Onsen are a huge part of Japanese culture, which we have written about before. The disappointing thing about onsen is that a lot of them don’t allow tattoos, so it can be a daunting experience to find ones that do. Here, we have compiled the very best tattoo friendly onsen near Tokyo for you to relax your inked-up bodies in.
Tenzan Tohji-kyo Onsen in Hakone
Tenzan onsen gets top marks for its variety of baths, as well as a selection of other facilities available on the premises.
As well as the usual indoor bath and shower area, there are several rotenburo–outdoor baths–to choose from. The biggest bath in the women’s bathing area has a little cave where you can pray for fertility, if that’s your thing, or sit inside and pretend to be a cave witch. Of course, you can kill two birds with one cave and do both.
There is a smaller bath that has a higher water temperature, with a cold water bath right next to it. If you want to prolong your time in the hot springs, I recommend alternating between the hot and cold baths. If you do feel the temperature getting to you, there are seats available to cool off.
The milky bath right in the center has the most pleasant temperature, so you can spend the longest time pretending to be Cleopatra, enjoying your silky smooth skin.
You can also use a sauna and a steam sauna, as well as a multi-directional massage jet shower. These facilities are rarely available at other onsen, which is what makes Tenzan our top choice.
There is shabu-shabu restaurant if you get hungry, which does offer other Japanese set food for reasonable prices, and even had a vegan option last time we were there. A massage service is also available in case you want to splurge. The facilities have a large courtyard in the middle, where you can relax and take in nature.
Pro tip – bring your own body wash, as there is only bar soap available here, and towels will cost you money, so those are good to bring along too.
To get here, you can either drive an hour and a half from Tokyo, or take the Romancecar to Hakone-Yumoto and take the K bus from the station. Entry is ¥1,300 for adults and ¥650 for kids into the main Higana area, and ¥1,100 and ¥650 into the Kayoi annex area. The Kayoi area is small, and not really worth it, so we would recommend just sticking to the main area if it is your first visit. For more on transport, see our guide on getting from Tokyo to Hakone.
Best Value Flights To Tokyo
Yamato No Yu in Narita
What Yamato No Yu lacks in bath variety, it makes up for in its location – it is only 40 minutes away from Narita Airport, which makes it a perfect stop whether you are just beginning your time in Japan, or are flying out of the country and want one last onsen fix.
An important thing to mention is that this onsen does not allow children younger than elementary school age (6 years old), which makes it great if you want to enjoy the quiet, but not so great if you have your family in tow, so plan accordingly.
My favourite thing about the outdoor bath here is that after dark, you can see the lit up train cars go by in the distance, which creates a charming ambiance, especially if you are a train nerd.
If you are shy, there are 3 private baths that are available to book. A private bath for 1-2 people will set you back ¥2,800 for 1 hour, and one for 3-4 people will cost ¥4,000. These baths need to be booked in advance, so be sure to check their website. Entry to the regular bathing area is a very reasonable ¥850 on weekdays, and ¥1,000on weekends.
The restaurant on site is most famous for sushi but has a variety of other food available. I recommend the hamburg steak and shrimp tempura set if you’re not a fish fan.
If you don’t drive, the nearest train station is Shimosa-Manzaki, from which you can either get a taxi, or enjoy the 23 minute walk if the weather is nice, and you don’t have a suitcase in tow.
Hottarakashi Onsen in Yamanashi
Hottarakashi Onsen wins the crown for being the cheapest on this list at ¥800 for adults and ¥400 for kids, and offers stunning mountaintop views, which include Mt. Fuji in all her glory on clear days. The reason it is lower on our list is that it is impossible to get to if you don’t drive and will take over two hours by car from Tokyo.
It is absolutely worth it making the trip out there though, as the huge, tiered, open air baths offer a view like no other, even at night, and allow you to find a place to relax away from other visitors.
There is also a food stall, which is famous for deep fried onsen eggs – they are absolutely delicious, so be sure to try one when there.
If you are interested in making a trip here but don’t have wheels, check out our guide for renting a car in Japan.