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Sumatakyo Onsen

From the coast to the mountains, Shizuoka Prefecture is one of Japan’s go-to destinations for hot springs (known as “onsen” in Japanese). But rather than limiting yourself to an afternoon at the baths, visit the town of Sumatakyo Onsen’s mineral-rich waters and do it right.

Index

  • Getting there

  • A Town of Onsen

  • Gorge on Beauty

  • Suikoen Hotel

  • Bijin

  • Getting there

    Only a 90-minute drive from Shizuoka City, Sumatakyo can be reached just as easily by train: take the Tokaido Line from Higashi Shizuoka to Kanaya Station, board the Oigawa Line’s 1940s steam engine bound for Senzu Station, and then travel by bus to your final destination. It might be a little more cumbersome than a direct route, but you’ll be treated to fantastic views of the Oi River as you climb into the South Japanese Alps en route to your soothing escape.

  • A Town of Onsen

    Sumatakyo Onsen was founded in 1962. It’s a little sleepier than in its heyday, but its 8 onsen hotels make it great for a day trip–though an overnight stay is recommended if time allows. Onsen are said provide a host of health benefits from improved circulation to decreased blood pressure–and, though it may not help your well-being in the traditional sense, beauty. That’s right: the soothing spas of Sumatakyo Onsen’s high hydrogen sulfide and sulphur content have earned them the reputation of “bijinzukuri no yu,” which translates to mean “hot water that makes you beautiful.” Take a stroll through the towns quaint ryokans and cafes and check out the locals to judge the veracity of this claim for yourself.

    A Town of Onsen

    A Town of Onsen

  • Gorge on Beauty

    Before hitting the baths, you might want extend your walk into a full-blown hike. Sumatakyo Onsen is tucked into the heart of the Southern Alps, beautiful in any season but perhaps the most crowded during annual pilgrimages to see the fall foliage. No matter when you visit, leave time for a hike to Sumatakyo Gorge. Only a few kilometres from Sumatakyo, its narrow suspension bridge (charmingly christened “Yume no Tsuri-bashi,” the suspension bridge of dreams) offers a memorable vantage point of the green-blue spring water below. The alps’ altitude makes them slightly cooler than Shizuoka city, so it’s a nice place to escape in the hottest stretches of summer heat.

    Gorge on Beauty

    Gorge on Beauty

  • Suikoen Hotel

    Though you have plenty of onsen options to choose from, check out Suikoen Hotel for a truly vintage experience. Entering this traditional ryokan feels a bit like cracking open a time capsule, and what it lacks in modern amenities is made up for in warm service and charming indoor and open air baths. Overnight guests can enjoy kaiseki (a full-course dinner) featuring local favourites like grilled yamame (cherry salmon), barbecued pork marinated in miso paste, and deer venison. Since Shizuoka is nationally known for its tea production, you’ll also be treated to green tea jelly for dessert. Self-serve breakfast is available the next morning in both Western and Japanese styles, making for a great place to refuel before the trip home. Rooms are available for between 12,000 to 19,000 yen and include two meals (dinner and breakfast) and onsen entry. However, if you’re just popping by for a dip, the hot springs can be enjoyed on their own for a reasonable 600 yen (with a towel service).

    Suikoen Hotel

    Suikoen Hotel

  • Bijin

    Look for a statue of a gazelle to find this tiny onsen whose name means “beauty.” It’s small and rustic, with visitors paying for entry via a slim ticket machine next to the entrance, but its hillside location makes it a perfect window to nature. Soak in either hot or cold outdoor pools while you bask in the lush foliage of the Southern Alps and, if the name holds water, slowly transform into your most irresistible self.

    Bijin

    Bijin

    Sumatakyo Onsen
    Address
    Shizuoka prefecture Haibara-gun Kawane Honmachi Dimaikyo
    Phone
    0547592746
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