There is 1 onsen inn called Hannyaji Onsen a 5 minute drive from Okutsu Hot Spring in Okayama Prefecture. It really isn’t well known. Originally a lodging for pilgrimages and visitors for the Hannyaji Temple, in 1957 it opened its doors as an onsen retreat. Although it is an inn, you can bathe as a visitor and reserve the bath privately. Don’t forget to make prior reservations by phone before going.
A rustic single standing accommodation.
A 5 minute drive from Okutsu Onsen stands the Hannyaji Onsen. Park your car in the roofed garage on the same road. There is just enough space for 4 cars.
Then, go down the narrow steps alongside the garage. You will come to a thatched roof building like above.
It almost seems like some grandmothers house that you would see in a manga, which feels like a good old fashioned part of Japan.
Privately reserve the bath in 1 hour increments.
After paying the 1000 JPY fee for a visitor bath at the thatched roof building head to the onsen. Past the thatched roof building and one level down alongside a river is the bath house.
The small shack in the left of the image is the indoor bath. Past the fences on the right is the outdoor bath.
Those who have only been to well-ordered onsens might hesitate, but the indoor bath has an undressing room and is well managed.
Both indoor and outdoor baths are completely privately reserved by the hour. So, you can switch between the indoor and outdoor baths during that time to your hearts delight.
An indoor bath that feels totally old school
Most first time visitors will probably be astonished at this indoor bath when first seeing it. Although it’s technically indoors it isn’t like any in most hotels or inns. It is hewn straight out of rock and is really a small bath. The hot water continuously flows out of this tub onto the floor. It is truly a free flowing straight from the source onsen bath.
By the way this water flows out without the help of pumps or anything man made. *Most onsens pump up the hot spring water and this is one of those few that flow up on their own.
It is slightly warmer than body temperature at about 40 degrees, so it’s just about right and allows you to bathe for a long time.
Although the onsen type is a clear, no aroma, no taste, basic spring, it is alkaline so it has a slippery feel to the water. Although it doesn’t have a particular smell like sulfur, it does have a fresh slight onsen smell to it.
Honestly I was happy with just this indoor bath but the outdoor bath with a spectacular view awaits.
One of Japan's preeminent riverside onsen, with a view!
This is the outdoor bath with the scenic view! It is built right in between a fast flowing river and an overhanging cliff.
This bath is small too but it can fit 2 to 3 people comfortably. Big doesn’t necessarily mean better! At least this place makes you recognize that.
The last time I visited there was no fence here so it felt a bit freer. Despite that it still feels like you are one with nature here.
Also, the water is slightly cooler here than the indoor bath so it begs you to stay as long as possible.
The view while bathing in the outdoor bath
When you are actually in the bath the view looks like this. Actually there is a small waterfall just a bit upriver which you can view while bathing.
This scene surrounded by trees is just amazing. Listening to the river while bathing in some fantastic hot spring water, and being showered with the sounds of the trees there is no feeling like this elsewhere. This is what bathing in happiness truly is.
Going back and forth between indoor and outdoor the time flies quickly and you are soon at the end of the 1 hour reservation, so please be mindful of the time.
FYI when you are going to the outdoor bath from the indoor bath you have to walk a bit so I suggest ladies should keep a towel on hand to cover up.
A satisfying place for onsen lovers of all ages.
Hannya Onsen doesn’t have any real luxuries per se. But what it lacks in facilities it more than makes up for in natural beauty and a pure onsen experience.
The water is completely 100% unadulterated.
The fact that you can have this all to yourself for 1000 JPY an hour is just unbelievable.
If you have the chance, ne you should make a chance and come here at least once. I am sure you will be hooked on this place with that one time.
Just a reminder, do not forget to make reservations prior to getting here.
[Name] Hannyaji Onsen [Address] 708-0504 Okutsu Kawanishi 20-1, Kagaminocho, Tomata District, Okayama Prefecture [Tel] 0868-52-0602 [Visitor bath hours] 10:00~15:00 1000 JPY per person per hour [Guest price] please check directly
*About the onsen, [Onsen type] basic alkaline spring [Water use] straight from spring (no added water, no added heat, and no antibiotics added.) [pH] 9.1 (alkaline) [Temp] 40?