Friday, January 6, 2017

Best Japanese Hot Spring in Nature

This year's best Japanese hot spring in nature award goes to Yunohira Onsen, a hot spring hidden away in the distant reaches of remote Shibata, Niigata. Hot water drains from cliff cracks into rocky baths at the bottom of a gorge. Crystal water churns white as it plunges down the path of a winding river in front of the baths. Butterflies and birds flutter, with their own secret purposes, between the gaps of narrow, verdant cliff walls. Only hardy hikers and hot spring addicts reach this sublime location.

The first three hours of walking toward this hidden hot spring will take you along a broken, cracked one-way concrete road that runs above the river that empties into Kajikawa Dam, where you left your car. Only the vehicles of dam workers are allowed. Driving along the road would be a scary experience. In many places, a wrong turn or lapse of attention could send a car and its passengers tumbling hundreds of meters downward. Only the bases of rusted bridge railings remain on bridges that appear ready to disintegrate.

Arriving at one of Japan’s “hidden hot springs,” after trudging nearly twelve kilometers of forest trails, crossing swaying, rickety suspension bridges, and ascending steep trails, by hand and foot power, gives hot spring addicts a high greater than any legal or illegal drug. To learn more about the journey to this source of a natural state of bliss, click to read a longer article I wrote about Yunohira OnsenTo read about three other remote hot springs in Niigata, click the following links: Renge Onsen, Private Hidden Hot Spring, and Tsubame Onsen.

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