Me Time Trend: Onsen Near Tokyo

During the last ten years, Me Time culture has become increasingly more popular in Japan. The top 3 Me Time trend activities in Japan are onsen, sauna, and camping. These activities provide specialized services for solo travelers. Before we introduce you to the sauna and camping trends in Tokyo we would like to talk about onsen. Because it’s an important aspect of Japanese traditional culture as well as a trending Me Time activity.

What’s Onsen?

Natural hot springs or onsens are fueled by volcanic activity. The minerals provide various health benefits, and have a relaxing effect on your body and mind. Many onsens are in ryokans (much more preferable and recommended), while a few others are in bath houses. A ryokan is a type of traditional Japanese inn and typically provides onsen service. We can’t say all the ryokans have onsens, as some ryokan only have regular baths. If you looking for a ryokan with onsen experience, make sure the place definitely has onsen. An overnight stay at an onsen in a ryokan is a great experience to any visitor of Japan.

You can also enjoy onsen without staying in a ryokan as most of them will provide onsen-only services for non-ryokan guests. If you prefer hot springs only, you can just pay for the onsen fees! The cost is around 500 to 1500 yen. No reservations are required…just visit your onsen-ryokan and then tell them, “Higaeri onsen onegaishimasu“, which means you would like to use the onsen only.

Keep these things in mind when carefully choosing the onsen & ryokan for a solo traveler:

Never Compromise Your Travel Experience. It’s “Me Time” and it might be one of the few times you visit Japan and an onsen so it’s important to have as high a quality experience as possible. It’s one of the reasons why we love to travel solo is because of no need to compromise yourself and the experience. 

Choose a high-quality onsen with an unforgettable view.  An onsen is the ultimate and most unique bathing experience. The hot spring waters will certainly help refresh your mind, relax your body, and bring you a deeper sleep/rest.

In general, there tends to be greater hospitality and treatment for solo travelers. Depending on the services provided by certain ryokan staff, the solo traveler can receive a quieter spaces and more private spot offerings. They make it a point to make the solo traveler to feel comfortable.

Food, food, and FOOD! The food experience is one of the best attractions in Japan. We care about food included in the onsen experience. The cuisine is amazing with mainly local ingredients used such as highly fresh & natural vegetables, and special fish and meat sourced from local producers.

Tips For Serious Solo Travelers.

Avoid the weekend. Avoid family or large groups which tend to come during the weekends making it less peaceful and enjoyable. So if it’s at all possible, try to travel to an Onsen/Ryokan during the weekdays for the best solo traveler experience. Places typically have a choice for breakfast and dinner, either in your own room or in a communal dining area. Although both options are good, requesting to dine in your own room is a very nice choice for solo travelers.

Small or family-run hotels are cozier than the big hotels. These places are accommodated by only a small number of people, so they can entertain their customers with more attentive services. When it comes to long-term stays, they actually meet with their customers every day. They communicate with guests like a family.

Many onsen owners say numerous Japanese people travel alone throughout the year, and more than half of their customers are solo travelers. Thus, you never need to hesitate to make plans to travel to Japan… enjoy your time! Here is some of our team’s onsen choices, especially picked for the solo traveler. No worries about translating as most of these have an English language website!

Beauty of Seasonal Scenery and Open-air Hot-spring Baths: Tofuya Resort&Spa – Izu, Shizuoka Prefecture

The Tofuya opened its doors in 2011 after renovating a 400-year-old ryokan. From the open-air bath in the room, the view looks like a picture. With each season there is amazing seasonal scenery such as cherry blossoms in spring and fresh greenery in the early summer. If you value the view, try the Japanese-Western style room with a semi-open-air hot spring in the West Building. In addition, you can visit 6 other hot springs including a private bath in the hall.

Access: 98 Yoshina, Izu-shi, Izu, Shizuoka, 410-3208

It’s a little bit pricy, but I went there on my birthday by myself with no regrets at all! Tofuya is clean and sophisticated, with great hospitality. All of your five senses will be healed and awakened with the onsen and Kaiseki foods.

Voice from one of our members…

What is Kaiseki ryori? It is a traditional Japanese multi-course haute cuisine meal. Each ryokan has an exclusive chef who changes the menu every season. Meals are made from seasonal fresh & high quality local ingredients.

Ocean Front & Delicious Seafood: Ryokan Tachibana_Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture

Enjoying both the beach and onsen is a great experience that’s perfect for relaxation and meditation time. If you are also looking for a reasonable onsen/ryokan, this might be the place to suit you. This onsen is open 24 hours.

