13 Best Onsen Towns in Kyushu | Enjoy Southern Japan’s Best Onsen Spots

13 Best Onsen Towns in Kyushu | Enjoy Southern Japan’s Best Onsen Spots

The southernmost island of Japan (excluding Okinawa), or the “Kyushu” region, is home to some of the most well-known onsen in the country.

Many of them have a rich history along with beautiful nature spots that can be visited nearby.

In this article, we will be introducing some of the onsen towns that you can find throughout Kyushu.

We hope that it comes in handy during your travels.

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Our global editorial team living in Japan will introduce the charms of the country based on what we have actually experienced and felt.

Table of Contents

  1. Kurokawa Onsen (Kumamoto)
  2. Beppu Onsen (Oita)
  3. Ureshino Onsen (Saga)
  4. Kirishima Onsen (Kagoshima)
  5. Hirayama Onsen (Kumamoto)
  6. Unzen Onsen (Nagasaki)
  7. Obama Onsen (Nagasaki)
  8. Takeo Onsen (Saga)
  9. Harazuru Onsen (Fukuoka)
  10. Ibusuki Onsen (Kagoshima)
  11. Tsuetate Onsen (Kumamoto)
  12. Yamaga Onsen (Kumamoto)
  13. Yufuin Onsen (Oita)
  14. Conclusion

Kurokawa Onsen (黒川温泉)

Kurokawa Onsen (黒川温泉)
Photo courtesy of Iyashi no Sato Kiyashiki

Kurokawa Onsen is one of the best spots for those looking for a forest getaway while enjoying all that a hot spring has to offer. It is located quite far away from the inner-city area of Kumamoto Prefecture.

A unique aspect of Kurokawa onsen is that in many cases, you are encouraged to go and try out the baths of other accommodations. If your plan does not include access to other ryokans’ baths, you can purchase what is called an “onsen tegata” for 1,300 JPY a piece, which allows you to choose three baths to try out. You can also use it for food or souvenirs instead of the bath.

Kurokawa Onsen (黒川温泉)
Photo courtesy of Kurokawaonsen Ryokan Kumiai

Kurosawa Onsen holds a yearly event from the winter until the late spring called “Yu-akari.” During this time period, you can find bamboo lanterns used as decoration all over town. At night, the lanterns light up and are a beautiful sight.

Places to stay at Kurokawa Onsen

Ikoi Ryokan (いこい旅館)

Kurokawa Onsen’s go-to ryokan. You can try out a grand total of 13 different baths in the public bathing area (which is also available for day trips).

Iyashi no Sato Kiyashiki (いやしの里 樹やしき)
A Japanese-style ryokan with a great view of the town. You can enjoy the view from the outdoor baths.

Ryokan Sanga (旅館 山河)
Enjoy a Japanese-style ryokan in a very quiet and peaceful location. There are many options for baths including a private onsen and a mixed-gender bath.

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Beppu Onsen (別府温泉郷)

Beppu Onsen (別府温泉郷)
Photo courtesy of Suginoi Hotel

Beppu Onsen produces the largest amount of onsen water in all of Japan, which is fitting for Oita, often referred to as the “onsen prefecture.” It is actually a collection of eight different hot spring areas.

Beppu Onsen (別府温泉郷)
Photo courtesy of Hotel Sansuikan

“The Hells of Beppu,” or “Beppu Jigoku,” is a series of unique hot springs you can visit while in the area; you will find geysers, bright blue or orange hot springs, and even some hot springs with tropical animals.

Due to the nature of these hot springs, visitors are not allowed inside them but instead are invited to observe the strange characteristics of each. Some of them, however, do have foot baths that you can use while you are touring the different “hells.”

Although Beppu is what would be considered the countryside, there is a large population of international residents, which makes entertainment and places for food and drink very accessible when going into the city.

Places to stay at Beppu Onsen

Suginoi Hotel (別府温泉 杉乃井ホテル)

One of Beppu Onsen’s most popular hotels. The rooftop outdoor bath is beautiful and gives a great view of the city.

Hotel Sansuikan (ホテル山水館)
A hotel with an extensive public bathing area. Some guest suites have a private onsen attached.

Hotel Shiragiku (ホテル白菊)
A ryokan with easy access to trains and sightseeing spots within Beppu. Enjoy all sorts of baths, as well as all kinds of foods at this lodge.

