Shimobe Onsen

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The town of Shimobe has for more than a millennium been known for the therapeutic properties of its hot spring (onsen) water. Legend tells how Shimobe’s Kumano Shrine was established after the ninth-century lord of Kai Province came here to convalesce, while sixteenth-century warlord Takeda Shingen is also said to have visited post-battle.

In their present incarnation, Shimobe’s winding, hilly streets retain the atmosphere of a 1960s-’80s hot-spring resort. Along with the physical and mental reset promoted by its waters, the town offers an escape from today’s always-on digital world. In the late twentieth century Shimobe was named one of the “100 famous hot springs” of Japan, and very little has changed since then.

Wander along the main street, just west of Shimobeonsen Station, to discover more than a dozen inviting hot-spring hotels. Their architectural styles and décor vary greatly, each with its own distinct character, but all are fed by the same hot spring that has been gushing out interrupted for centuries. At certain hotels, it is possible to enjoy the baths without an overnight stay.

Nestled among the hotels are a handful of similarly old-school eateries and souvenir shops. Be sure not to miss Kumano Shrine, a Shinto sanctuary hidden on a hillside and accessed via an alleyway (look for the red torii gate) just right of the Gensenkan hotel. This sanctuary is almost certainly the only Japanese place of worship to incorporate a giant, toboggan-like slide.



Venue Address

409-2936 7024-1 Tokiwa, Minobu-cho, Minamikoma-gun

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