Takaragawa Onsen 宝川温泉

Takaragawa Onsen
One of the biggest, most beautiful outdoor hotsprings I've ever been!

Dreamy Onsen Paradise. Extraordinary autumn colors!

Buses from Bus Stop #4 in front of Minakami Station 水上駅 head in the direction of Takaragawa Onsen 宝川温泉 roughly once every 2 hours, but only the 10:45 am & 1:35 pm stop there directly, taking 33 minutes; others you have to get off at Takaragawa Iriguchi 宝川入口 then walk 20 minutes / 800 m downhill or get the hotel shuttle. Very dramatic scenery (incredible fall colors!!) along the windy drive. Set ticket covering return bus (1050 yen one way) & day onsen (1500 yen) is 2780 yen at the info center opposite Minakami Station to the left from 9 am to 4:30 pm.

3 giant mixed gender outdoor baths along the river (50/100/200 tatami each of varying warmth) plus an extra 100 tatami one for women only are open from 9 am to 4 or 5 pm. A couple of changing rooms are next to the outdoor onsen pools - no amenities whatsoever though. No hairdryers but there are outlets. Lots of naked men walking about but women need to be covered with towels - 100 yen to rent or bring your own. The indoor baths and showers are 100 m away from the amazing outdoor ones so you must get dressed then walk down if you're having a shower first as there is no place to wash by the outdoor baths. Although it was quite a bit colder than Tokyo, the fall colors were breathtaking in early November! It was a slice of heaven that's even better than the photos online!! Definitely worth the trip! The guy at the front explained everything in Japanese & English. No photos of the onsen for obvious reasons.

Takaragawa Onsen Takaragawa Onsen hiking

The start of a 30-minute / 800 m trail to a view point is behind the changing rooms of the bath across the river (Kodakara no yu 子宝の湯) - very steep but beautiful... sensible footwear needed. We gave up halfway upon seeing some fresh bear poop so decided not to risk it. With regards to the caged bears, the signs were eager to explain that they were orphaned cubs that were rescued to make sure they don't starve to death not being able to feed if left to their own devices... although they do serve bear soup on the menu... Apparently there's another 4 km trail that takes you to a river valley but we didn't see that one. There's a restaurant by the entrance serving simple dishes. Last bus back to Minagami is at 2:52 pm or 4:59 pm from Takaragawa Iriguchi 宝川入口.