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Ureshino Onsen (嬉野温泉)

Ureshino Onsen (嬉野温泉)
Photo courtesy of Taishoya

Ureshino Onsen is an onsen town that runs along the Ureshino River, located in the southwestern part of Saga Prefecture. Save for September and October, if you time your visit right, you can enjoy an event or festival in the area.

There are a few food and drinks that you may want to try while you are in Ureshino. One is “Yudoufu,” which is tofu that is made using hot spring water. Another is tea, which has been historically harvested in the area; the tea has such as good reputation that you can find ryokan that use it in the bath.

Ureshino Onsen (嬉野温泉)
Photo courtesy of Yoshidaya

If you are staying at Ureshino Onsen and are looking for something to do, we recommend going to Ashiyu Chronicle Terrace, which operates as a bar, cafe, and restaurant. It features a foot bath that you can use while you enjoy your food and drink. There are many options ranging from full meals to seasonal cocktails.

Places to stay at Ureshino Onsen

Yoshidaya (旅館吉田屋)

A luxury ryokan with indoor, outdoor, and multiple rentable baths. Known for its high-quality meals and stylish Japanese-modern guest suites.

Taishoya (嬉野観光ホテル大正屋)
A ryokan that has been in operation for nearly 100 years. There are multiple branches of this hotel and guests are allowed to use the baths at any of the other locations.

  • Price: Starting from 9,900 JPY per person/night
  • Address: Otsu-2276-1 Ureshinomachi Oaza Shimojuku, Ureshino, Saga 843-0301 (Google MAP)
  • Visit official website

Chagokoro no Yado Warakuen (茶心の宿和楽園)
A ryokan for tea lovers. You can drink tea, eat meals from a tea-incorporated menu, and even bathe in a bath infused with tea extract.

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Kirishima Onsen (霧島温泉)

Kirishima Onsen (霧島温泉)
Photo courtesy of La Vista Kirishima Hills

Kirishima Onsen is located fairly close to the coast of Kagoshima Prefecture. There are a variety of ways to get there including buses and trains, but a car will give you the best access to the sightseeing spots that are a bit further out.

Kirishima Onsen (霧島温泉)
Photo courtesy of La Vista Kirishima Hills

Nature is undoubtedly the selling point of Kirishima, with sprawling fields and mountains. Just spending time relaxing in one of the large parks is a great way to spend an afternoon. There is a cliffside waterfall that can be visited and seen from an observation deck called Inukai Falls. If you want to enjoy the scenery more, you might consider going on a horseback ride as well.

Another popular activity in Kirishima is fruit picking, which can be done at Sakura Farms. You can pick grapes and apples (this farm is the southernmost location in Japan to do so) and also try some of the homemade juices and sherberts.

Places to stay at Kirishima Onsen

La Vista Kirishima Hills (ラビスタ霧島ヒルズ)

A luxury resort that also allows pets. Additional to the public bathing area and rentable onsen, all rooms have baths that use natural onsen water (outdoor baths in some cases).

Ama-teras (天テラス)
A hotel that offers rooms with private onsen and a total of eight rentable baths. Children are not allowed, so this hotel is used primarily for occasions such as wedding anniversaries.

Hotel Kyocera (ホテル京セラ)
An affordable hotel that offers many options (including a buffet) for food. Enjoy an onsen, an indoor pool, a gym, and even O2 chambers.

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Hirayama Onsen (平山温泉)

Hirayama Onsen (平山温泉)
Photo courtesy of Hirayama Onsen Tourism Association

Hirayama Onsen is located in the northern part of Kumamoto Prefecture and is said to have a history of about 1,300 years.

Many of the ryokan in town are available for day trips, so you can visit multiple baths if you are excited to try out lots of onsen. We recommend a place called Taichi, which allows people who are not staying the night to use the bath for a low price of 500 JPY. You can also get a reservation for a plan that includes lunch.

Hirayama Onsen (平山温泉)
Photo courtesy of Hirayama Onsen Tourism Association

Because there are many outdoor activities to enjoy in the Hirayama Onsen area, we recommend you visit when the weather is nice. The area is known for fireflies, and visiting during the summer and seeing the bugs flying through the fields is a great experience that is hard to find anywhere else. You can also find a famous firefly festival in one of the neighboring cities.

Places to stay at Hirayama Onsen

Hirayama Onsen Yamato (平山温泉 やまと旅館)

A luxury ryokan that offers full-building lodging for guests, all with natural private onsen. The homemade tofu is very popular.

