The Milky White Hot Waters of Shirahone Onsen’s Awa No Yu in Nagano Prefecture

The Milky White Hot Waters of Shirahone Onsen’s Awa No Yu in Nagano Prefecture
Onsen Sommelier Gucchi
Onsen Sommelier Gucchi 
| 4 min read

From long ago it is said that if you bathe in the magical waters of Shirahone Onsen for 3 days you will not catch a cold for 3 years.

The most popular amongst the hot springs there is Awa no Yu the coed outdoor bath featured here.

The mood and the water are the best in the business!

This is definitely one that should be on your list of onsens to visit.

This time was the second time I visited this place.

I was reminded of how spectacular this place was.

The main building really tells of its long history

the milky white hot waters of shirahone onsen’s awa no yu in nagano prefecture | the main building really tells of its long history

Awa no Yu’s wooden building stands secretly in front of the bus station with its rustic flavor.

This is indeed the famous Awa no Yu.

The mood from the building’s exterior exudes authenticity with its historic feel.

The pictured building here is only for staying guests.

There is an entrance for visitor bathers further below the parking lot in the right side of the image.

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This is the visitor entrance!

the milky white hot waters of shirahone onsen’s awa no yu in nagano prefecture | this is the visitor entrance!

This is the entrance for people here for visitor baths.

It’s almost a backdoor to the concrete reinforced building.

Honestly they could have built this entrance with a bit more décor in my opinion, but, I guess if you can accept it as the builders putting all their effort into making the best bath house they could then all is forgiven I suppose.

This time I visited in the summer on a weekday, for the visitor bath opening time right at 10:30am but there were already people waiting!

It just goes to show the popularity of this hot spring.

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The super popular coed outdoor bath!

the milky white hot waters of shirahone onsen’s awa no yu in nagano prefecture | the super popular coed outdoor bath!

This is the famous coed outdoor bath of Awa no Yu!

Because of its opacity women can feel at ease.

Also, they allow you to bath with a towel on so for female visiting bathers if you use a large thick towel or an onsen bathing suit you won’t feel uneasy.

As you can see pictured above, hot water pours down wooden sluices in a commotion.

The water is naturally only 36.9 degrees but is heated to a around 40 to make it warm enough to really feel like a bath.

The water is actually heated with a heat exchanger. Making it better as we onsen lovers know.

This is a really great system, which doesn’t allow the water to deteriorate in its quality much when heating.

These heat exchanger machines are quite expensive, and you can feel the understanding of onsens and the want of the owner to provide the best experience.

I am really thankful for this.

As you can see the water is close to its natural milky white beauty as possible.

The water is also fairly soft with the perfect amount of sulfur scent.

The surrounding nature and mood really is easy on the eyes and heart as well.

This really is the epitome of Japan’s outdoor baths.

I understand why this place is famous around the nation.

*I wanted to take a picture of the whole thing but it came out like this because of the other bathers.

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There is also a small hidden outdoor bath!

the milky white hot waters of shirahone onsen’s awa no yu in nagano prefecture | there is also a small hidden outdoor bath!

Most of the articles about Awa no Yu are of the large coed outdoor bath but there is also a cozy bath as shown above. (there is one for male and female each)

This time I visited it seemed the smaller baths were more opaque in their milky whiteness.

These baths are much less crowded than the other large bath so if you want to really relax look for these.

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Actually the clear indoor bath is the best?!

It seems most people only bathe in the large coed outdoor bath because of its fame and most just pass by the indoor bath here at Awa no Yu.

In reality though…

The indoor bath’s clear onsen is the freshest as it isn’t heated artificially and is raw hot spring water!

Most onsen lovers will know this but the freshest hot spring water is usually clear and the milky white water is from water that has been exposed to air for a while. (* this is the case for most opaque onsens)

That means that this clear water is the freshest! (* at some onsens with opaque water the clear water is sometimes just normal water boiled, so please check with the onsen)

Though onsen types really differ by each person’s taste in what makes a good onsen or not, I implore you to try this ultra-fresh clear hot spring water at least once.

Don’t forget most people don’t bathe here so this water is really untouched for the most part.

This water isn’t heated and no water is added. The source water is on the tepid side so you can really bathe here for a long time.

You can only fully appreciate Awa no Yu fully if you bathe in both the milky white and this clear onsen.

Awa no Yu is one of my best recommendation onsens.

If you haven’t visited yet it is definitely worth making time for and planning a trip to here.

[Name] Awa no Yu [Address] 390-1515 Azumi 4181, Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefecture [Tel] 0263-93-2101 [Visitor bath hours] 10:30am to 2pm [Closed] Thursdays but open if holiday [Price] 1000 JPY (children 500 JPY)

[Onsen type] calcium sulfide, hydrogen carbonate spring (hydrogen sulfide type) [Water use] straight from spring (no added water, one with added heat and no antibiotics.) [pH] 6.3 (neutral) [Temp] 37.3℃

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
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