With autumn on its way and the days getting colder, all we can think of is soaking in a hot spring. In this feature, we talk about a relatively unknown hot spring spot among foreigners. Located in Fukushima Prefecture, Iizaka Onsen (hot spring) is actually one of the three famous hot springs in the Oshu region of northeast Japan. There is a saying in Japanese, which highlights the reputation of this onsen: “Iizaka in the East, Beppu in the West”.
Iizaka Onsen town has a number of ryokan, Japanese-style inns, lined up along Surikamigawa (river) giving it a classic, historic feel. There are also many public baths along the way, so you can enjoy the health effects of these hot springs even if you don’t plan on a stay.
To get to Iizaka Onsen is easy: Transfer to the Iizaka Line at Fukushima Station.
Hop onto this cute little tram that says “Good Train” at the front.
As soon as you get on the tram, you will feel like you’re finally on your way to a hot spring especially as the carriages are warm and toasty.
The window display shows a kind of entrance to a hot spring elevating your excitement further.
It takes about 20 minutes by train from Fukushima Station to reach Iizaka Onsen Station. Compared to more famous hot spring spots, this place has a rustic feel with small shops selling local specialties.
The stores here certainly remind you of simpler times.
Hot spring eggs are one of the specialty products here, and they are sold in almost all restaurants.
If you do not plan to stay here, we recommend you visit the following spots that are open to everyone. There are 9 public baths and 3 foot baths that are open to all. Sabako-yu is the oldest public bath in Iizaka Onsen and is said to be the oldest wooden bath in Japan.
Sabako-yu is also said to be the birthplace of Iizaka Onsen. Legend has it that Japan’s most famous haiku poet, Matsuo Basho, once took a bath here in 1689. Bath towels can be rented, so you don’t need to prepare anything.
If you don’t have enough time to take a bath, don’t worry. You can enjoy one of the three ashi-yu (foot bath). Hako-yu is located in Hakoyu Park and since it is on a tiny road, there is almost no one here. Rest your back against the old wooden structure while you soak your feet!
Another option is the Kyu Horikiri-tei foot bath at the old Horikiri residence. Free towels are provided and in addition to the foot baths, there are also hand baths, which are quite rare.
There are many fruit orchards near the hot spring area. In each season, you can experience fruit picking activities. Cherries from this region are famous in Japan, so if you plan to visit in the summer months of June and July, don’t miss it.
Another great thing about this town is that you rent a bicycle and cycle along the Iizaka tram line. It’s an electric bicycle that costs just 300 yen for 4 hours.
This is something you won’t find in more famous and larger onsen towns. Cycle away from the town to enjoy the natural beauty of Fukushima.
Hope you enjoyed this sneak peek into a relatively infamous hot spring area. Check the Official Website for latest updates and events.
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