14 Best Onsen in Kyoto | Natural Hot Springs in a Historical City

14 Best Onsen in Kyoto | Natural Hot Springs in a Historical City

Photo courtesy of Rurinohama

Are you looking to relax in an onsen after a day of exploration in Kyoto?

There are many ryokan (Japanese-style inns) and sento (public baths) in the city where you can really take in the culture of Japan while bathing in a natural onsen.

In this article, we will be covering spots where you can enjoy a day trip to an onsen, lodges with onsen where you can stay overnight, as well as facilities that offer private onsen.

Going to a hot spring can be an indispensable part of a visit to Kyoto, so we hope that this helps you in planning your trip.

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Table of Contents

  1. Onsen you can visit on a day trip
  2. Ryokan and hotels with onsen for overnight trips
  3. Tattoo-friendly, private onsen
  4. Onsen town around Kyoto
  5. Conclusion

Onsen you can visit on a day trip

If you are only spending a day in Kyoto or have plans to stay somewhere without an onsen, you might want to try out hot springs that are meant specifically for day trips.

The following are locations where you can experience a natural onsen without having to rent a whole hotel room.

Sagano Onsen Tenzan no Yu (さがの温泉 天山の湯)

Sagano Onsen Tenzan no Yu (さがの温泉 天山の湯)
Photo courtesy of Sagano Onsen Tenzan no Yu

Located about 30 minutes by both train and car from Kyoto Station, Sagano Onsen Tenzan no Yu is what is known as a “super sento,” which is a public bathing facility that offers multiple different types of baths. Note that Sagano Onsen Tenzan no Yu is quite strict about body art, so those with tattoos should look for a different place.

Sagano Onsen Tenzan no Yu (さがの温泉 天山の湯)
Photo courtesy of Sagano Onsen Tenzan no Yu

Here, you can try out a variety of saunas, indoor and outdoor baths, and even onsen just meant for you to dip your feet in. Every weekend in the summer and winter there are light projection shows in the outdoor bath; the visuals differ depending on the season.

In addition to the baths, there are multiple options for spa treatments such as massages and aroma therapy.

The establishment is open from 10:00 am to 1:00 am, giving you plenty of time to try out everything Sagano Onsen Tenzan no Yu has to offer.

Information

  • Price: 1,010 JPY/adult, 500 JPY/child, admission for infants free
  • Address: 55-4-7 Saganomiya no Motocho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, 616-8315 (Google MAP)
  • Tattoo Friendly: No
  • Visit Official Site

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Funaoka Onsen (船岡温泉)

Funaoka Onsen (船岡温泉)
Photo courtesy of Funaoka Onsen

Funaoka Onsen is what is called a “sento.” These establishments are more meant for the bath than the relaxation aspect and have a very local and old-fashioned feel to them. Although it is quite uncommon to find in this day and age, people who live in housing without a bath would frequent the sento.

Funaoka Onsen was the first in Japan to install an “electric bath,” which emits low-frequency waves of electricity, causing your muscles to contract and helping blood flow. Some people find these baths uncomfortable, but it is definitely worth trying out at least once.

Funaoka Onsen (船岡温泉)
Photo courtesy of Funaoka Onsen

Funaoka Onsen also has a guest house that is rented out to one party per day. It is the most affordable if you stay with more people, so it is recommended for those who are traveling with a large party.

Thanks to the low prices of the bath, this is the perfect place for those who want to try out an onsen for a cheap price while also getting the true local experience.

Information

  • Price: 430 JPY/adult, 150 JPY/child, 60 JPY/infant
  • Address: 82-1 Murasakino Minamifunaokacho, Kita Ward, Kyoto, 603-8225 (Google MAP)
  • Tattoo Friendly: ?
  • Visit Official Site

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Kyoto Hot Springs Hatoya Zuihokaku Hotel (京湯元 ハトヤ瑞鳳閣)

Kyoto Hot Springs Hatoya Zuihokaku Hotel (京湯元 ハトヤ瑞鳳閣)
Photo courtesy of Kyoto Hot Springs Hatoya Zuihokaku Hotel

Kyoto Hot Springs Hatoya Zuihokaku Hotel is, as the name suggests, a hotel and not just a public bath. However, they offer special plans for those who want to just dip in the hot springs on a day trip.

