Chubu is a massive region in the middle of Japan that comprises nine prefectures. It is also home to Japan’s beloved active volcano, Mt. Fuji. With so many prefectures packed into one region, you can find yourself lost in a sea of exciting things to do. But fear not, for one must-do activity on your long list of sights and experiences to take part in a visit to a konyoku onsen, or mixed-gender hot spring.
For many centuries, the Japanese have bathed in mixed-gender facilities but it wasn’t until the end of World War II when these establishments began to disappear. Due to strict regulations and the “taboo” nature of bathing with the opposite sex brought in with the occupation forces and mores, less and less konyoku onsen were able to keep their doors open for business.
Unlike most Western countries, Japan’s bathing traditions have that has strengthened paternal and fraternal bonds for centuries. In fact, the culture of “skinship” will see parents bathing with children for several years or groups of friends going on an “onsen trip.” Bathing and relaxing together in an onsen is and has always been an important part of the Japanese way of life. Support this time-warn rituals of Japanese society while enjoying some mineral-rich hot spring time with your partner, family or friends and see if it helps warm your connections!
This location is perfect for shy onsen goers and families who want to bathe together while wearing bathing suits. Not only is there a mixed onsen, but this location also offers a swimming pool, too! The most iconic part of Amagiso is definitely the surrounding landscape. A roaring 30-meter tall waterfall cascades from between the rough terrain surrounding the bath.
- Admission: ¥2,000 day pass
- Access: 15 minutes by car from Kawazu station
- Address: 359 Nashimoto, Kawazu, Kamo, Shizuoka Prefecture
It isn’t surprising that Awanoyu’s iconic milky water is often used for Japanese tourism ads. Awanoyu is one of the more famous onsen that still brings in the crowds, even (or especially) after being open for 106 years. This hot spring is great for shy onsen goers because not only are towel coverings required, but the milky water creates an additional barrier to help over oneself.
- Admission: ¥820 day pass, ryokan option available
- Access: About an hour by car from Matsumoto city.
- Address: Shirahone onsen, Azumi, Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture
For those with expensive tastes, Fujiyoshi will satisfy your hunger for high-class food, luxurious rooms and a mixed onsen with the best views. The ryokan is situated at a high elevation, giving patrons a breathtaking view of Sagami Bay. If you want some private time with your company, Fujiyoshi also offers private baths that can hold anywhere from two to six people. All you have to do is go to the baths, flip the sign outside the door that informs others that the bath is occupied and enjoy!
- Admission: ¥1,500 day pass, ryokan option available
- Access: 13 minutes by car from Futo station
- Address: 1305-8 Futo, Ito, Shizuoka Prefecture
4. Genji no Yu
Genji no Yu, named after a nearby mountain, is a perfect destination for travelers who want to immerse themselves in the quiet mountains of Japan where there is little to no English information. There isn’t an English site for booking this location, but your hard work will pay off with a truly Japanese experience that many tourists cannot attempt. Genji no Yu also has two outdoor mixed baths, with one of them being under a large boulder that is propped up by a stone pillar! Women are required to wear bathing towels when using the onsen, making it great for shy onsen goers.
- Admission: ¥1,000 day pass, ryokan option available
- Access: 25 minutes by car from Ochii station
- Address: 4249 Jikkoku, Fujikawa, Minamikoma, Yamanashi Prefecture
5. Kurogane Onsen
Getting to Kurogane Onsen is an adventure in itself. They only way you can access this ryokan is via a 25-minute trolley ride on the Kurobe Gorge Railway from Unazuki Station to Kuronagi Station. Upon your arrival at Kuronagi station, signs will point you in the direction of the ryokan, which takes approximately 20 minutes by foot. Kurogane Onsen is far away from the busy lifestyle of modern day Japan and has even been given the nickname “the unexplored bath inn.” The outdoor bath is mixed bathing and located right next to a river. The clear, teal water shows off the beautiful stone work of the massive outdoor bath that can comfortably fit multiple families. Women are allowed to wear bathing suits or towels.
