Japan is known worldwide for “onsen” which means hot spring. And it wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that onsen is one of Aso’s most distinctive features!
Kumamoto places itself as number five in the rankings of the prefectures which has the most natural hot springs, and half of them, around 600(!) can be found in the Aso area. Truly, an onsen paradise!
The reason for this overwhelming amount is, of course, the presence of Mt. Aso itself, the active volcano that naturally heats underground water through its awesome energy.
It’s easy to lump them all together with the single word “onsen” but each one has its own unique traits. So, since you probably don’t have time to visit all 600, I will recommend some of my favorites!
Nr. 1 – Onsen with picturesque scenery!
In Minami Aso, on this elevated ground, this large lodging facility towers towards the sky. The reason why you should come here is…
This superb view!
Not a single disturbance obstructs your view as you gaze out at the majestic sight of the five peaks of Aso from the warm embrace of this outdoor bath.
And as evening falls, the scenery repaints itself without losing any of its grandeur. Even when it turns pitch black you can redirect your gaze to the heavens and enjoy a beautiful starry sky.
For the early bird, if the season and conditions are right, you might even see a sea of clouds filling the valley before your eyes.
And for your information, this onsen isn’t only for staying guests but available to any visitors! Do like the Japanese and wash away the fatigue after a full day of moving about and enjoying the Aso area!
Hotel Greenpia Minamiaso
Address: 〒869-1412 Hisaishi, Minamiaso-mura, Aso-gun, Kumamoto Prefecture 4411-9
Google maps: https://goo.gl/maps/67yD27Ai5i4qTtuZ8
Bathing hours for staying guests: 06:30 – 09:00, 12:30 – 23:00
Bathing hours for non-staying guests: 12:30 – 19:00 (Final reception)
Bathing fee: Adult 600 yen, Child 300 yen
(Towels can be bought for 200 yen)
Nr. 2 – An onsen that combines innovation with traditional Japanese atmosphere
One of Aso City’s oldest and most distinguished onsen areas is Uchinomaki. Among the many accommodations, one the seeps with atmosphere and rich history is Sozankyo. Since far back, loved by cultural people, and many of the rooms retain the classical and traditional style of the past.
This is truly a place where you can feel the history, but it is also a place of exciting innovation!
For example, you can find rooms that offer a clean and modern design such as this one.
And in this fashionable and calm atmosphere, we find the large indoor onsen!
But what I like the most about Sozankyo is…
…the rooftop bar!
The top of Sozankyo has been renovated into a fashionable rooftop bar! During the winter they have transparent dome-shaped tents letting you enjoy the amazing sky as you sip on a cocktail or your drink of choice. Of course, the bar is available to anyone so feel free to drop by for a drink even if you are staying somewhere else. They also have a Shochu-bar inside where you can try out Shochu from all around the Kyushu area!
Address: 〒869-2301 145 Uchinomaki, Aso City, Kumamoto Prefecture
Google maps: https://goo.gl/maps/FaMiKzNo8S7v97sP7
Bathing hours (only for staying guests): 13:00 – 10:00(next day)
Nr. 3 – Like a movie! An onsen shrouded in lush nature!
Most famous among the many onsens of Aso is the renowned onsen area, Kurokawa onsen.
In this popular and flourishing onsen area, you can find a great many superb onsens. Forget the tumult of the surrounding world and let yourself be soothed by the murmuring of the stream and the sunlight that pierces through the thicket of the leaves. At this ryokan, you can enjoy a luxurious and peaceful moment in the natural beauty of Aso.
It is almost as if the natural hot spring water has gushed forth by mere coincidence giving birth to this small oasis in the middle of the forest. The onsen that harmonizes perfectly with the surrounding nature doesn’t only heal your body, but also your soul.
This is the perfect place to visit with someone special to enjoy some relaxing and qualitative time.
Address: 〒869-2402 6961-1 Manganji, Minamioguni-machi, Aso-gun, Kumamoto-ken
Google maps: https://goo.gl/maps/ytRK5dmRZvUtxP9Q6
Bathing hours for staying guests: 06:30 – 24:00
Bathing hours for non-staying guests: 8:30 – 21:00 (Moyai no Yu & Shiki no Yu)
Bathing fee: Adult 500 yen, Child 300 yen
Kurokawa Onsen is also known for its onsen-hopping pass, “Nyuto Tegata”. This allows you to visit 3 different onsens at the favorable price of 1300 yen! Spend a day of relaxation in Kurokawa mixing between bathing, eating and walking in this stunning environment!
Official website: https://www.kurokawaonsen.or.jp/eng_new/index.php
Nr. 4 – A sure hit for the kids! The perfect family onsen!
In Japan, many associate a trip to an onsen with something mainly adults enjoy.
The relaxing atmosphere of the onsen might not be suitable for the kids with their seemingly everlasting energy and tendency to go wild in pools… But how can you skip out on visiting an onsen when in Japan?!
Fear not! I have the perfect place for you!
At this onsen facility, all of the baths are private! As such, you can bring your kids without any worries that they might disturb other visitors.
And there is one more reason that this place is perfect for young travelers!
An onsen equipped with a slide!!
This is definitely the only onsen where I’ve seen one of these!
They also have a kid space available where children can play if they get enough of the hot springs.
In the facility, you can also find restaurants, a chocolate shop, and souvenir shops. Have a nice relaxing bath, let the kids play and enjoy a good dinner guaranteeing a day full of satisfaction.
And for your information, this place is only for day trips!
Address: 〒869-2226 Kumamoto-ken, Aso-shi, Otohime 2052-3
Website: https://www.kosugiresort.com/yurayura/ (Only in Japanese)
Google maps: https://goo.gl/maps/RFSb6iVJKN949nzp9
Mon-Sat, 11:00 – 24:00
Sun/holidays, 9:30 – 22:00
1650 – 2450 yen (Weekdays 70 min/weekends & holidays 60 min) ※Price differs depending on the bath
3900 yen (Weekdays 80 min/Weekends & holidays 70 min)
5100 yen (Weekdays 120 min/Weekends & holidays 110 min)
This is only a sliver of all the amazing and unique onsen you can find here in Aso!
I will keep introducing more from here on as well so look forward to it!