The onsen features an extremely spacious indoor area, as well as all kinds of amenities for before, during, and after your bath. Kyoto Onsen is a hot spring with thousands of years of history, and also contains loads of minerals that are said to have healing effects on the skin.

Kyoto Hot Springs Hatoya Zuihokaku Hotel (京湯元 ハトヤ瑞鳳閣)
Photo courtesy of Kyoto Hot Springs Hatoya Zuihokaku Hotel

If you want to take advantage of the day trip onsen, you will have three plans to choose from. The price changes depending on the meal that you order, with a traditional Japanese meal being the most expensive.

The time slots are decided for you (starting at 11:30 am for food and then ending at 3:00 pm with the bath), so Kyoto Hot Springs Hatoya Zuihokaku Hotel may be a good choice for those who want some structure to their day. On the flip side of that, you may want to choose more of a sento-like establishment if you want a bit more freedom.

Information

  • Price: Between 3,000 JPY and 5,000 JPY per person
  • Address: 8802 Minamifudodocho, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, 600-8234 (Google MAP)
  • Tattoo Friendly: No
  • Visit Official Site

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Ryokan and hotels with onsen for overnight trips

This section is for those who are looking to spend the night somewhere with a natural hot spring.

These lodges come in all shapes and sizes, from traditional Japanese ryokan to more modern and western-style hotels. You will be sure to find one that fits your needs as well as your budget.

KURAMA ONSEN (くらま温泉)

KURAMA ONSEN (くらま温泉)
Photo courtesy of KURAMA ONSEN

KURAMA ONSEN is located north of the city in a secluded area; it will take you about an hour using local trains and buses. The guest suites are all Japanese-style with a great view of the surrounding forest.

Every year, the local city hosts the Kurama Fire Festival, which is one of the biggest festivals in Kyoto. Men carry huge torches that burn deep into the night and chants can be heard throughout the city as they proceed toward the shrine.

KURAMA ONSEN becomes extremely crowded and reservations become decided lottery style. Note that during this event the prices will increase as well, but the festival is undoubtedly an event worth seeing.

KURAMA ONSEN (くらま温泉)
Photo courtesy of KURAMA ONSEN

The public outdoor bath is both spacious and scenic, making KURAMA ONSEN one of the best places to experience the nature that Kyoto has to offer. You will also be able to enjoy traditional Japanese food made with local ingredients.

KURAMA ONSEN is temporarily closed as of now (September 2022), but as travelers start to enter Japan again we are hopeful that they will reopen their doors soon; we hope that you will give them a visit when the time comes.

Information

  • Price: Starting at around 15,000 JPY per person
  • Address: 520 Kuramahonmachi, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 601-1111 (Google MAP)
  • Tattoo Friendly: Yes for internationals, Japanese people with tattoos not allowed
  • Visit Official Site

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Ohara Sanso (大原山荘)

Ohara Sanso (大原山荘)
Photo courtesy of Ohara Sanso

Ohara Sanso is what is referred to as a “minshuku,” which is a local, smaller-scale inn. They are usually run by families and are much less formal than a ryokan. This may give you the impression of a hostel or a bed and breakfast, but the rooms at Ohara Sanso are all very modern and clean.

There are both indoor and outdoor baths, all filled with natural hot spring water. The water is easy on the skin and will help with nerve pain and blood circulation. If you want more privacy, there is also an indoor bath that is available to rent for 2,000 JPY an hour.

For those looking for a place to relax in the afternoon on the weekends, Ohara Sanso has a café where you can enjoy a drink while dipping in an “ashiyu,” an onsen meant for only your feet.

Ohara Sanso (大原山荘)
Photo courtesy of Ohara Sanso

Ohara Sanso also offers a pottery painting experience where you can paint your own piece and take it home with you. These pieces are called “rakuyaki,” a specific type of Japanese pottery which is hand-shaped and fired at lower temperatures.

The pottery shop is currently closed as of September 2022, but this is certainly something to check out when it is available again. The experience is very affordable, costing between 1,100 and 2,800 JPY depending on what kind of pottery you choose.

