Nyuto Onsen – Tsuru no yu

I had been greatly anticipating my trip to Nyuto Onsen for a number of months and was thrilled to be visiting on day 2 of our 3 day visit to the Tohoku region. Nyuto Onsen is tucked away deep in the mountains in eastern Akita Prefecture in a beautiful secluded area. We were lucky enough to be driving, which gave us maximum flexibility to be able to freely explore the magnificent country side.

From Morioka, we drove approximately one hour through spectacular mountain passes, and decided to make a slight detour to visit  Lake Tazawako, the deepest lake in Japan.  Although it was very overcast and cold, there were some majestic views along the perimeter of the lake.

My favourite view was the beautiful torii at Goza-no-Ishi Shrine on the northern shore of the lake.  It was impossible not to sense the spiritual energy of the surroundingings and Mother Nature.

Every now and then the clouds would clear, and we were treated to beautiful views of the  mountain ranges surrounding the lake.

Due to the weather we did not linger for long, and soon continued up the road to Nyuto Onsen. Along the way though, there was one more “stop the car” photo moment when I fell in love with the stunning persimmon tree covered in snow. Such a gorgeous contrast with the crisp white snow capping the bright orange persimmons!

Nyuto Onsen Village

Approximately 30 minutes later, we arrived at Nyuto Onsen Village. The village is located in the heart of Mt Nyuto and is surrounded by a beautiful beech tree forest. There are a total of 7 onsen within the area, and all have their unique character and hot spring sources. There is a very handy bus service that will take you around the village to each of the hotsprings. I highly recommend this in the autumn/winter months as the roads are very narrow and windy and quite treacherous in the snow.

We had a near miss on one of the narrow curves. Although only traveling at around 10-15km we had to brake as a car came toward us. We held our breath as our car slid in slow motion toward the oncoming car, but luckily we came to a stop with a few inches to spare!


Tsurunoyu was the first onsen on my list. It has the longest history in Nyuto Onsen and dates back to the mid 1600s when famous feudal lords of Akita visited for therapy. It is quite unique in that it has rows of thatched roof houses that were used by the samurai guards. The buildings remain largely unchanged today and are used for guest accommodation. It was a real treat to see the traditional Japanese architecture blanketed in snow.

Wandering through Tsurunoyu was an adventure in itself to find the entrance way to check in and then peak through the different little doors and entrance ways to discover the various baths. There was a total of 4 baths in all, including one large milky bath which has mixed bathing for men and women.

On the day, I visited 2 of the baths, a little indoor bath, as well as an outdoor bath in the snow. It was as if I had slipped back in time, and I found myself so enamoured with the rustic historical charm….

Below is the beauitful outdoor bath for women only. I loved soaking with the snow flakes gently fluttering down around me and covering my eyelashes…very snow princess like! It was cold though, and the change rooms are small, so I made quick work of getting dressed again and heading back to the car for the onward trip to Ganiba Onsen, our accommodation for the evening.

Getting there

From Tokyo take the Akita Shinkansen Komachi to Tazawako ( 2 hours 58 minutes). Transfer to the bus bound for Nyuto Onsen (45 minutes).

By private car it is about 1 hour from the Morioka interchange or 2 hours from Akita City.

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