The pool (Photo: Malcome Larcens)

Ganiba Onsen

One of the top onsen destinations in Japan

The pool (Photo: Malcome Larcens)
Malcome Larcens   - 3 min read

Soaking in a hot spring (onsen) has to be one of the greatest experiences when visiting Japan. Nyuto Onsen is a group of 7 Ryokans and several natural onsen located in the Hachimantai National Park, in eastern Akita. It is often voted best onsen destination in all of Japan. If you haven't been there, you should definitely add it to your itinerary on your next visit. If you live in Japan then plan it for your next holiday. It's only 30 minutes away from Tazawako Ski Resort, with the best view on any slopes in Japan.

Tucked away in the mountains of Hachimantai National Park are 8 wonderful hot springs (One company has 2 locations), in this article, I will focus on Ganiba Onsen. Ganiba meaning mountain crab, there is a kind of river crab that lives in the rivers around the area. I didn't see any since it was winter, I'll look for them on my next trip. Ganiba is the last hotel on the road, it is well worth the extra drive. The main pool is located about 50 meters away from the hotel for good reason, it is a mixed gender bathing. Surrounded by a beech forests the pool is far enough and over a small hill to give privacy to the guests. They also have separated baths in the hotel if you prefer, although I think experiencing an outdoor hot spring with snow falling on your head is a must, at least once in your life. I first experienced it in BC, Canada 30 years ago and have been hooked since.

The hotel itself has 17 Japanese style rooms ranging from about 9800 yen to 14000 yen, the price include dinner and breakfast. The menu changes according to the seasons to take advantage of the local food when available. I haven't experienced a disappointing meal at a ryokan yet. It's always very pleasing to the eye as well as providing a great variety of dishes. They pay attention to every piece on your plates and bowls. Spring and summer are especially good time to enjoy some of the local mountain wild vegetables (sansai).

As with most hot springs, they have therapeutic effect, this place is said to help with diabetes and skin conditions. It's also a good way to soothe sore muscles after a day on the slopes at Tazawako Ski Resort. You can also go for the onsen only for 600 yen if you prefer.

Getting there

Nyuto Onsen is located in greater Semboku City, from the city center take route 341 north and turn right at Route 127 then left at Route 194, it's at the end, you can't go any further. It takes less than an hour form the city. There is also an hourly shuttle bus from the Tazawako Station.

Malcome Larcens

Malcome Larcens @malcome.larcens

I grew up in Quebec, Canada and studied electronics in college, never worked in that field. Moved to Vancouver in the early 80's where I found my real passion, cooking. I ran my own restaurant for 14 years after that worked as a financial advisor for 4 years, I really enjoyed that too but we had ...