Translated by Jasmine Nishino
Togura Kamiyamada Onsen, Nagano - Meet Geisha And Enjoy Hot Springs
Written by Mayu
Togura Kamiyamada Onsen is a hot spring resort in Chikuma city, Nagano. Find out more about the highlights of this resort which is close to the famous Zenkoji Temple, as well as how to see a geisha performance during your stay.
Where is Togura Kamiyamada Onsen?
Photo courtesy of Nagano Tourist Organization
Togura Kamiyamada Onsen is a hot spring resort located in Chikuma city in Nagano. Along the left shore of Chikuma river is Togura Onsen and Kamiyamada Onsen. On the right shore of the river is Shin Togura Onsen and all these hot spring resorts together are called Shinshu Togura Kamiyamada Onsen. With a history of over 120 years, Togura Kamiyamada Onsen has been a popular hot spring spot where many tourists stop by after visiting the famed Zenkoji Temple.
Since the early 1900's in the Taisho period, the hot spring facilities have expanded and the area has gradually become a tourist spot. At some ryokan and restaurants, performances held by geisha became widely known and people all over Japan began to acknowledge Togura Kamiyama Onsen as a splendid hot spring. Geisha songs and performances can still be seen today.
In this article, we would like to introduce you the access methods, one-day hot spring spots, and accommodations of Togura Kamiyamada Onsen.
Traits and Effects of Togura Kamiyamada Onsen
The main trait of the Togura Kamiyama Onsen is the simple alkaline hot spring. The waters do not have a strong scent and are very gentle to the skin. Those with sensitive skin are able to bathe without worrying.
Studies have shown that alkaline hot springs can help to relieve stress, recover from fatigue and improve one's overall health. The Togura Kamiyamada Onsen is also referred to as the spring of beauty for improving skin problems as well.
The water in the hot springs here usually has no color, but there may be some baths with a faint green color because they contain minerals.
*Please note that depending on the facility, the effects of the springs will vary.
Access to Togura Kamiyamada Onsen from Tokyo
In order to get to Togura Kamiyamada Onsen, from Tokyo Station take the Hokuriku Asama shinkansen bound for Nagano and get off at Ueda Station. It takes around an hour and 40 minutes and costs 6150 yen.
From Ueda Station, transfer to the Shinano Railway bound for Nagano and get off at Togura Station. It takes around 15 minutes and costs 330 yen.
Upon arriving at Togura Station, get on the Chikuma City Loop Bus - Large Loop Line (Eastbound) and get off at Kamiyamada Onsen Entrance or the Togura Onsen Entrance. The cost of either bus is 200 yen.
Access From Zenkoji Temple
From Zenkoji Temple, it is about 30 km to Togura Kamiyamada Onsen and takes around one hour by car.
If you are using the train, go to Nagano Station, which is the closest station to Zenkoji Temple. Get on the Shinano railway bound for Komoro and get off at Togura Station. It takes 25 minutes and costs 410 yen. From Togura Station, please refer to the ”Access to Togura Kamiyamada Onsen from Tokyo” section above.
One-Day Hot Spring Spots in Togura Kamiyamada Onsen
Here we will introduce you some recommended spots to enjoy one-day baths in Togura Kamiyamada Onsen.
Togura Kokumin Onsen
Photo courtesy of Nagano Tourist Organization
A casual hot spring you can enjoy in the Togura Kamiyamda area is the Togura Kokumin Onsen. Aside from the baths, the water from the faucet and shower are also using free-flowing hot springs. There are no open air baths, but many locals come to bathe in this facility.
Bathing fee: 300 yen for adults (middle school students and above), 120 yen for children (elementary school students), free for infants (includes consumption tax and bathing tax)
Address: Nagano, Chikuma, Owaza Togura Shibamiya 2228-2
Website: Togura Kokumin Onsen (Japanese)
Yumoto Kame no Yu
This is a hot spring facility that has been operating since 1903. The baths have a simple sulfur spring that is said to improve poor circulation, neuralgia, skin problems, and gynecological problems. Aside from open-air baths and indoor baths, there is also a unique ceramic bath.
Bathing fee: 350 yen for adults, 150 yen for children (elementary school students), 70 yen for infants (3 years old and above) (includes consumption tax and bathing tax)
Address: Nagano, Chikuma, Kamiyamada onsen 1-27-11
Website: Yumoto Kame no Yu (Japanese)
Yunohana Sento Zuisho - Kamiyamada Honkan
From the outside, Yunohana Sento Zuisho appears to be an inn. This is a perfect hot spring for those who wish to spend a leisurely time. Along with open-air baths, indoor baths, saunas, and jet baths, there are massage parlors and restaurants in the facility as well. Light meals like curry with pork cutlet and handmade soba are provided for approximately 1000 yen. You can also order the local specialty: oshibori udon noodles that are eaten with grated daikon radish and Shinshu miso sauce.
Bathing fee: 680 yen for adults, 350 yen for children (elementary school students), 100 yen for infants, free for children under 3 (includes consumption tax and bathing tax)
Address: Nagano, Chikuma, Kamiyamada onsen 2-18-8
Website: Yunohana Sento Zuisho (Japanese)
Recommended Ryokan in Togura Kamiyamada Onsen
Here are some hot spring ryokan that are recommended in Togura Kamiyamada.
A historical hotel that began business in 1903, this ryokan is known for its refreshing open-air bath and indoor bath. Customers staying at the hotel are able to use three of the private open-air baths (5400 yen including tax). The annex called Hounenmushi was designed by the Japanese architect Arata Endo who studied under the world famous Frank Lloyd Wright. The annex is designated as a Tangible Cultural property.
Address: Nagano, Chikuma, Chikuma no Yu, Togura Onsen
Website: Sasaya Hotel
With many repeat customers, this quaint inn has an open-air bath constructed by the young master of the inn, Mr. Lynch from America who is an architect. Visitors from outside of Japan are welcome to visit and stay with helpful English assistance. Read more about this wonderful inn on their English website.
Address: Nagano, Chikuma, Kamiyamada Onsen 2-15-1
Website: Kamesei Ryokan (Japanese)
Ito-en Hotels Riverside Uedakan
A hotel standing by the Chikuma river with an open-air bath and an indoor bath with large windows. From there, you can see a panoramic view of the neighboring mountains and the Chikuma river. In addition to the baths, you can enjoy karaoke, ping pong, go, shogi, and various other games during your stay.
Address: Nagano, Chikuma, Togura Onsen 3055
Website: Ito-en Hotels Riverside Uedakan (Japanese)
Tips on Enjoying Togura Kamiyamada Onsen (Retro City Streets and Geisha)
When visiting Togura Kamiyamada Onsen, exploring the retro streets is one of the highlights. Slip back in time with the Showa period atmosphere while visiting spots like a shooting range that is still in operation. A must-try dish during your visit is the oshibori udon that can be found in many local restaurants.
For those planning to hold parties in Togura Kamiueda, you can invite a geisha to a ryokan or restaurant for a live performance. For two geishas, prices start at 20,000 yen for 30 minutes. There are also kimono wearing experiences with the geisha that you can enjoy starting from 2000 yen for 30 minutes. For more details, ask the inn you are staying at in Togura Kamiueda.
Why not indulge in the tradition and the history of Togura Kamiueda Onsen during your visit to Nagano?
For more information on bathing in hot springs, please refer to What You Should Know About Bath Culture In Japan.
** Travel times and expenses are based on publicly available information and are current as of March 2017. They may be subject to change.