Nasu Onsen is a large hot spring resort in Tochigi Prefecture. The resort can be accessed by train in only 2 hours from central Tokyo. Because of its convenience, Nasu Onsen is a popular getaway for weekend trips especially with people who want to enjoy beautiful nature as well as to relax in onsen baths. In this article, we introduce Nasu Onsen and what you can do around the onsen resort.
Nasu Onsen Town
Nasu Onsen resort has a long history. It is said that the first hot spring facility “Shika no Yu” opened in 630. The hot spring is known to help cure various dermatological issues such as burns and cuts. In old days, many monks and warriors used to visit the hot spring to heal their wounds from a battle.
The current Nasu Onsen has about a dozen bathing facilities and nearly 30 inns with hot springs. Some of them are open to the public and welcome drop-inn bathers. The quality and beneficial effects of the hot spring vary depending on the facility.
While you are in the town, you probably want to take a quick look at Murder Stone, as terrifying as it sounds, which is a large rock that vents volcanic gases. A legend says that a nine-tailed demon fox transformed into a beautiful lady to try and seduce the emperor, but was discovered and killed before it could enact its plan. The fox’s body turned into the murder stone. Long time ago, people had no idea of toxic volcanic gas and assumed it was the work of the demon fox. You can’t get close to the stone and if the amount of emission of the gas is high, there might be a restriction to enter the area.
On the way up to the stone, you will encounter thousands of Jizo statues. To be surprised, only one stonemasonry made all of them since 1978!
Mount Nasudake, or Mount Nasu, is a group of complex volcanoes located in the northeast part of Nikko National Park. It consists of several peaks including Mount Chausu which is 1,915 meters in height and is a popular hiking destination.
The Hachiman Tsutsuji Gunraku is a large field of azaleas (“tsutsuji” in Japanese) in Nasu Onsen. You will find a boardwalk trail which stretches out over 3 kilometers through the field, offering various walking courses. In late May when the flowering bushes are in full bloom, many people visit the place to enjoy the flowers and their pleasant scent.
Tsutsuji Suspension Bridge is another popular destination for tourists. The bridge is 130 meter long and 38 meters above the valley. It offers good views of Mount Nasudake in the distance. The views are especially beautiful when the leaves change their colors into bright yellow, red and orange in early to mid-October.
Nearby hiking trails
There are a variety of hiking trails in Mount Nasu where you can enjoy a splendid natural environment. One of the most popular hiking routes is to hike up to the summit of Mount Chausu. The Nasu Ropeway takes you from a parking lot to about 800 meters up, and from the upper station it is a further 30 to 45 minute hike to the peak.
If you want to go up to the peak without using the ropeway, there is a hiking course from Mine-no-chaya to the peak of Mount Chausu, which is about 3.1 kilometers and takes about 2.5 hours. It is a fairly easy course since the trail is paved all the way. You will pass by several fumaroles from which volcanic smoke comes out.
Besides Mount Nasudake, there are several hiking trails which can be easily accessed from Nasu Onsen resort. Heisei no Mori (Heisei Forest) is a forest park that was originally part of nearby Nasu Imperial Villa. In 2011, the park was opened to the public while the villa is still used by the imperial family as a retreat. Well maintained trails lead through the forest to huts and viewpoints. An observation deck at the northwest end of the park offers views out of Komadome Waterfall.
How to get to Nasu Onsen
In order to access Nasu Onsen, you will first get on the JR Tohoku Shinkansen from Tokyo Station and get off at Nasu Shiobara Station (about 70 minutes). From Nasu Shiobara Station, transfer to JR buses which go to Shiobara Onsen (1 hour). The Shinkansen and the buses are fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass. Alternatively, you can take highway buses from Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station to Nasu Onsen (about 3.5 hours).
Recommended places to stay
There are three main hot spring bathes including an open-air hot spring and private hot spring at Jizaiso. There are also some rooms available with a private hot spring bath! This is a family friendly Japanese inn and they offer good cares for elderly people and people in the wheel chair.
Plus, the staff will pick you up at the station upon your request by bus.
Address: Tochigi, Nasu, Yumoto 206-98
Nasu Onsen Sanraku
Founded in 1923, the emperor Showa once stayed at this traditional Japanese Inn, Nasu Onsen Sanraku. You can relax at spacious outdoor hot spring surrounded by trees. If you want to get the best staying experience in Japan, here they offer the rooms and meals with the best qualities, sophisticated atmosphere and highly valued service.
Address: Tochigi, Nasu, Yumoto 206
Located on a hill, this inn has outdoor baths where you can enjoy panoramic views of the town of Nasu and surrounding mountains. Each room features tatami mats and traditional futon bedding. In the room, you can get a nice view of Yunoko Lake from a seating area next to a large window. If you are interested in skiing or snowboarding in winter, it is a very convenient place to stay because Nikko Yumoto Ski Resort is a 5-minute walk from the property.
Address: Tochigi, Nasu, Yumoto 212-486
Japan Wonder Travel Tours
Japan Wonder Travel offers the best guided tours all over Japan.
We operate various kinds of exciting tours ranging from food and drink tours to private walking tours. We can also arrange your trip upon your request.
- Nikko World Heritage Private Walking Tour (10.5 hours)
- Nikko 1-Day Private Walking Tour
- Tokyo 1-Day Highlights Private Walking Tours (8 hours)
What did you think about Nasu Onsen? The area offers relaxing and healing hot springs along with nice hiking trails in beautiful nature. Why don’t you add Nasu Onsen to your travel plan on the weekend in Japan?
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