Ichiboku-issou (山懐の宿 一木一草)
An old ryokan renovated that still retains a traditional feel. Seven out of eight rooms have a private onsen included.

Hotaru no Nagaya (ほたるの長屋)
A high-quality ryokan that offers only five large full-building suites, all with private onsen. Great for groups or couples celebrating anniversaries.

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Unzen Onsen (雲仙温泉)

Unzen Onsen (雲仙温泉)
Photo courtesy of Unzen Shinyu Hotel

Unzen Onsen is an onsen town in Nagasaki Prefecture that is surrounded by steaming geysers, giving it the name “Unzen Hell.” Walking through the steamy town is fun to do year-round, but is especially entertaining in the fall and winter months. You can even go on a night tour which makes the experience even better.

With a historical western influence, Unzen Onsen retains the western-style townscapes compared to other traditional Japanese locations. However, there are still many local restaurants and shops that sell traditional dishes at low prices, so we recommend that you stop by.

Unzen Onsen (雲仙温泉)
Photo courtesy of Unzen Shinyu Hotel

If you are looking for a place to stop and grab a snack, we recommend visiting Kaseya Cafe, which sells fried bread called the “Unzen bomb” that has a whole onsen egg (an egg cooked with onsen water) inside. There is a foot bath outside, so it is a perfect place to take a break.

Places to stay at Unzen Onsen

Unzen Shinyu Hotel (ゆやど雲仙新湯)

A ryokan that has many options for guest rooms, some including private onsen. The public bathing area draws water from four different springs.

Azumaen (東園)
One of the most popular ryokan in Unzen. All rooms have a great view of the lake and some come with a private onsen.

Yukai Resort Unzen Toyokan (湯快リゾート 雲仙東洋館)
An affordable ryokan that still feels very high-quality and traditional. Food is served buffet-style and the food served changes depending on the season.

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Obama Onsen (小浜温泉)

Obama Onsen (小浜温泉)
Photo courtesy of Orange Bay

Obama Onsen is an onsen town by the sea in Nagasaki Prefecture. By riding a bus you can get to the area from Nagasaki Airport in about an hour and a half. From there, the onsen town is not very large so if you are not planning on venturing outside, you should be able to explore it on foot.

Obama Onsen is famous for “Obama Champon,” a type of noodle dish in which there are lots of ingredients mixed in; Obama Champon features fresh seafood and a light soup, but the other ingredients are completely dependent on the individual menu of the shop. Definitely consider going to multiple restaurants that serve Champon because they are all different.

Obama Onsen (小浜温泉)
Photo courtesy of Ryokan Yamadaya

Obama Onsen is also home to the longest foot bath in Japan. It is located near the ocean with a great view, which is a must-visit. Hanging out at the foot bath as the sun sets would be an ideal end to a day of traveling.

Places to stay at Obama Onsen

Ryokan Yamadaya (旅館山田屋)

A high-quality ryokan with an ocean view from the outdoor bath on the top floor. Known for its seafood, especially dishes that use flounder.

Yuyado Jyo-kiya (湯宿 蒸気家)
A cheap ryokan popular for the fact that you can experience making your own food. There is a rentable onsen available but no outdoor baths.

Orange Bay (オレンジベイ)
A high-quality hotel where all the guest rooms come with a private onsen. Very close to the onsen town to make sightseeing easy.

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Takeo Onsen (武雄温泉)

Takeo Onsen (武雄温泉)
Photo courtesy of Hotel Shunkeiya

Takeo Onsen is located in Saga prefecture, with roots that are said to go back as far as 1,200 years. The water is good for the skin and has been used in the making of face lotion. The large gate-like structure called the “Takeo Onsen Roumon” is the symbol of the onsen town and has been classified as an important cultural property of Japan.

If you are looking for a cultural experience to try your hand at, we recommend you look into a pottery class. The making of dishes has been a tradition in the Takeo Onsen area since the 1590s, so you will be learning from the best.

Takeo Onsen (武雄温泉)
Photo courtesy of Takeo City Tourist Association

Takeo Onsen is known not only for its onsen, but also for its food. Although there are no types of food specific to the area, they take pride in the high quality of ingredients and recipes. You might want to try TKB AWARDS, a burger joint that sells all kinds of burgers cooked with local ingredients.

Places to stay at Takeo Onsen

Hotel Shunkeiya (ホテル春慶屋)

A reasonably-priced ryokan with a completely natural onsen. Guest rooms are all modern-Japanese and very spacious.

Ougiya (扇屋)
A luxury ryokan that offers high-quality guest suites (some with private onsen). The food is the selling point with an experienced chef who uses seasonal ingredients.

Yumotoso Toyokan Ryokan (湯元荘 東洋館)
A ryokan located a quick walk from Takeo Onsen Station. The public bath uses water from a spring that has been around since ancient times.

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Harazuru Onsen (原鶴温泉)

Harazuru Onsen (原鶴温泉)
Photo courtesy of Hotel Parens Onoya

Harazuru Onsen is on the border of Oita Prefecture. While winter is the prime time to dip in an onsen, the area is beautiful all year round with flowers and foliage. The area also produces lots of fruits and vegetables, which you might want to purchase at a local market.

Harazuru Onsen (原鶴温泉)
Photo courtesy of Fukuoka Prefecture Tourist Association

One of the best experiences you can get at Harazuru Onsen is from May to October when you can observe local cormorant fishing. You will be able to ride in the boats and watch the fishermen and their birds. It is especially fun to ride and enjoy the season during the sakura season or when the leaves are changing color in the fall.

The onsen water at Harazuru Onsen is said to be good for the skin and gives it a very soft texture after bathing in it. There are many ryokan in the area that offer day-trip plans (in most cases including a meal) and public bathing facilities that you can use for a low price.

Places to stay at Harazuru Onsen

Harazuru no Mai (原鶴の舞)

One of the most recently opened lodges in Harazuru Onsen. A luxury ryokan where all the guest suites have an onsen attached.

Hotel Parens Onoya (ホテルパーレンス小野屋)
A ryokan that is accommodating to guests of all ages and needs. The onsen features a beautiful open-air and a rentable bath.

Sato So (佐藤荘)
The bath at this ryokan has changing minerals depending on the season. You can bring your pet and there is an onsen just for animals.

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Ibusuki Onsen (指宿温泉)

Ibusuki Onsen (指宿温泉)
Photo courtesy of Fufurotenburonoyado Ginsyou

Ibusuki Onsen is a onsen located on the coast of Kagoshima Bay. In the 1960s, this was a popular spot for honeymoons for its warm climate and beachside location. There are many luxury ryokan and hotels in the area.

Ibusuki Onsen (指宿温泉)
Photo courtesy of Ibusuki Shusui-en

Ibusuki Onsen is most famous for “Sunamushi Onsen,” which is the experience of being buried in sand that has been warmed up using the onsen. This is a unique experience that is hard to find elsewhere, so be sure to look into it if you are in the area. The sand is very hot, so remember to be hydrated before trying it out.

If you are looking for a regular onsen, there are a few public bathing facilities available in town. One of the best choices for a day-trip onsen is a place called Healthy Land, where the outdoor bath has a stunning view of the ocean. If the weather is nice, you can see the mountains as well. Healthy Land’s bath is available for only 510 JPY per person.

Places to stay at Ibusuki Onsen

Fufurotenburonoyado Ginsyou (夫婦露天風呂の宿 吟松)

One of the most popular ryokan in the area with an outdoor rentable onsen with a view. The perfect place to stay if you are celebrating a romantic anniversary.

Yurian (悠離庵)
A beautiful ryokan that offers full-building guest suites, all with a private onsen. 13 out of the 16 guest suites also come with a private onsen-water pool.

Ibusuki Shusui-en (いぶすき秀水園)
A luxury ryokan that has been winning awards for high-quality food for 38 years in a row. The bathing area has a rentable onsen, indoor and outdoor baths, and even a sauna.

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Tsuetate Onsen (杖立温泉)

Tsuetate Onsen (杖立温泉)
Photo courtesy of Tsuetate Onsen

Tsuetate Onsen is an onsen town located in the northern area of Kumamoto Prefecture, situated along the Tsuetate River. Starting in April and going until the beginning of May, there is a koinobori (carp-shaped flags) festival in which over 3,000 koinobori hung around the town. The roots of this tradition date back to the Meiji period (1868 to 1912).

The Tsuetate Onsen town is unique, filled with twists, turns, and alleyways. Walking through the small streets between the buildings almost makes it feel as if you have traveled to a different world. Just exploring the town, trying the local foods, and going into the shops is a great way to spend a day.