Information

  • Price: Starting at around 11,000 JPY per person
  • Address: 17 Oharakusaocho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 601-1248 (Google MAP)
  • Tattoo Friendly: Small tattoos OK, those with visible tattoos should use the private onsen
  • Visit Official Site

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Minshuku Oohara-no-sato (大原温泉 大原の里)

Minshuku OOHARA NO SATO (大原温泉 大原の里)
Photo courtesy of Minshuku Oohara-no-sato

Minshuku Oohara-no-sato is another lodge that features an at-home atmosphere and cheaper prices than your average ryokan. It is located about an hour by bus from Kyoto station, making it a good getaway location from the city.

When staying here, you can expect to have an authentic Japanese cultural experience. In the winter the rooms are equipped with a heated table (called a “kotatsu”) and you can expect to be sleeping on the tatami floors in a futon. The outdoor bath is large (fitting up to four people) and is surrounded by the inn’s beautiful garden.

Minshuku OOHARA NO SATO (大原温泉 大原の里)
Photo courtesy of Minshuku Oohara-no-sato

The sister store of Oohara-no-sato is a miso shop that has been making homemade miso for over 100 years. With hot pot being one of the local dishes of Oohara, it just makes sense to serve miso hot pot. Minshuku Oohara-no-sato does not serve the traditional Japanese course meal but instead has a variety of hot pots to choose from.

Minshuku Oohara-no-sato is accommodating to all kinds of guests, so we recommend this lodge for anyone’s first stay at a Japanese-style inn. They are aware of religious restrictions so there are cases where you can wear a swimsuit in the bath and there are also vegetarian options for food.

Information

  • Price: Starting at around 15,500 JPY per person
  • Address: 41 Oharakusaocho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 601-1248 (Google MAP)
  • Tattoo Friendly: OK if covered
  • Visit Official Site

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dormy inn PREMIUM Kyoto Ekimae (ドーミーイン PREMIUM 京都駅前)

dormy inn PREMIUM Kyoto Ekimae (ドーミーイン PREMIUM 京都駅前)
Photo courtesy of dormy inn PREMIUM Kyoto Ekimae

dormy inn PREMIUM Kyoto Ekimae has the best location for anyone who wants to stay directly outside of Kyoto Station. You will have some of the best access to Kyoto’s most popular tourist spots.

This lodge belongs to a chain of hotels all around Japan that are well-used by many travelers to the country due to their good locations and reasonable prices. Be sure to take advantage of the food, as they serve free noodles at night.

dormy inn PREMIUM Kyoto Ekimae (ドーミーイン PREMIUM 京都駅前)
Photo courtesy of dormy inn PREMIUM Kyoto Ekimae

You might not expect to find a hot spring in the middle of the city, but dormy inn PREMIUM Kyoto Ekimae has a large public bath on the 9th floor with natural onsen water. The bath is open starting at 3:00 pm and stays open until the next morning so you can even enjoy a late-night bath.

Because dormy inn is a hotel and not a ryokan, you will not be looking to stay in a guest suite with a whole lot of Japanese culture or tradition. We recommend dormy inn for those who are traveling on a budget but still want to experience a natural onsen.

Information

  • Price: Starting at around 6,000 JPY per person
  • Address: 558-8 Higashishiokojicho, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, 600-8216 (Google MAP)
  • Tattoo Friendly: No
  • Visit Official Site

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Tattoo-friendly, private onsen

It is known to many that Japan is not very accepting of tattoos for cultural and historical reasons.

However, various establishments are becoming more welcoming to those with tattoos. Below are a few that you can find in Kyoto.

Sumiya Kiho-an (湯の花温泉 すみや亀峰菴)

Sumiya Kiho-an (湯の花温泉 すみや亀峰菴)
Photo courtesy of Sumiya Kiho-an

Sumiya Kiho-an is a ryokan located on the east side of Kyoto deep in the mountains. It is an hour’s drive from both Kobe and Osaka as well, making it a good location for people living in the neighboring prefectures of Kyoto.

Sumiya Kiho-an is a luxury ryokan, which means its rooms, baths, and service are all up to par with the price. The most expensive suites have a private outdoor onsen attached.

