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Tamagawa Onsen: Secluded Hot Springs, Unique for Having Deposits of Hokutolite

There is a secluded hot springs in the Akita Prefecture, which is proud to be the number one or the only one in Japan in many categories. Due to many people’s word of mouth, it has now become a hot springs area where people gather from all over the world. Ref: Photo


The History of Tamagawa Onsen

The Tamagawa Onsen in Akita Prefecture is unique from other hot spring tourist destinations. The reason is that it is a hot spring destination where many people stay for what is called “toji” (hot spring treatment). Toji means that people stay at the hot springs for longer period of time to cure and treat their illnesses with the power of the water from the hot springs. This location was discovered by the local residents back in 1680. At the time of discovery, a wounded deer had bathed in the hot water and saw immediate recovery. For this reason, the hot spring was called “Shika (deer) yu (hot waters)”. 


Why does Tamagawa Onsen rank No. 1 in Japan?


  • It is No.1 in Japan for the amount of water flowing from a single gushing point: there is a flow of 9,000 liters per minute.
  • It is No.1 in acidic strength for hot springs: Water flowing directly from the source has pH level 1.2
  • It is only one of 2 places in the world with mineral rocks called Hokutolite.


What is the Hokutolite


It is a radioactive mineral that contains radium. It can only be found in Taiwan and here at Tamagawa Onsen (the amount of radium exposure is not enough to cause harm to one’s health). For this reason, the Tamagawa Onsen is known as a hot springs with radium, and is said to have top class efficacy in Japan for various ailments.


The Effects of the Tamagawa Onsen

It is said to be effective for skin disease, ailments to the internal organs, nerve pain, high blood pressure, diabetes, boosting immunity, etc. From word of mouth of people who have actually seen improvements in their condition, people gather from all over Japan and from all over the world.
*For those with chronic illnesses, please ensure to consult a physician first. Additionally, effectiveness can vary on the individual.


What you can do at Tamagawa Onsen

1. Stone Sauna


At the Tamagawa Onsen, you can enjoy an outdoor stone bath. The tent with the red roof is the area for the stone bath, but all around, there are people who are enjoying the stone bath upon their woven mats. There is steam erupting from various spots, so you can really pick wherever you want to relax. The heat of the hearth and the minimal radiation helps heat the body from the inside out. It can induce more perspiration than a sauna. It will make your skin so smooth. You can feel its effect just by walking around the area.

2. Bathing in water that is 100% from the water source


It’s possible to bathe in acidic water that is 100% from its source. (Photo on the right) It however, it is forbidden to bathe for too long (Bathing time should be within 3-5 minutes). Make sure you read all the precautions at the site before you enter into the bath.

3. Drinking the water from the spring

By taking the acidic spring water which flows directly from the source and diluting it 10 times, it becomes drinkable. Please ensure that you review the precautions in doing this, and only drink at the designated areas.


The Tamagawa Onsen with top class efficacy in Japan has many visitors that it gets very crowded every day. Of course, even if you do not have any ailments, it’s still enjoyable as a tourist spot. Because the area is filled with highly acidic steam there is the possibility that any metals (watches, necklaces, rings, earrings) or electronics (cell phones, PCs) can rust or malfunction. Please make sure not to take these kinds of valuables to the area. Information: Map

Related: Onsen Articles

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