Road trip: An onsen tour of Northern Tōhoku

We just got back from a trip to Japan where we spent 10 days on a road trip along the fabulous onsen in the north of Japan. It is probably a good thing that most tourists have split Japan into a just a handful of areas where you are supposed to go for certain activities, and ignore better locations elsewhere: For example, most tourists are convinced that for a temple stay you go to Koyasan, for the countryside you visit Takayama and for an onsen you visit Hakone or Yufuin. If things were only this simple… 🙂
Although I would like to see more people get more out of their trip to Japan, frankly I’m also glad that they spend their time between Shinjuku and Kyōto and don’t bother taking a shinkansen north. I guess I’m selfish that way

We rented a car to get to these places. After a certain number of visits to Japan, you realise that a JR Japan Rail Pass, a great bargain, only gets you to a limited number of locations and at that time you book a rental car and explore the areas only served by the occasional train or bus service and beyond and start to enjoy a lot more of Japan.

These are the places in Iwate, Aomori and Akita that we visited and we stayed at most of these ryokan. Very recommended!

  • Fujisan ryokan (鉛温泉 藤三旅館) in Hanamaki.
  • Maruhon ryokan (まるほん旅館) in Shimofuro
  • Kuwahata onsen (桑畑温泉 湯ん湯ん) in Ikokuma
  • Yachi Onsen (谷地温泉) in Hōryō, Towada-shi
  • Tsuta Onsen (蔦温泉) in Towada-shi
  • Sukayu Onsen (酸ヶ湯温泉)
  • Iiduka Ryokan (飯塚旅館) in Kuroishi-shi
  • Kojima Ryokan (嶽温泉 小島旅館) in Dake onsen
  • Koganezakifurofushi Hot Spring (黄金崎不老ふ死温泉) in Fukaura-machi
  • Or Oga Sakurajima Resort HOTEL Kirara (男鹿桜島リゾートHOTELきららか) in Oga-shi

Look forward to more detailed descriptions of all of these in a few weeks. I do have to point out that onsen in northern Japan are hot! Scaldingly hot! That’s how the locals like it. 🙂