The public bath is huge with both an indoor and outdoor area; the outdoor bath is surrounded by nature and looks very pretty on a sunny day. There is also a spa with various options for treatments that might just be the cherry on top to a relaxing onsen experience.

Sumiya Kiho-an (湯の花温泉 すみや亀峰菴)
Photo courtesy of Sumiya Kiho-an

This ryokan happens to provide the most Australian wine out of any other ryokan in Japan. Known for going well with food, we recommend that any wine lovers have a glass or two while enjoying the high-quality seasonal Japanese food that Sumiya Kiho-an has to offer.

Information

  • Price: Starting at around 50,000 JPY per person
  • Address: Miyanooku 25, Hiedanocho, Kakihana, Kameoka, Kyoto 621-0036 (Google MAP)
  • Tattoo Friendly: Private bath OK
  • Visit Official Site

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Hanaikada (嵐山温泉 彩四季の宿 花筏)

Hanaikada (嵐山温泉 彩四季の宿 花筏)
Photo courtesy of Hanaikada

Hanaikada is a ryokan located close to Arashiyama, one of Kyoto’s most famous tourist spots. The lodge emphasizes hospitality, hoping to give guests a taste of the beauty of Kyoto through all five senses.

The public onsen is located on the top floor of the building, giving you a great view of the neighboring river and the surrounding forests. You can choose to rent a room with a private onsen as well.

Hanaikada (嵐山温泉 彩四季の宿 花筏)
Photo courtesy of Hanaikada

The food at Hanaikada is made with ingredients taken daily from a market in central Kyoto. The staff are flexible, and the menu changes occasionally according to the requests of the regulars to the ryokan. Unlike other ryokan that only serve one specific course of traditional Japanese food twice a day, you can find a lunch menu and multiple options for dinner.

Hanaikada also puts lots of effort into its guests’ special celebrations with a different menu, flowers, and original drinks. If you are celebrating a birthday or a special occasion, be sure to tell the hotel staff in advance.

Information

  • Price: Starting at around 38,000 JPY per person
  • Address: 57 Arashiyama Nakaoshitacho, Nishikyo Ward, Kyoto, 616-0004 (Google MAP)
  • Tattoo Friendly: Yes
  • Visit Official Site

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Syoenso Hozugawatei (松園荘 保津川亭)

Syoenso Hozugawatei (松園荘 保津川亭)
Photo courtesy of Syoenso Hozugawatei

Syoenso Hozugawatei is a ryokan where you can experience the beautiful seasonal weather of Kyoto. It is located about a 30-minute drive from Kyoto Station and you can get there in around the same time using the train as well.

There are eight types of rooms that you can choose from, with three types having a private onsen. Depending on what you are looking for, reserving one of these nicer rooms may be better than renting the private onsen in the public bathing area, which is a bit pricey (5,000 JPY for 50 minutes). This way you can have the freedom to use the bath at whatever time and for however long you want.

Syoenso Hozugawatei (松園荘 保津川亭)
Photo courtesy of Syoenso Hozugawatei

The public bath features many different types of baths including a jacuzzi and even a manmade waterfall. The “ashiyu,” an onsen for your feet, is designed to look like a traditional Japanese stage where dance is performed.

Information

  • Price: Starting at around 17,000 JPY per person
  • Address: Yunohana Onsen, Kameoka, Kyoto, 621-0034 (Google MAP)
  • Tattoo Friendly: Private bath OK
  • Visit Official Site

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Rurinohama (天然温泉&プライベート SPA瑠璃浜)

Rurinohama (天然温泉&プライベート SPA瑠璃浜)
Photo courtesy of Rurinohama

Rurinohama is a hotel that could be considered more like a group of villas by the sea. Those who have not seen the oceans of Kyoto may be interested in staying at this hotel to do it in a high-quality hotel such as this one.

All the rooms at Rurinohama are small separate buildings, all equipped with a private onsen as well as a pool. The bath is spacious (1.3 meters on each side) and the onsen water is filtered so that it is always fresh.

Rurinohama (天然温泉&プライベート SPA瑠璃浜)
Photo courtesy of Rurinohama

Rurinohama offers barbeque plans for those who want to cook in their rooms. You can borrow a grill and all the other things you will need to cook and the hotel will provide you with the meats and vegetables. If you want to eat at a restaurant, there are options for Japanese food and Italian food as well.

