see a different side of Japan, to turn over a new stone and see what lies beneath. Fortunately, the country always finds a way to reward the inquisitive. Given the sheer number of picturesque mountain hamlets, secluded shorelines, and remote mountain getaways, it can be hard to know where to start!

Entering into this quandary is the Onsen & Gastronomy Walking project, a new tourism concept that brings the traditional Japanese nature resort experience to a whole new generation.

Read on for a delicious taste of what Onsen & Gastronomy Walking has to offer. And if you aren’t convinced to join us on the trails, well, we have failed—because this is a side of Japan everyone owes it to themselves to experience!

The Original Japanese Resort Experience

The Original Japanese Resort Experience

As an archipelago rife with volcanic activity, Japan is blessed with verdant nature and steaming hot springs born from these natural phenomena. In fact, the two go hand in hand, with many sites of exceptional natural beauty dotted with plumes of steam.

As such, with the exception of cities, most of Japan’s sightseeing centers on onsen as the place to rest and rejuvenate. In Japanese, the term refers to both the waters themselves and the facilities built around them.

Natural hot spring water

But that’s not all. While hot springs are important, delicious regional food, fine wine, and other beverages, as well as local sightseeing, are a must to complete the full onsen experience.

It is the three pillars—exploration, gastronomy, and relaxation—that Onsen & Gastronomy Walking aims to deliver. And until you have experienced how they come together, you really haven’t seen all that Japan has to offer.

Into the Unknown!

Into the Unknown!

The Onsen & Gastronomy Walking tours can take place almost anywhere nationwide, but with preference given to areas off the beaten tourist track, this is a great chance to step into the unknown and explore a side of the country precious few visitors can lay claim to have seen.

Ready to set off!

Each route aims to encapsulate the varied nature and townscape of a given area. Along the way will be a number of stops—each offering food and drinks—that represent the area’s cuisine. At the end, an onsen awaits you just beyond the finish line, so count down and get ready to start the festivities!

On Your Mark...

On Your Mark...

No advance registration is necessary. Simply turn up at the Onsen & Gastronomy Walking check-in and complete a simple entry form. The participation fee covers all food and drinks, the hot springs, a couple of fun free gifts, and insurance—just in case, this being the great outdoors.

Get Set...

Get Set...
If you are lucky you might meet the local mascots!

This is a rare chance to feel part of a Japanese community instantly. Both travelers from abroad and Japanese tourists take part in the tours—everyone easily identified by their Onsen & Gastronomy Walking shoulder bags. So, even before the local sake begins to flow, there is a feeling of comradery that brings everyone together for the walk.

And We’re Off!

And We’re Off!
Easy-to-follow signs dot the route

While is a tendency to zoom ahead at first, the best way to enjoy the route is to chill out and appreciate the scenery at your own pace. Wherever your walking tour takes place, you can be sure that your route will take you through the beautiful nature responsible for the delicious food you are about to enjoy.

Fuel for the Journey

Fuel for the Journey
Sizzling sausages and...
...local craft beer!

The food stops along the way will each have a couple of dining options, as well as beverages with alcohol and non-alcohol drinks on offer. Gastronomy being the order of the day, the food ranges from dishes honed through centuries of tradition to contemporary cuisine that you might not be expecting.

Whatever the food or drink, it will have been prepared locally, creating a menu that encapsulates the character of the area. Dishes are frequently served by the farmers or producers themselves, and there is a tangible sense of local pride as each new delicacy made its appearance.

Stunning Scenery

Stunning Scenery

Routes are planned with variety in mind; no sooner will you have swept past a tranquil lake than you will be greeted by the incense-infused air of a mountain temple. Every photo will be a souvenir you can only capture far from the well-trodden tourist path.

With so many food and rest stops breaking up the journey, you will never worry about being out of breath. Each journey between stops gives you just enough time and exercise to work off the previous meal before the next!

End in Sight!

End in Sight!

Once you reach the goal, the final dish on the tasting menu will be in sight!

Once you have ticked off all the checkpoints, all that is left to do is soak in the natural steaming hot springs of the local onsen. Some routes have a choice of onsen, so pick your favorite and relax your legs in the healing waters.

Join the Fun

Join the Fun

As an ongoing project, this concept is going to be rolled out nationwide, so be sure to play your part in spreading the Japanese nature resort experience to the audience it deserves. Along the way, you are guaranteed a new encounter with Japanese gastronomy in a stunning natural setting. And just as your senses are full to burst, you will remember that the onsen is still to come at the end!

For all the latest information on the next Onsen & Gastronomy Walking event, please visit the official website below and get ready to expand your culinary and cultural horizons!

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

Share this article.

Recommended places for you

Recommended articles for first-time visitors to Tokyo
Search