- 3 min read

Oyasu Ravine

Where the Earth Comes Alive Through Steam and Heat

There are countless hot springs in Japan, but have you ever seen a hot river? At the bottom on Oyasu Ravine, down 200 stairs (which means you’re going up later!) is a beautiful scene. A crystal clear river cuts through the hardened rocks. Trees sprout out of the craggy cliff, providing a shady heaven. Small waterfalls complete the serenity. Then you see fog in the distance. It’s not fog though, it’s steam. Water is superheated and creates a cloud of steam rising from its surface. Walk along the concrete path, turn the corner, and a wall of mist stops you. The path you must take is sandwiched between a heated river and cracked rocks that are shooting steam. The only way to get through is take a deep breath and power walk through the wall of mists. I would suggest running, but the steam cloud is so thick--though just for a second or two in the middle-that I almost hit someone on my dash to freedom. After exiting the ravine, there are several other must do's while visiting the Oyasu onsen region.

Take a left and walk down the road to escape the tourists and see a real onsen town. The people here depend on tourism and utilize the natural heated water bubbling from the Earth as a way of life. The town has a proper hot spring, but it is some fun features that give the town real charm. A shack outside a store offers a neighborhood meeting spot. Inside the shack is a free lounge area to soak your feet in ultra relaxing heated water. While relaxing, I took advantage of practicing some Japanese with travelers and locals alike here. Getting hungry? Well right outside the foot bath is a small stone structure that is heating eggs using water from the middle of the Earth. For 50 yen you can enjoy a hard boiled egg, courtesy of Mother Nature. If eggs are not your thing, there are other things to spend your money on.

The area is a treasure trove of shops, restaurants, and hotels in the area. Pick up some Akita specialty foods and gifts, or grab a bite to eat in one of the four restaurants in the area. Several hotels in the area give you the opportunity to stay overnight. You can go back the next day to see the ravine again or you can enjoy the mountains and forests with some outdoor hiking. Most of the hotels have spring water hot baths inside them to use, so you can relax in privacy.

The Oyasu onsen region and its famous ravine are a bit out of the way to travel to. The location is about a 2 hour drive from Akita City or Akita airport. By train it 3 hours 25 minutes from Tokyo to Omagari Station via JR Akita Shinkansen Line, and 35 minutes from the station to Yuzawa Station via JR Ou Honsen Line. If you are able to make it, you will see some of the best natural wonders Akita has to enjoy.

Was this article helpful?
Help us improve the site
Give Feedback

Join the discussion

Kim 2 years ago
Japan has so many ways of reminding me how awesome Mother Nature is!

Thank you for your support!

Your feedback has been sent.