Their springs claim effectiveness for neuralgia, rheumatism, atopy, poor circulation and gynecological conditions and more. You can enjoy a seasonal fresh seafood dinner in your own room which makes your Me Time more comfortable and peaceful. It’s a small inn with a very friendly staff where you can feel the goodness of the old days of Japan and the warm hospitality.

Access:5-13, Showa-machi, Atami, Shizuoka 413-0022

Relaxing onsen with natural sounds of the ocean waves. Afterwards, you certainly should enjoy the delicious seafood dinner. A perfect Me Time remedy.

Voice from our members…

Clean & Cozy Sophistication: Kusatsu Hotel Annex Watanoyu_Kusatsu, Gunma Prefecture

This is a cozy ryokan with 11 guest rooms, which is popular for solo guests who enjoy a quiet & peaceful retreat. Watanoyu opened in July 2007 as an annex of Kusatsu ryokan, founded in 1913. They have two different hot springs, Wata-no-yu and Bandaiko which are part of the Kusatsu Onsen source. It draws a rare source of hot water, Wata-no-yu, which looks dyed in a milky white color like cotton. It makes your body and soul healed quickly to the core.

In their main building, the 3rd floor has an open-air footbath. It is a small and cozy spot that you can see the daily life of the local village walking around. It’s one of our team members’ favorite spots. They have a book lounge, where you can enjoy free drinks of hot chocolate and tea while you enjoy your reading.

A few feet away from the ryokan, is Sainokawara Park, a nice hiking area. There is a footbath area in the park and the largest open-air bath in the area, called the Sainokawara Open-air Bath. Kusatsu International Ski Place nearby has great hiking spots in the spring & autumn, and during the winter. It’s a fun place to ski and enjoy winter sporting activities.

Access:469-4 Kusatsu, Kusatsu-Machi, Agatsuma-Gun, Gumma 377-1711

I am totally healed by enjoying the silky white-hot spring waters, walking through the peaceful woods in the morning and bathing in the great forest environment…”

Voice from our members…

Surrounded by Onsen & Books: Hakone Honbako_Hakone,Kanagawa Prefecture

This is a dream modern ryokan for both reading & onsen lovers where you can spend your Me Time surrounded by books. It’s an irresistible place for book-lovers. It is a boutique-style, accommodation-themed resort, as you and select from a large array of books. There are multiple spaces that offer you the joy of discovering new reads. It’s a little bit pricy, but you also have your own private open-air bath, and you can enjoy your meal in your room! It is a great place to celebrate your Me Time within a modern stylish onsen atmosphere/setting.

Access:1320-491 Gora Hakone Tozan Tetsudo Cable Car, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun Kanagawa 250-0408

When I go there, many guests are solo travelers. I felt very cozy, comfortable, and enjoy my solitude thoroughly.

Voice from our members…

Great nature and authentic moment: Rankeisou_Sanjo, Niigata Prefecture


Niigata produces some of the finest sake and rice and is referred to as Snow Country. They have luxury natural sodium mineral baths, four that are outdoors and another four hot springs indoors. The hot springs are famous and locally known for helping people suffering from skin diseases, cuts, poor circulation, gynecological diseases, neuralgic pain, and shoulder stiffness.

The 100-year-old fully wooden resort and Zen garden heals you physically, mentally and spiritually. Next to Sanjay city, Tsubame city carries many metal goods to purchase. Historically 90% of Japan’s silverware and aluminum containers have been made in this small town. It’s great to visit Tsubame Industrial Materials Museum and some nearby factories.

Access:1450 Nagano, Sanjo 955-0132 Niigata

In February, they created a big snow dome with a snow-light. It was a fantastic moment to be there because of the silent beauty of the countryside.

Voice from our members…

We urge you to read up on onsen etiquette before you go. For example: Going Naked – It is Japanese traditional culture that everyone goes into the bath naked. Make sure you take a hand towel for washing your body and covering up your skin afterwards. First, before entering the bathtub, it is customary to lightly wash your lower body outside the tub. After that, you get in the bathtub and soak for a while.

No washing inside the bathtub. There is a separate space provided for washing, as well as a bathtub and shower. Please wash your body and hair at the washing space. Never wash your cloths inside the bathtub. Watch and learn from others that you are around!

We hope you find the best place from our real experiences! Enjoy your own Me Time, and let us know about your onsen experience! Please leave comments here.

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