From the golden sand dunes of Tottori to the standing skeleton of the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima, the Chugoku region welcomes visitors from the four corners of the world with the beauty of nature and the cruelty of mankind. Whether you’re an outdoor adventurer or a history buff, what better way to relax after a busy day of traveling than visiting one of Japan’s rarities — a mixed gender hot spring?
Contrary to popular belief, konyoku onsen, or mixed gender hot springs, have been a part of Japanese culture for hundreds of years. It wasn’t until after World War II, when Western influences and mores pressured Japan, that the tradition started to disappear. Since then, these hot springs have been decreasing every year with strict regulations and a lack of interest from Japanese citizens. Because of this, these baths are on the brink of extinction. By paying a visit to one of these historical establishments, you can experience a forgotten Japan while supporting the continuation of an ancient tradition.
Complete your visit to the Chugoku region with a short stop — or even a whole night’s stay — at one of these relaxing konyoku onsen spots!
1. Akashiya (Tottori)
Soak in the serene, open-air garden bath of Akashiya with friends or a partner. Historic relics decorate the interior of the ryokan (traditional Japanese inn), creating a time capsule of old Japan. Though day passes are unavailable, visitors are guaranteed a more quiet and luxurious experience shared by other travelers staying in Akashiya.
2. Chorakuen (Shimane)
Chorakuen is the most famous mixed onsen in the Chugoku region and once you’ve visited — you won’t be surprised as to why. This mixed bath was completed in 1909 and since then has hosted men and women who arrive together to share the fresh, hot spring water. This bath is also said to be the biggest konyoku onsen in all of Japan, making it a must visit for all hot spring enthusiasts.
3. Megahira Hot Spring (Hiroshima)
Located close to the Megahira ski and snow resort, Megahira Hot Spring is a great aprés-ski stop — or a lovely mixed-gender onsen destination. This establishment requires visitors to wear bathing suits when using the mixed onsen, which is great for onsen first timers. It also boasts a unique wooden bath made from a 45,000-year-old tree!
4. Misasa Onsen (Tottori)
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Nothing beats an early morning bath in the hot springs of Misasa, Tottori 🌱 Misasa literally means 'three mornings'. It's said that if you spend three days in this onsen town all ailments will be healed! Lucky for me I did that and feel all the better for daily soaks in the radioactive water 🌞 Bathing in it, drinking it or even inhaling the fumes from Radioactive water sounds like a terrible idea, but Okayama University has done plenty of research to prove that radon in the water helps with skin conditions, inflammation and arthritis to name a few🏊♀️ Are you brave enough?!
Though this bath isn’t exactly a public mixed-gender hot spring, it’s much bigger than most konyoku onsen in Japan. For ¥3,000 for 45 minutes you can reserve a private bath that can comfortably fit 20 people. This is a great option for large traveling groups who wish to experience an onsen together with a little more privacy than a public konyoku onsen has to offer.
5. Ryuhoukaku (Tottori)
Families that wish to experience onsen together can do so comfortably at Ryuhoukaku, where bathing suits are required. Ryuhoukaku provides guests with 10 different hot spring pools, two saunas and a large outdoor bath that overlooks Togo Hot Springs. This child-friendly environment is a wonderful way to pass the time while relaxing in a natural hot spring.
6. Suna-Yu (Okayama)
In Japanese, suna means “sand,” but don’t let the name fool you: for there is plenty of hot water to soak in. This pool was named “sand bath” because the sand at the bottom of the hot spring spurts up with the hot water that comes from its source. For ¥2,000 (¥,1000 is refunded upon return), Suna Yu offers onsen coverings for women who don’t feel comfortable with bathing completely nude.
7. Yunogou Bishunkaku Onsen Ryokan (Okayama)
Are you looking to experience a traditional mixed bath while staying at a ryokan that also happens to have English services? Yunogou Bishunkaku Onsen Ryokan checks off all of those off the list! Visitors can choose to take a dip in the beautiful outdoor mixed-gender hot spring for a couple hours or easily make a reservation on the ryokan’s English website.
Do you know of any mixed bathing onsen in Japan around the Chugoku region that we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments!