Open-air hot springs in an idyllic riverside town
In the northern part of Okayama, there are three famous hot spring resorts that are known for their healing properties and invigorating experiences. These resorts, Yubara, Okutsu, and Yunogo, each offer their own unique version of the hot spring experience, and they are all worth a visit.
Yubara Onsen is located just downstream from Yubara Dam and is known for its pristine natural environment. The onsen waters bubble up from the riverbed, creating what is known as Yubara’s “sand baths.” These sand baths are a unique experience where visitors can bury themselves in the warm river sands and let the natural minerals and heat from the hot springs rejuvenate their bodies. The open-air Yubara Onsen bath is free of charge and offers both unisex bathing and a separate area for children. For those looking for a more traditional onsen experience, the adjacent Municipal Yumoto Onsen-kan offers a variety of facilities including saunas, jacuzzis, and family baths. During your stay in Yubara Onsen, don’t forget to take a walk through the town and visit the local shops, folk museums, and cultural centers. You can learn about the unique qualities of the region, including the town’s mascot, a giant salamander. The Hanzaki Giant Salamander Festival, held at the beginning of August, is a major event in the area that celebrates both the celebrity amphibian and the success of the town.
Okutsu Onsen is another hot spring resort in northern Okayama that is known as the “bath of beauty.” The name comes from the qualities of the water in the onsen and its effects on a woman’s skin. However, Okutsu Onsen is more than just a place to relax and rejuvenate. It is also known for its unique cultural traditions. One of these traditions is the practice of local women washing their laundry in the river while performing a rhythmic dance in colorful regional costumes. This dance is still performed for visitors on Sundays and holidays, excluding the winter months. If you happen to visit Okutsu Onsen between late October and mid-November, you can also participate in the Okutsu Maple Leaf Festival. The festival includes the night illumination of Okutsu Gorge, where the changing colors of the leaves mark the arrival of autumn.
Yunogo Onsen is a hot spring village that offers not only refreshing waters but also the opportunity to experience traditional Japanese culture. Legend has it that a white heron with an injured leg came to these waters to heal its wound, hence the name “heron hot spring.” In Yunogo Onsen, you can walk around dressed in a kimono and immerse yourself in the atmosphere of old japan. On New Year’s Eve, you can also witness a spectacular fireworks display in a scenic natural setting.
The three hot spring resorts of Mimasaka, Yubara, Okutsu, and Yunogo, are the darlings of northern Okayama for many reasons. The healing properties of the hot springs, the beautiful landscape, the picturesque towns, and the warm welcome extended to visitors are just a few of the reasons why these hot springs are worth a visit.
To get to Yubara Onsen, you can take the Chutetsu bus bound for Hiruzen from Tenmaya Bus Center in Okayama City to Katsuyama Station. From there, you can catch the Maniwa City Community bus to Yubara Onsen. If you prefer to visit Okutsu Onsen, you can take the Tsuyama Line from Okayama Station to Tsuyama Station and then take the bus bound for Okutsu. For Yunogo Onsen, you can take the Tsuyama Line from Okayama Station to Tsuyama Station, transfer to the Kishin Line, take the Kishin Line to Hayashino Station, and then take a 10-minute taxi ride to the hot spring.
In conclusion, the open-air hot springs in the idyllic riverside town of Mimasaka in northern Okayama offer a unique and rejuvenating experience. Whether you choose to visit Yubara Onsen, Okutsu Onsen, or Yunogo Onsen, you will be able to enjoy the healing properties of the alkaline hot springs and immerse yourself in the rich cultural traditions of the region. So why not take a break from the hustle and bustle of city life and indulge in a relaxing and invigorating hot spring experience in northern Okayama?
Address And Maps Location:
Yunogo, Mimasaka-shi, Okayama-ken