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Thermal Bath Island

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Officially marketed as ‘Onsen Island Kyushu’ by the local tourism board, the island is naturally abundant with hot springs, or onsen in Japanese. The thermal waters are heated by Kyushu’s very landscape, which consists of numerous active volcanic calderas. Here are three best places to have a soak on Kyushu.

Oita Prefecture

Nicknamed ‘Onsen Oita’, this prefecture in northern Kyushu produces the highest volume of thermal water in Japan, which can be enjoyed within its two major hot spring sites – Beppu and Yufuin.



Beppu Onsen has over 2,000 hot spring sites spread over eight towns which are nicknamed Beppu Hatto, or the ‘eight hot springs of Beppu’, which range from large-scale, family-oriented spas to secluded ryokans in the mountains. Located along the scenic Beppu Bay, the town is backed by Mt. Tsurumi, which is accessible via a ropeway, from where there are sweeping views over Beppu.


Yufuin Onsen

Nearby Yufuin Onsen is often preferred by Japanese visitors for its tranquil atmosphere, as it eschews stereotypical large-scale onsen developments. The town features communal baths, craft studios, and cafes, with picturesque views of Mt. Yufu which produces much of the thermal waters here.

Kumamoto Prefecture


Kurokawa Onsen

Looking like a village straight out of the Edo era, Kurokawa Onsen is lined with classic ryokans in traditional Japanese architecture along the Tanohara River Gorge. Surrounded by tranquil nature, its authentic setting is its main draw, as are the outdoor baths at some of the ryokans. Visitors in yukata can be seen strolling around town with an onsen tegata, or onsen pass, which you can purchase to gain access into hot spring baths of three ryokans of your choice.

Kagoshima Prefecture

Kagoshima prefecture in the far south of Kyushu takes second place for the volume of thermal water produced, with two popular onsen areas: Kirishima and Ibusuki.


Maruo Onsen

Kirishima Onsen, located on the foothills of the active Kirishima volcanoes, consists of a number of hot spring areas, including the large-scale Maruo Onsen and Hayashida Onsen with its spectacular view of Sakurajima (an active cone volcano in Kagoshima Bay). The water quality ranges from crystal clear springs to creamy sulfuric springs.

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Dressed in kimono at Kirishima Shrine

The 18th century Kirishima Shrine, with its gorgeous architectural style reminiscent of Nikko Toshogu in Tochigi, features vermilion accents and richly-colored reliefs, creating a vivid backdrop in fall. Located near Kirishima’s hot spring resorts, you can opt for a kimono-dressing session (¥3,000) which includes getting dressed up in kimono (for men and women) for a photoshoot at the shrine; local volunteers are at hand to help you get into the outfit.


Ibusuki sand bath

Ibusuki, on the southern tip of the Satsuma Peninsula, is another popular hot spring resort with numerous ryokans, hotels, and communal bathhouses. However, no visit to Ibusuki is complete without a unique hot sand bath – dressed in yukata (cotton kimono) you are literally buried, by friendly shovel-toting staff, from neck to toe in hot sand. Although some resorts offer private hot sand beaches, there is also a public sand bath facility. While the sand baths are open till late, the location along the beach is scenic during the day.

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