I’ve claimed to have found the best onsen in Japan before, and I know I’ll make that claim again. That said though, welcome to the Yarimikan’s Yarimi no Yu, the best onsen in Japan... For now.
What makes an onsen great? In a word: location. The Yarimi no Yu is located in the Oku-Hida Onsen Sato deep in the Hida Mountains in Gifu Prefecture. After descending the stairs from the historic Yarimikan (more on that later) and undressing in the rustic, rough-hewn wood and bamboo dressing rooms you’ll come to the Yarimi no Yu, a pool of blue hot spring water straight from the source. If you’d like some shenanigans to go along with you’re soaking, the Yarimi no Yu’s location against a small cliff on the banks of a river, allows you to dare your friends to take a dip in the freezing cold river, jump in the snow that is very prevalent during the colder months, or have a good old fashioned snowball fight. Once you’ve got the juvenile behavior out of your system (all apart from the self-satisfied laughing) you can enjoy the view of the snow-covered Northern Japanese Alps, the forests, the river and the snow, or if you come in the fall, some of the best autumn leaves Japan has to offer. A soak in the Yarimi no Yu at anytime of year is guaranteed to leave you at peace.
Once you’ve finished soaking and headed inside, the all wood construction of Yarimi no Yu’s parent ryokan, the Yarimikan, will tempt you to hang around. The main part of the Yarimikan was built during the Edo-era and moved to its present location from Joetsu during the Meiji Restoration. A multiple course lunch featuring the renowned and delicious Hida beef, or the seasonal bear or wild boar nabe, prepared over the fire in the middle of the airy common room, will cost you ¥5,400. Get your order in early! Lunch closes promptly at 2pm (minimum of 2 people). In the likely event that you’re still hanging out after 2 o’clock, rooms for the night, including dinner and breakfast the next day, start at ¥15,900/person. I very rarely pay a premium for anything but the Yarimikan and the Yarimi no Yu are well worth the price. I didn’t have either the budget or the reservation for it on my trip through Gifu, but I will be making a return trip. Happy travels!
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Seven years of exploring and playing in the wilds of Japan! Now I'm JapanTravel's Tourism and PR Ambassador in Nara Prefecture and the Regional Partner for Nara Prefecture. It's been my experience that there's little if any awareness of Nara and its importance outside of Japan. My goal: remedy that