- Admission: ¥650 day pass, ryokan option available
- Access: 25 minutes by trolley from Unazuki station to Kuronagi station. From there, walk 20 minutes to ryokan by foot.
- Address: Kuronagi, Unazuko, Unazukomachi Funamiakebiotozawa, Kurobe, Toyama Prefecture
6. Lamp no Yado
Crashing waves and the cries of gulls create an inviting and tranquil mood at the isolated ryokan, Lamp no Yado. This old establishment shows off Japan’s traditional and immaculate ways of hospitality, providing guests with delicious seafood cuisines, cozy rooms and a family-friendly mixed gender baths. The hot spring is a rotenburo, or outdoor bath, that requires guests to wear bathing suits.
- Access: 25 minutes by car from Suzu city
- Address: 10-11 Suzu, Misakimachi Jike, Ishikawa Prefecture
7. Oyadani no Yu
Submerge your body in the hot waters of Oyadani no Yu while you gaze upon the rapids and waterfalls only meters away. This onsen is located in Hakusan National Park, making it a perfect stop for lovers of the outdoors. Because Oyadani no Yu is in the middle of the woods, it is free of charge and not strict about the usage of bathing suits (most of the time you are not allowed to bathe with a swimsuit).
- Admission: Free
- Access: 80 minutes by car from Hakusan City
- Address: Chugu, Hakusan, Ishikawa Prefecture
8. Taki no Yu
Large flat stones — perfect for lounging beside — jut out from the emerald waters of Taki no Yu. Once a popular destination for visitors during the Edo period, this onsen sees less traffic today, giving it a secret onsen vibe. One of the perks of this location is that the mixed outdoor bath is 17 meters wide! The other perk? Taki no Yu is a ryokan that also offers visitors a modest price for a one night stay. For less than ¥10,000, a couple can enjoy a complete ryokan experience!
- Admission: ¥500, ryokan option available
- Access: 30 minutes by car from Suzaka station
- Address: 3681-377 Okuyamada, Takayama, Kamitakai, Nagano Prefecture
9. Tsubame Onsen
Entertain your adventure-seeking soul with a trip to Tsubame Onsen. After a short 15-minute walk from the sleepy onsen town, you will find milky mineral pools hidden in the surrounding foliage. This location has two baths to enjoy, Kawara no yu and Ogon no yu, both requiring no entrance fee. Though Kawara is a mixed gender bath, Ogon has separate baths for men and women. Keep in mind that this is a very natural onsen, meaning that there are no showering or restroom facilities.
- Admission: Free! However, leaving a small donation is highly recommended
- Access: 21 minutes by bus from Sekiyama station to Tsubame Onsen
- Address: Sekiyama, Myoko, Niigata Prefecture
If you plan on visiting the historical Takayama village in Gifu, be sure to stop by Yarimikan where you can experience not one, but two different konyoku onsen! The more popular of the two baths has a large flat rock in the middle of the bath which can be used to rest your towel — or perhaps an alcoholic beverage. Yarimikan is located in a famous hot spring area at the foot of the Japanese Alps where a cluster of quiet onsen towns are accompanied by the spectacular views of the jagged mountain range.
- Admission: ¥500 day pass, ryokan option available
- Access: 66 minutes by car from Takayama
- Address: 587 Kanasaka, Okuhida Hot Spring Village, Takayama, Gifu Prefecture
After long days of adventuring through Chubu’s many historical and natural wonders, nothing sounds better than resting your tired muscles in the area’s famed mineral-rich hot spring waters for a soak with some company. There is a mixed-gender onsen for any type of wallet and personality — so don’t hesitate to try this iconic Japanese experience before it disappears forever!
Do you know of any mixed bathing onsen in Japan around the Chubu region? Let us know in the comments!