Translated by Jasmine Nishino
Heal Yourself At Tamagawa Onsen, Akita - Access And Recommended Inns
Written by Mayu
Tamagawa Onsen is a hot spring area located nearly one hour away by car from Lake Tazawa in Senboku city in Akita. Not only can you bathe here, but you can enjoy rock baths or even drink the waters for health purposes.
What Kind of Place Is Tamagawa Onsen?
Tamagawa Onsen is not really known as a tourist spot, but more as a place for curing diseases by bathing (toji, *1). Many visit this hot spring for a week to almost a month to cure physical problems. Therefore, there are many hot spring accommodations for long term visitors.
Near the hot springs, you will find the Tamagawa Hot Spring Nature and Ecology Center within the national park. There, you can experience bathing in a natural ganbanyoku bath (*2). After placing a towel on the heated ground, you can lie down and indulge in the warmth produced from the earth.
Not only can you bathe in the hot springs at Tamagawa Onsen, but you can enjoy the ganbanyoku and even drink the hot springs.
*1 Toji: a healing practice by bathing.
*2 Ganbanyoku: a bathing method where one lies down on the ground producing natural heat. Ganbanyokujo is the name of the place to experience the ganbanyoku.
Traits and Effects of Tamagawa Hot Springs
Tamagawa Onsen is known to have chloride springs that are said to help heal high blood pressure, neuralgia, gynecological issues, and skin problems. Another trait of these springs is the high acidity of the water. Please avoid getting the spring water in open cuts and in your eyes. It may hurt if the water comes in contact with your wounds.
However, Tamagawa Onsen can be enjoyed in many other ways aside from just bathing. The water is said to be good for one's health when consumed or even inhaled as steam. The waters of Tamagawa Onsen are said to improve stomach conditions when drunk, and the steam is said to improve colds and asthma symptoms (*3).
The ganbanyoku is also said to improve blood flow and metabolism as well.
**3 Not all hot springs are meant for consumption and may have ill effects on the body. The drinkable springs are marked by signs on the Tamagawa Onsen website. Please be aware of rules and manners before consuming this water.
How to Get to Tamagawa Onsen from Tokyo and Akita Airport
In order to go to Tamagawa Onsen, get on the Komachi shinkansen bound for Akita from Tokyo Station and get off at Tazawako Station. It takes around three hours and costs 6170 yen.
After arriving at Tazawako Station, transfer to the Ugo Kotsu bus and head toward the hot springs village. From April to October, you can go on the Hachimantai Express line and from November to March, you can go on the Shin-Tamagawa Express line. The lines change according to the season, so please check prior to going.
Take the bus for around 70-80 minutes to Tamagawa Onsen or Shin-Tamagawa Onsen. It costs 1460 yen to Tamagawa Onsen and 1440 yen to Shin-Tamagawa Onsen.
From Akita Airport
The best way to get to Tamagawa Onsen from Akita Airport is by the express bus. If you get on the Akita Airport Liner Tamagawa-go (Kakunodate, Tazawako, Tamagawa Onsen-bound), it takes around 180 minutes to reach the hot springs and costs 6000 yen.
One-Day Tamagawa Onsen Hot Springs Facility
Tamagawa Onsen Open-Air Bath
This mix-gender open-air bath is located along the streets of the Tamagawa Hot Spring Nature and Ecology Center. Please be aware that there are times where the entrance is limited due to natural disasters (excessive snowfall for example) or times when there is no hot water is in the bath.
Bathing Fee: Free
Address: Akita, Senboku, Tazawako, Tamagawa
Recommended Accommodations in Tamagawa Onsen
Many people visit Tamagawa Onsen for long periods of time in order to cure their diseases and tend to stay in the area to spend a peaceful and relaxing time in the hot springs. Many hot spring villages in Japan allow visitors to use the bathing facilities without staying the night, but many accommodations in Tamagawa Onsen require you to stay the night to bathe in the hot springs.
There are also some places that do not operate during the winter when large amounts of snow surround the area. It is advised for you to check the accommodation's websites in advance, prior to going to the hot springs.
The largest toji inn in the area is the Tamagawa Onsen. This facility was made for long term visitors and has hot springs, an indoor ganbanyoku bath, guest rooms, cafeterias, a shared kitchen, and even a laundry room. Short term visitors are welcome as well.
Please note that the facility is closed from November 30th, 2016, to April 14th, 2017, during the winter season.
Address: Akita, Senboku, Tamagawa, Tazawako Shibukurosawa
Website: Tamagawa Onsen
Like the Tamagawa Onsen, this facility is also made for long term guests. The interior is generally the same as the Tamagawa Onsen and has hot springs, an indoor ganbanyoku bath, guest rooms, and laundry rooms. They even have a karaoke room and a cafe with a lovely terrace. Their meals made using local vegetables are also popular among the guests staying at the inn as well.
Address: Akita, Senboku, Tazawako Tamagawa
Website: Shin-Tamagawa Onsen
Recommended Tourist Spots Around Tamagawa Onsen
Around the Tamagawa Onsen area, there are many popular natural tourist spots.
At the Tamagawa Hot Spring Nature and Ecology Center, you will find the source of the Tamagawa Hot Spring called Obuke/Obuki. It is an exciting spot where you can see 9,000 liters of hot water erupting every minute.
If you take an excursion out by car, in about an hour you can reach Lake Tazawa, known to be the deepest lake in Japan. Why not go off the beaten path and have an adventure while visiting Tamagawa Onsen?
For more information on how to bathe in hot springs, please read 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.