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Goin’ Japanesque!

Like an Adventure! Experience the 9 Springs of Shibu Onsen (Nagano)

We’re sure there are many of you who know about the Jigokudani Monkey Park in Nagano as the place where you can see snow monkeys. As we wrote in our other article, after seeing the snow monkeys, you should go to the Shibu Onsen that is nearb. Today we’re going to show you a walking route to the Shibun Onsen you must experience in the course of watching the snow monkeys. Ref: Photo


What are the 9 Open Air Springs of Shibu Onsen?

The Shibu Onsen in Nagano is called the Yudanaka Shibu Onsen Village. Nagano is famous as a place for onsen but this region in particular takes pride in the quantity and quality of its onsen. Naturally, the main attraction of this region are the onsen, but the charming old town is also popular and visitors from all over the world come here. In the Shibu Onsen district there are 35 ryokan (traditional Japense inn) and 9 open air onsen that have been well protected by the locals. These 9 onsen are each locked and only the locals or those staying at a Shibu Onsen ryokan can enter. A major appeal of these 9 is that they’re each a different type of spring with different effects.

*Currently 9th onsen has been made an exception and you can enter by paying a fee without having to stay in a ryokan.


Just like Dragon Quest! Collect the onsen stamps from the 9 Springs

#1: Hatsuyu 初湯 (first bath of the new year) – Helps: Stomach
#2: Sasa no yu 笹の湯 (bamboo grass bath) – Helps: Eczema
#3: Wata no yu 綿の湯 (cotton bath) – Helps: Cuts, pimples, fertility
#4: Take no yu 竹の湯 (bamboo bath) – Helps: Gout
#5: Matsu no yu 松の湯 (pine bath) – Helps: Spinal degeneration
#6: Mearai no yu 目洗い湯 (eyewash bath) – Helps: Eye disease
#7: Nanakuri no yu 七操の湯 (seven honors bath) – Helps: Traumatic injuries
#8: Shinmeitaki no yu 神明滝の湯 (god waterfalls bath) – Helps: Women’s diseases
#9: Shibu Ooyu 渋大湯 (big shibu bath) – Helps: Fertility, rheumatism and nerve pain

If you stay at any of the Shibu Onsen ryokans then you’ll get a hand towel and a master key to the open air baths. With this, your adventure’s finally begun!


The 9 open air baths we introduced to you earlier are closely located on the charming, stone paved main street. Put on your yukata, let your geta clogs tap out a beat, and head forward to adventure.

6th: Mearai no yu 目洗い湯

9th: Shibu Ooyu 渋大湯

When you’ve found the bath you want, unlock it with the master key and enter the unmanned free bath. Many people say that the 6th and 9th baths are particularly good out of the 9.

There’s a stamp at each bathhouse. Use them on the hand towel you received to prove you ‘cleared’ the area. It’s fun and feels like an RPG game when you’ve conquered a map. But it’s even more like you’ve leveled up here because you’ll have soaked in an onsen!

Your stamps are complete! The hand towel is yours to keep as a souvenir.


Oops, it’s not over yet. Let’s climb the high ground in front of the final 9th onsen. Here at Shibu-Takayakushi you’ll get your 10th stamp, proving you conquered all 9. If you manage to get this far, they say all your troubles (“kurou” with “ku” being the same sound for the number 9) will wash away in the onsen and your prayers will be answered. This isn’t just fun, it’s also going to bring you lots of luck.


What did you think about this adventure set at onsen? Try it yourself–become like the protagonist in a game and conquer the onsen while also having fun! Information: Map

Jigokudani Monkey Park: See the Only Snow Monkeys in the World
Kanaguya Hot Springs Hotel: How Often Do You Get to Stay in a Cultural Asset!

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