Have you ever seen a hot spring river? Omaru Onsen Inn is located 1300 meters above the sea level, 15 minutes by car up the mountain from Tochigi prefecture’s Nasu-Yumoto. This inn boasts a fantastic open-air bath made of a dammed up hot spring river which flows from the mountain behind. Here you can refresh your body and soul because you’ll feel like you’re freely playing in a river somewhere in the wild nature.
Member of Japan's association of secluded hot springs
Omaru Onsen Inn was established 200 years ago and is currently a member of Japan’s association of secluded hot springs. But contrary to other association members, this inn doesn’t have the typical countryside image. On the way to the entrance you’ll cross a small bridge and will see the rapid streams of the river below. But this isn’t really a typical river! White steam comes out of it! Yes, this is a hot spring river flowing from a hot spring source in the mountains. It’s so unusual to realize that the loud streams of that river are actually a hot spring!
The open-air bath is made of a dammed up river stream
Four different water pools are made by using stones and rocks which dam up the freely flowing hot spring stream. The uppermost is called “Yamayuri no yu”, then “Azami no yu”, “Ajisai no yu” and the last one is “Shirakaba no yu” – all 4 are named after flowers. Combined together they form the open-air bath “Kawa no yu” and the water gradually flows from the uppermost pool to the lower ones like a real river. The pools are covered with stones inside so you’ll feel like playing in a river while enjoying this hot spring.
The uppermost pool is only for women, while the other 3 are gender-mixed. There is yet another open-air bath for women, and two gender-divided indoor baths in the inn, as well as a private bath for guests.
Female visitors are happy with the fact that there are 2 open-air baths for women only, but might be disappointed that the rest are gender-mixed. However, there’s no need to worry! Wearing a bath towel is compulsory in the gender-mixed baths and you can get one from the front desk. The changing rooms are gender-divided with their own entrances. The bath towel is pretty thick and dark green, not transparent at all, so this place offers very good conditions for trying a gender-mixed bath for the first time. Enjoy this experience freely!
Explore the hot springs with an adventurous mind
The hot spring river has endless quantities of water. At some places the river is wide, at others the streams are narrow so you can depart on an adventurous walk to find the best hot water pools.
There are 4 hot spring sources and if the season allows, no cold water or heating is added in order to keep the natural temperature. But it’s still a freely flowing hot spring so some places have quite boiling water. The temperature differs from place to place along the river, therefore it’s best recommended to find your favorite spot and relax there.
The hot water is colorless, odorless and transparent. Therefore I didn’t expect any big effect from soaking in it, but I was quite wrong. After getting out, my skin was very well moisturized. In fact this water is rich in metasilicic acid which has a strong beautification effect on your skin. It moisturizes dry skin exposed to the winter wind. The effect is much stronger than those of beauty lotions that you can buy in the stores. Local people told me that even Nasu’s Imperial Villa uses this hot spring water.
This hot spring water is good for drinking
There is a spot in the inn which offers hot water for drinking. It’s said to be good for treating stomach problems so I drank a bit too. The water is fresh and odorless. But don’t drink a lot thinking that this will intensify the positive effect. Hot spring water is much stronger inside your body than through your skin, so it’s not recommended to drink more than 100 ml twice per day.
Surrounded by a snowy panorama
This inn is located 1300 meters above sea level, therefore you can see a wide panorama view from the lobby. In winter there’s lots of snow everywhere and the entire landscape resembles a white painting. Refresh your body and soul in this high-quality hot spring which will beautify your skin.
"Omaru Onsen Inn"
Address: Tochigi prefecture, Nasu-gun, Nasu-cho Yumoto 269 Telephone: 0287 76 3050 Room charge: from 16 000 JPY (weekdays), from 18 000 JPY (weekends) Day-trip hot spring: Adult 1000 JPY, child (3-year-old to elementary school student) 700 JPY Note: Day-trip visitors are only allowed during a certain time period. Please check the inn’s website for more information. Some open-air baths are closed in winter because of heavy snowfall. “Yamayuri no yu” is closed from the beginning of January to mid-April. “Azami no yu” is closed from the beginning of December to mid- April. The periods may change according to the weather conditions so please check the official website for more accurate information.