A “Hot Spring Paradise” offering Opportunities for Outdoor Bathing with Beautiful Views
In every respect, Aizu is a hidden “hot spring paradise.”
Aizu offers eight of Japan’s ten “spring quality” types containing constituents for a healthy mind and body, as well as a multitude of onsen locations in forests and on plateaus, lakesides, and riversides.
Aizu is home to many hot springs with varying active constituents.
Higashiyama Onsen is a sulfate spring that contains large amounts of calcium. The spring improves circulation and helps maintain body temperature.
The outdoor bath of Nekoma Hotel offers panoramic view of Lake Hibara. It is a reddish-brown chloride spring with high salinity that helps relieve gastrointestinal fatigue.
Many hot springs (onsen) that are the product of volcanic energy can be found in Asia. However, an extraordinarily large number—approximately 27,000—are concentrated in Japan, which makes it one of the most hot spring-rich places of the world. Onsen bathing—a combination of tourism, recreation, and recuperation—has long been part of the Japanese national character. In fact, onsen facilities can be found in every one of Japan’s prefectures.
As is demonstrated by the existence of the word toji (hot spring cure), the idea of “curing ailments with hot water” was commonplace in the days before medical care became available in rural areas. People chose the onsen they would visit depending on the particular ailment they had. The effects of onsen bathing are not limited to those brought by the hot water. Onsen water is classified into ten “spring quality” types that are based on the minerals and other various effective constituents found in the water. The symptoms and conditions that correspond to each type have been documented in writing by the national government.
As a region surrounded by mountains, Aizu also boasts abundant hot spring resources. Indeed, Aizu is considered to be an “onsen paradise,” as eight of the ten spring quality types can be found within it. The region was part of the seafloor in ancient times, and as a result the “chloride spring” type, which has a high sodium content, is the most commonly found over a large area. The next most common type is the soft-water “simple hot spring.” This type is easy to get used to and is recommended for first-time onsen-goers.
In the region’s northeast, where Mt. Bandai and other active volcanoes exist, onsen of the “iron spring” and bacteria-killing “acidic spring” types are found. In the west are the rare “bicarbonate spring” and “carbon dioxide spring” types, which have high carbon content. Onsen of the “sulfate spring” and “sulfur spring” types, which are effective in preventing arteriosclerosis can also be found deep in the mountains.
Beautiful vistas of mountains, rivers, and lakes
The Jacuzzi at Lotos Inn offers more than just a variety of bathing experience. It also has a high metasilicic acid content that is extremely effective in beautifying the skin.
Ashiyu are easy to try during your travel in Aizu. Soaking your feet, known as the body’s “second heart,” in the hot water will improve your circulation and activate your metabolic function!
Of course, the attractiveness of hot springs goes beyond their rich spring quality. Doubling their value is the natural environments within which they are found, as well as their treats for the eyes, which include views from open air baths. In Aizu, a region rich with topographic variation, one can fully appreciate the splendor of Mother Nature while soaking in an outdoor bath surrounded by high mountains or a forest, or overlooking a great river or lake.
Onsen facilities come in various types, as even people who love onsen can have greatly divergent tastes. There are bathing complexes that have both onsen baths and a resort-type hot swimming pool. There are facilities that have a simple large bath and nothing else. And there are communal baths that offer a wilder atmosphere, where the bath is formed simply by joining rocks together. Aizu is endlessly appealing to all who come to appreciate hot spring bathing.
However, if you feel uncomfortable entering an onsen with many strangers, there is a type that is perfect for enjoying the benefits of hot spring bathing and melting away your travel fatigue. It is called ashiyu (foot bath). Simply sit on a bench and soak your bare feet for a while, and let the effects of the hot water improve your circulation and relieve your swollen or tired feet. Give ashiyu a try if you encounter one during your travel!