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Nyuto Onsen: Tsurunoyu

Nyuto Onsen: Tsurunoyu

My utmost passion for onsen is sometimes showing throughout my articles but isn’t it too blurred? So, from now on, I’ll make sure to cover more onsen and ryokan! Today, in this article, I bring you in the most popular onsen in the Akita prefecture : the Nyuto onsen. We’ll then go for a nap in the Tsurunoyu ryokan.

Towards Nyuto Onsen
Towards Nyuto Onsen.

Nyuto Onsen

This onsen is located somewhere deep in Akita prefecture but is actually reachable by bus from Tazawako station. Of course, the best way to enjoy this would be to have our own transportation in order to be free from schedules, tourist schedules… By the way, interestingly, 2-3 kilometers before reaching the onsen there is a very nice swamp which reminds us the Oze swamp.

Nyuto Onsen Entrance
Nyuto Onsen Entrance.

Nyuto means nipple (literally!) and it’s due to the shape of the nearby mountain of the same name. And to go with this already exciting introduction, we must add that not only this onsen is secret, but it also has a mixed outdoor bath with… whiten waters. The motivation reaches a climax!

Nyuto Onsen Main Street
Main Street of Nyuto Onsen.

Beyond the tori looking entrance we find ourselves in an edo-like alley that leads us to the onsen baths. This exact location actually is named Tsurunoyu (the “bath of the crane”, now another historical reference). It’s the oldest and the most reknown onsen of the six of Nyuto onsen. We can still easily imagine the samurais, like us, going to the soaking paradise.

Nyuto Onsen Ryokan
Ryokan at Nyuto Onsen.

Tsurunoyu is also the name of the ryokan that we stayed at for the night. It is separated in half: here is the older one (above is one of its entrances), the other one will be shown further down. One must book several weeks in advance if they want to have the most interesting rooms that are here.

Nyuto Onsen Bridge
Bridge at Nyuto Onsen.

Even if this place is really popular, it’s in fact pretty tiny. Upon crossing a small bridge, only two choices await us. On the left, there are the private onsen baths : men and women are separated in interior baths which looks narrow. On the right… well, you only need to overlook the tallgrass to have a glimpse on the large open onsen with people soaking.

Nyuto Onsen Map
Map of Nyuto Onsen.

There goes the action.
I’m going to the right side, it goes without saying ^^

The Outside Mixed Onsen

This is the second time I sample an outside mixed onsen. I put a picture of the first one of its kind I visited at the end of the “Milky Way in Japan” article. I will way until I visit it again before making it into a complete article. Well, let’s see what this current one looks like.

Main stream at Nyuto Onsen
Main stream at Nyuto Onsen.

The setting is superb; the onsen is in between the vegetation, seemingly natural, like if it came out on a sunny day in this small paradise. Thus why this is a secret onsen: the onsen fans have a word for these unknown and hard-to-come-by baths: hitoh (秘湯). Of course, Nyuto is a first level hitoh bestowing its title in thanks of its idyllism and its peculiar charm.

Mixed Outdoor at Nyuto Onsen
Mixed Outdoor at Nyuto Onsen.

But wait! There is not a single chick in this onsen! What a rip off!

This spot is actually tackled by the aging locals who probably made the young and urban Japanese women shun; they want to avoid them. I then dare imagine that at night, these roles change… So it’s settled, I’ll go back, but this time, at night, let’s say!

Temple at Nyuto Onsen
Temple at Nyuto Onsen.

I have seen many pretty pictures showing the Nyuto onsen from above. I then venture on a small mountainous path on about one kilometer, which seems not going in the right direction and so I make my way back to the onsen. I then ask the towel shop attendant how to reach the place. In fact, I was on the right way but you need to climb 5 kilometers to reach the spot. A 10 km journey, so it’ll be for later too.

River next to Nyuto Onsen
Nice little river.

Let’s now uncover the ryokan which is 2-3 km from there.

Tsurunoyu Yamanoyado Ryokan

This ryokan is also part of the place described above. The baths uses the same source of water, at the difference that there is more rooms (with standard toilets) and the inn is located right inside the forest. It’s also very, very calm.

Tsurunoyu Ryokan
Tsurunoyu Ryokan.

Tsurunoyu Entrance
Tsurunoyu Entrance.

The lunch room is a 100% tatami room with each table comprising of an irori (traditional Japanese fireplace) in the middle of it: A genuine experience and very comfortable moments, with sake and local beer moreover!

Breakfast at Tsurunoyu
Breakfast at Tsurunoyu.

There are separated onsen, of course, but there is also family onsen: first come, first served. If the door is open, we can then enter and suddenly close its door to be peacefully alone with the “family”.

Male Onsen at Tsurunoyu
Male Onsen at Tsurunoyu.

I had no problem spending the evening and morning in this exterior onsen. It was always available, so happy! Generally, if we’re going a little late there is no one there. The Japanese are early-to-bed and early in the morning at the ryokan.

Mixed Onsen at Tsurunoyu
Mixed Onsen at Tsurunoyu.

You just discovered a beautiful onsen of Akita paired with a very pleasant ryokan. You now know what to do if you have the opportunity to pass by in this prefecture. For the next articles, what more would you like to discover in the onsen and ryokan, something specific? Also, don’t be shy to share your experiences.

Article translated by センチレール ミッチ.

  • Andrew

    Looks like a great place to relax. I remember when I was in Oman, they had a type of hotsprings there, but it was well above my comfort level temperature wise. I think it was over 130F?
    Do you know what temperature those onsen are?

    Also, will you be posting another blog of your trip up the mountain?

    • Unfortunately I don’t remember exactly the temperature at Nyuto. In Celsius, I would say it was probably more than 55. I remember it was too high for me to be really full-body in the water 🙂 No more articles about this area, I am afraid…

  • Matt Link Hudgens

    i just wish tattoos were allowed. maybe one day. guy can dream

    • It’s allowed in some of them… but not here. In Japan, people sometimes use patches to hide the tattoos temporarily, you could try.

      • Matt Link Hudgens


  • Nice place! I’ve never experienced anything like this. In Japan it seems to be a very common thing, but in Russia this kind of time-spending will be very “luxury”, “VIP” and too expensive for an ordinary citizen.


Who Am I

azalea, drone, flower, japan, japanese, kyushu, natural, nature, saga, spring

I am Jordy Meow, I am a French photographer living in Japan. My interest is to discover and share information about offbeat and lesser known locations for foreigners coming or living in Japan. I published books and now preparing new beautiful series of guidebooks.