Fireworks are a symbol of summer in Japan, and Rurinohama even allows small-scale fireworks. You can borrow buckets, lighters, and garbage bags from the hotel if you need them. After a barbeque, ending the day lighting fireworks with friends and family is a perfect way to end the night.

Information

  • Price: Starting at around 50,000 JPY per person
  • Address: 3100-8 Hioki, Miyazu, Kyoto 626-0225 (Google MAP)
  • Tattoo Friendly: Yes
  • Visit Official Site

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Onsen town around Kyoto

Although there are many options for onsen in Kyoto, there are also amazing onsen towns to explore if you venture a just bit outside the prefecture.

Below is an introduction to some of the best onsen towns around Kyoto.

Arima Onsen (有馬温泉)

Arima Onsen (有馬温泉)

Arima Onsen is located in Hyogo Prefecture, about an hour’s drive from Kyoto Station. If you are taking trains, you can take the bullet train part way or just go by local trains.

There are many onsen in Japan that feature “gold” waters, all of them having large amounts of iron giving them an orange-ish color. Arima Onsen’s golden onsen contains lots of salt, said to be even greater than the ocean.

Arima also has thousands of years of history, and is known as one of the “three great onsen” of Japan. The others include Kusatsu Onsen in Gunma Prefecture and Gero Onsen in Gifu Prefecture.

If visiting Arima Onsen, you can expect to take in retro townscapes, great mountain views, and historical buildlings. There are shopping districts that are perfect for buying small foods and walking around while eating; definitely try out the local pastry shops if you have the chance.

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Kinosaki Onsen (城崎温泉)

Kinosaki Onsen (城崎温泉)
Photo courtesy of Kinosaki Onsen Tourism Association

An onsen town located in the northern region of Hyogo Prefecture, Kinosaki Onsen is the perfect place to visit for those who really want to get a taste of hot spring culture in Japan.

Kinosaki Onsen is known for its “7 sotoyu,” which are a series of public baths that are all in walking distance from each other in the town. They are all different in their designs and most are connected to some sort of old Japanese legend.

Many ryokan in the area will have package tickets that will let you try them all out for free; otherwise, tickets are very inexpensive.

Aside from the baths, you can enjoy the onsen town by stopping at the local cafes or riding a cable car up to the top of the nearest montain.

Kinosaki Onsen a fairly convenient trip from Kyoto, at about a two and a half hour train ride. This is a great location to go for a quick weekend trip from the city.

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Shirahama Onsen (白浜温泉)

Shirahama Onsen (白浜温泉)
Photo courtesy of Nanki Shirahama Tourism Association

Shirahama Onsen is a great getaway for those who are staying in the Kansai area of Japan. The beaches are beautiful at Shirahama and you can even go diving or take a long bike ride around the ocean.

Many of the ryokan and hotels in this area are situated around the beach; it would be a great experience to stay at a hotel with an ocean view from an outdoor bath.

Shirahama puts lots of effort into their tourism, with beachside events and amusement parks. However, do not let this modern appearance fool you; Shirahama Onsen is in fact one of the three oldest onsen in Japan with the most history. You can see this by visiting the nearby shrines and old shops.

Shirahama Onsen is the furthest away from Kyoto on our list at about a three hour train ride. It is also surprisingly easy to get to from Tokyo, as Shirahama has an airport that you can fly to directly from the city.

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MAP

Below is a map that includes all the locations brought up in this article.

Conclusion

What did you think?

In this article we covered the many different types of establishments where you can experience a natural onsen in Kyoto.

Whether you are just heading to Kyoto for a day trip or are looking for a real getaway, we hope that there was something on this list to fit your needs.

Kyoto is a beautiful place and we hope you have fun exploring!

Have you booked your SIM card or pocket WiFi for your trip to Japan yet?

In Japan, you’ll want to be connected without missing out on high speed data and internet!

By reserving online before departing, you can

  • Lower your rental fees
  • Avoid stock shortages at the airport

To learn more about data and WiFi options for your trip, check out our products below.

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