Tsuetate Onsen (杖立温泉)
Photo courtesy of Hizenya Tsuetate Kanko Hotel

Tsuetate Onsen is big on steamy baths and saunas, which is said to be good for the skin. Depending on the establishment, you will be able to find “baths” specifically to spend time directly in the steam.

Places to stay at Tsuetate Onsen

Tsuetate Onsen Wakanoya Inn (杖立温泉 四季の宿 わかのや)

A traditional but comfortable Japanese-style ryokan with an indoor onsen. The sauna uses saturated steam which has good effects on the skin.

Ryokan Hakusuisou (旅館 白水荘)
A reasonably-priced ryokan with a spacious indoor onsen area. Perfect for those who want to experience the modest life of a local.

Hizenya Tsuetate Kanko Hotel (つえたて温泉ひぜんや)
One of the most popular hotels in the Tsuetate area. There is a 100% natural onsen in the public bathing area that mixes water from three different springs.

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Yamaga Onsen (山鹿温泉)

Yamaga Onsen (山鹿温泉)
Photo courtesy of Yutoriro Yamaga

Yamaga Onsen is said to have one of the richest histories in all of Kumamoto Prefecture. As such, quite a few festivals are held (mostly between December and February) such as a sake festival and a lantern festival.

There is a main road in the town that is your go-to place for sightseeing. Here you will find many restaurants, shops, and cultural experiences. If you are lost on what to do, you can take a tour of the rice-related spots. It is only 600 JPY per person, so it would be a good experience to get an in-depth look at the town.

Yamaga Onsen (山鹿温泉)
Photo courtesy of Yutoriro Yamaga

There are quite a few spots for onsen in the town even if you are not staying the night or want to try out different baths. Some of these spots have outdoor baths which are beautiful to soak in at night under the starry sky or baths that you can use as a family.

Places to stay at Yamaga Onsen

Yutoriro Yamaga (ゆとりろ山鹿)

An affordable ryokan that opened fairly recently in 2018 with an indoor and outdoor bath. There are activities to enjoy as well such as ping pong, billiards, and marshmallow roasting.

Sumi (山鹿温泉 旅館 寿三)
A ryokan that is known for its food; you can try high-quality “basashi,” or raw horse. The onsen has an indoor bath with a view of the town.

Sunpalace Matsuzaka (サンパレス松坂)
A ryokan with different meal plans to choose from. Additional to the public bathing area, there is a half-outdoor private onsen attached to each guest suite.

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Yufuin Onsen (由布院温泉)

Yufuin Onsen (由布院温泉)
Photo courtesy of Hanayoshi

Located in Oita Prefecture, Yufuin Onsen follows Beppu Onsen as the second-highest producer of hot spring water in Japan. The pH is generally very high (the highest being 9.7) and the water has a good moisturizing effect on the skin.

Yufuin has more of a western taste to the townscapes. The area is known for being both picturesque and lively but in a different way from Tokyo or Osaka without the glaring neon lights and abundant nightlife. You can visit art museums, ride horse-drawn carriages, or try different types of foods and desserts.

Yufuin Onsen (由布院温泉)
Photo courtesy of Yufuin Onsen Tourism Association

Yufuin is a great choice for those who want to explore the small-town areas of Japan. The seasons make the area beautiful year-round, with vivid greens in the spring and summer and snow in the winter. In the warmer seasons, you can enjoy a hike through the scenic mountains, and in the colder months there are many cafes to cozy up in and enjoy a hot drink or meal.

Places to stay at Yufuin Onsen

Hanayoshi (ゆふいん花由)

A luxury hotel that offers spacious guest suites with private onsen. There is a large selection of food including both meats and seafood.

SHIKIAN (山荘 四季庵)
Located further away from the Yufuin area, a ryokan that is surrounded by nature and is reminiscent of pre-modern Japan. The outdoor bath has a beautiful view of the mountain.

Yufuin Hotel Forest Terrace (湯布院 ホテル森のテラス)
A western-style red brick hotel that still maintains a nice area for Japanese-style bathing in an onsen. You can find indoor, outdoor, and rentable baths.

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Conclusion

What did you think?

In this article, we discussed some of the onsen towns that you can find throughout Kyushu.

Whether you are interested in visiting the most famous spots in Kyushu or a smaller, tucked-away area, we hope that there was something on the list that piqued your interest.

Enjoy your trip to Kyushu!

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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