It’s widely touted Japan has – or at least had – over 500 ski resorts at one point in time. However, this number is dwarfed by what is an equally enticing reason to visit the country, that being, the number of Onsens. While an exact number is just as hard to find as the number of ski resorts in operation, there are reportedly over 30,000 naturally occurring hot springs throughout the volcanic island and up to 3,000 designated Onsens.
Almost scalding, mineral rich, geothermal water not only cures the bumps and bruises resulting from a day on the slopes, some go so far as to say they, “cure every illness but lovesickness.” While we haven’t exactly proven the latter, we reckon they’re not far off and have gone to the trouble of listing our top 10 picks in Niseko – with more Onsen offerings at other top resorts to come! Dive in (figuratively) below.
Yugokoro-tei aka Niseko Annupuri Onsen is a short 10-minute drive from Hirafu and is one of the area’s most enjoyable Onsen experiences. However, it’s not to be taken lightly and is very much on the hot side of this list, since the hot spring mineral water leaves its source from the southern foot of Mt Annupuri, at a scorching 56.4 degrees Celsius.
The Niseko Grand Hotel makes this list on account of it being the only mixed public Onsen in Niseko. For this reason, it tends to be one of the busier Onsens around.
The Onsen at the Hilton Hotel offers arguably the best bathing views around with a panoramic view of Mt Yotei and the enclosing forests. It also happens to be one of the most accessible Onsens around, almost to the point of being ski-in-ski-out. The indoor baths are again on the hotter side of the scale and there’s a rotenburo (open-air bath) overlooking a koi pond to keep you entertained.
Down the road from the Hilton Hotel Onsen is Green Leaf’s equally aesthetic offering. It doesn’t come with views of Mt Yotei but is a slightly more organic experience, nestled amongst snowy pine trees and rock pools. For a large hotel Onsen, it is quintessentially Japanese. The water source is 100% natural and comes from deep underground at 53.2 degrees Celsius before being cooled to just over 40 degrees prior to entering the Onsen.
The Green Leaf also offers an outdoor thermal pool with temperatures in the realm of 30 to 36 degrees, or enough to warm you up after dashing across the snow to get there.
Kanronomori Onsen makes this list on account of it being one of the only Onsens in the area that you can book privately – making it especially great for families. Tucked away just outside of Annupuri resort, the Onsens are found within a traditional hotel and involve 2 large segregated public baths as well as the 2 private Onsens that can be booked for 50-minutes at a time. The male and female sides of the public baths are also switched daily so you get to experience the Onsen from all aspects.
Ki Niseko opened in 2014 and comes with two public and two private Onsens. It’s perhaps the most modern on the list with crisp stone baths and amenities in line with the hotel’s aesthetic.
The Vale Onsen is certainly the most bespoke on the list, far removed from most of the more rustic, traditional Onsens otherwise listed here – and that we personally tend to prefer. The Onsen was designed by famous Onsen designer Suzuki San and draws its waters from 700m below ground, after they flow for allegedly 160 years from the top of Mount Yotei.
Keep Makkari Onsen in mind if you’re ever driving back to Niseko after a day riding at nearby Rusutsu, or having been touring the likes of Mt Yotei or Mt Shiribetsu. Being removed from the Niseko hustle and bustle means it’s more traditionally priced, coming in just ¥500. However, the views offered here would have you happily paying far more.
Koranoyu Onsen is located in Niseko Town (not to be confused with Niseko village or Hirafu). It’s just a 1-minute walk from the JR Niseko Station but most easily accessed via a vehicle – train travel around Niseko is not recommended in Winter…
For this reason, Koranoyu is very much a locals Onsen, with the price to match at just ¥500. They play the local Niseko Town radio through the speakers and you’re unlikely to run into many/any other tourists so act extra respectfully.
Goshiki Onsen is the most traditional Onsen experience you can have in Niseko. It’s by no means easy to get to, requiring about 30-minutes in a car from Hirafu and for this reason it was once selected as one of the top 10 secret Onsens in Japan by TV Tokyo.
The Onsen is basically an ancient bathhouse, constructed entirely of wood, hidden high up on the backroads that snake around behind Mount Annupuri at 750metres elevation. You’ll know you’re close when you smell the powerful fumes of sulphur, scents which admittedly linger on your skin long after you’re done bathing in the milky, turquoise pools.
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The name ‘goshiki’ translates to ‘five colours’ and reflects the water source having five different origins and colours. Of all the Onsens in Niseko, this one is possibly closest to the source and visible minerals and sediment may just cure lovesickness…
While this list represents 10 of our favourites, it’s certainly not comprehensive – nor have we necessarily disclosed all of the hidden gems. Notwithstanding, some other notable mentions can be made to:
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