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Mixed Bathing

Let All Get Naked!

Sukayu Onsen in Aomori
(Photo: JNTO)

The only downside to the onsen experience is the need for men and women to bath separately. It's sad to bid good-bye to loved ones, family members, or travel companions upon entering the baths. Ah, but there is an alternative mixed-bathing onsen where men, women and children bath together.

Certainly, onsen sites that require men to go one way and women the other are more common, but the number of onsen where mixed bathing takes place are numerous enough so that families, couples, and groups of all sort who choose to visit only mixed-bathing onsen will find that the options are many.

A list of mixed-bathing onsen follows.

Mixed Bathing Onsen

Located in what was once a private mansion, Hanaya is made up of some ten buildings connected by a web of enclosed pathways (almost hallways) that meander through the ryokan's vast gardens.

Kashiwaya Besso
Prominent Japanese authors such as Yasunari Kawabata, a Nobel Prize winner, and Naoya Shiga frequented this onsen and penned some of their masterpieces there.

Hoshi Onsen
One Japanese onsen journalist who regularly visits upwards of 200 onsen a year ranks Hoshi as the best in Japan.

The single most unique quality about this onsen is that you are joined in the hot springs with the area's wild monkeys. (No, we're not kidding.)

This onsen has 12 different baths, all located in a forest setting close to a river. And because the ryokan is run by a pharmacist, two of the baths are prepared with special herb mixtures that change daily.

Aoni Onsen
Although Aoni ryokan has been updated and fully wired, like lest of Japan, they kept the use of the oil lamps as main light system in ryokan. There is no light bulb in this ryhokan. When it gets dark outside, the warm lamp fires come up. The ryokna was originally started by a poet, Youga Niwa to cure his own ill in 1931. The ryokan reflects the artistic and peaceful mind of the poet.

Kita Onsen
The huge mixed outdoor bath, measuring 49 by 33 feet, is the main symbol of this onsen -- a little too small for swimming, but great for relaxation.

Turunoyu Onsen

Yu-Yado Miyakawa
One especially charming tradition at Yu-Yado Miyakawa is the fact that the outdoor bath will change from women-only to men-only to mixed-bathing depending on whoever is in the water. Here's how it works: Whoever goes to the outdoor bath will switch the small sign on a path to the bath to reflect whoever is bathing in the water -- men, women, or mixed. You never know what to expect.

Magoroku Onsen

Yachi Onsen

Kaniyu is famous of its three-story Japanese style building and large number of outdoor baths. Because there are so many baths (with many options for private bathing) and because of the water's close-to-white color, this ryokan is often the subject of TV and media coverage.

The ryokan is located in the upper part of town, so the views are especially good. Its huge outdoor pool is especially attractive, located among the trees.

Azumaya Ryokan

Sukayu Onsen Ryokan

Kuronagi Ryokan
The ryokan is located high in the Japan Alps making it a spectular site to visit but sometimes difficult to get to during the winter months.

Lamp no Yado

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