Visitors to Tokyo will surely want to sample one of Japan’s most luxurious natural treasures, the hot spring. Some international travelers have come up against an unexpected problem however: many hot spring resorts do not allow tattooed patrons to enjoy the baths.
Though it's a bit of a cultural hangover from years gone by, Japan still has a somewhat unsteady relationship with tattoos. Once a signifier of criminal connections, these days the tattoo is much more of a mainstream fashion statement; but that’s not to say that it’s completely accepted across the country. Typically hot spring resorts - onsen and sento – often do not allow patrons with tattoos as to avoid offending other bathers. But that’s changing, largely thanks to welcoming onsens like the ones you’ll fine below.
So if you’re wondering which onsens accept tattoos, here are our suggestions of 7 hot springs near Tokyo that you can feel welcome to visit no matter how inked your skin is.
1. Shima Onsen Kashiwaya Ryokan
If you’re looking for a little break form the manic energy of city life, then hop on a train and head straight to Shima Onsen Kashiwaya Ryokan in the lush surroundings of Gunma Prefecture. Here you can enjoy all the hospitality of a traditional ryokan stay (think elegantly crafted kaiseki dishes and classic Japanese style rooms) but with a more contemporary attitude. The ryokan has a number of private baths on offer, so if you’re worried about flashing your tattoos, this is a safe option. Beyond the baths, the hotel offer a number of cultural activities including pottery classes and nature walks.
Address: 3829 Shima, Nakanojo-machi, Agatsuma-gun, Gunma
Hours: Contact the hotel
Price: Depends on stay, check website plan list
Transport: 25 minutes by bus from Nakanjo Station
An ideal spot for a day trip, this onsen facility is home to incredible views of Mt. Fuji, and the Kofu basin, which you can soak up while soaking in the facility’s many hot spring baths. One of the most unique features of this onsen is that you can actually watch the sun rise over Mt. Fuji while you bathe. It’s a perfect place for the early risers, as most other Japanese onsens don’t open until late. The large open air public baths overlook the Yamanashi area, so if you’re visiting during the evening you’ll be treated to glittering light shows from the houses and cities below.
Address: 1669-18 Yatsubo, Yamanashi
Hours: Sunrise to 10pm every day
Price: Adult ¥800, children ¥400
Transport: 10 minutes by taxi from Yamanashi station
3. Yu Plaza
Located to the east of central Tokyo you’ll find the quaint Yu Plaza, an onsen that doesn't seem to want to toot its own horn, but definitely has reason to. Here you’ll find a selection of indoor baths featuring high-pressured jet streams and a small outdoor bath as well as sauna facilities. More classic and local than some other tourist oriented baths, this place is where to go if you’re after a super authentic local bathing experience.
After your bath if you feel like taking in some culture, check out the Roppongi Art Triangle!
Address: 3 Chome-35-3 Wakamiya, Ichikawa, Chiba
Hours: 4pm to 12am Tuesday to Friday, 3pm to 12am weekends
Price: Adults ¥430, children ¥300
Transport: 15 minutes from Funabashihoten Station by foot
4. Saito Yu
Head to the retro-neighbourhood of Nippori to find Saito Yu, a welcoming and relaxed bath that’s popular with locals and visitors in the know. At this charming Tokyo hot spring resort you’ll find a collection of lager public baths with different water types and temperatures, as well as water jets and even an electric bath for those feeling extra brave.
Address: 6-59-2 Higashinippori, Arakawa, Tokyo
Hours: 2pm to 11:30pm Saturday to Thursday
Price: People over 12 ¥430, elementary school children ¥180, Preschool students ¥80
Transport: Five minutes from Nippori Station by foot
With a large classic Japanese landscape mural on the wall and a large selection of different types of baths, there’s a lot going on in this central Tokyo hot spring. For those who have trouble handling the heat, this pace is worth visiting as many of its baths offer a variety of water temperatures, from almost scaling hot, to ice, ice cold. If you want a laid back local experience with a welcoming vibe, pop by.
While you’re in the area, why not visit the Hokusai Museum? Check our the details in Where to See Hokusai in Tokyo!
Address: 3-30-8 Sumida, Ishiwara, Tokyo
Hours: 3.30pm to 2am Tuesday to Sunday
Price: ¥1,500 per person private bath, for 90 minutes
Transport: 10 minutes by bus from Kinshicho Station
6. Hakone Guest House Samurai Oyado
Nestled atop a mounting in the hot spring populated area of Hakone you’ll find the Hakone Guest House Samurai Oyado. The spacious facility is actually a guesthouse with free bathing facilities, so if you want to take a dip, it’s worth making this an overnight trip. The outdoor baths are surrounded by quaint Japanese style gardens, using local natural hot spring water. Compared to many other accommodation options in Hakone, the prices here are quite cheap.
Address: 1-19-13 Sakaecho, Odawara, Kanagawa
Hours: 24 hours every day
Price: ¥3,000 – 12,000 for a room with bath access
Transport: 20 minutes from Gora Station by foot
7. Yamato no Yu
This tasteful and modern public bath takes the best elements from the traditional appreciation of onsen bathing and brings them into the contemporary day. Located not far from Narita airport it’s easy to access from basically anywhere in the city. There are indoor and outdoor facilities as well as saunas. It’s the architecture and interior design of this place that makes it so special. With rich wooden panelling, and glowing soft lighting the place makes you feel as though you’ve been whisked off to some peaceful remote Japanese retreat, when in fact you’re sitting in one of the most densely populated cities in the world. When you’re there, sample a fine Japanese wine from the onsen’s 70-strong selection. There are private rooms available as well, and an on-site sushi restaurant.
Address: 1630 Otake, Narita 286-0841, Chiba
Hours: 10am to 10pm every day
Price: Weekdays: ¥800, Weekends and holidays: ¥1,000. ¥2,800-8,500 for a private room
Transport: 10 minutes from Ajiki Station by taxi
Which Tokyo hot spring have you enjoyed the most? Let us know in the comments below!