A Little Piece of Heaven
Situated deep in the mountains of Nyuto in the Akita Prefecture, there is a
stretch of onsens that remain nearly undiscovered by tourists. Their views are
breathtaking and simply put, each one is a little slice of hidden paradise
Onsens, or hot springs, have long played an important role in Japan.
Hundreds of years ago, people used them to heal wounds and injuries, and they are now seen as a therapeutic practice that helps restore both mind and body.
In Akita, onsens are seen as an extension of the earth, a source of minerals and vitamins that enrich the naturally hot water that bubbles from the ground.
The hot springs are part of a wholly healthy lifestyle that includes not only immersing yourself in the mineral-rich waters, but also cleansing and filling your body with healthy foods.
One of Akita’s healthiest foods are its “mountain vegetables.” Known as sansai, these wild greens are a prefectural local favorite.
Because these durable plants survive harsh snow conditions during the winter and ripen later in the spring, sansai are seen as a kind of “power food,” and by feeding your body with these hardy vegetables, Akita locals believe you are taking in that power to both detox and nourish your body.
Traditionally, in the countryside of Japan, fishermen and farmers would spend their off seasons at the onsens to heal up for the work to come.
This practice was known as toji—literally, “hot spring cure,” and some onsen locations still offer this opportunity today.
Toji-ba, or hot spring health resorts, are not just vacation spots, but can be locations for long-term stay: guests can cook in the kitchens provided at the ryokans and bathe daily, as a way to recover both mentally and physically.
Onsens are great for locals on a journey to a healthier body as well as tourists looking for a relaxing getaway to recharge.
In between baths, Akita offers scenic hikes amongst buna (Japanese beech) trees.
The collection of lush trees and mountain water streams make for peaceful hikes during the spring, summer and fall months.