Until recently, I myself had never heard of the quaint town known as Yumura Onsen, but if you’re heading to the world-famous Kinosaki Onsen, it’s definitely worth dropping by for a stay. Located in northwestern region of Hyogo Prefecture, this secluded gem sits on the San’in coastline, and borders Tottori Prefecture on the left. With a modest and personalised atmosphere and a few delightful quirks, you may find you enjoy it more than the now slightly-touristy onsen brother. Here are 5 interesting facts about Yumura Onsen to get you started.
SKIP TO: How to get there | Where to stay
1. Yumura Onsen = Tokyo Disneyland?!
Yumura is a very compact town that can be explored entirely on foot. In fact, the radius of the town at 400m is the same as Tokyo Disneyland. The reasoning for this that 800m is the distance that most people can comfortably cover by walking. And just like there’s a Cinderella Castle in the middle of Tokyo Disneyland, in the middle of Yumura Onsen bubbles a 98 degree celcius hot spring source known as “Arayu Onsen”.
2. Yumura is full of hearts!
In order to provide visitors with a bit of fun, the Yumura Tourist Centre has established a scavenger hunt type game called 「ゆうむらで幸せの隠れハートを探せ！」 which translates to “Find the Hidden Hearts of Happiness in Yumura!” Within the town, there are currently 120 heart-shapes that appear on natural and everyday objects. If you find 5, take a picture of each as proof and show it to the staff at the Tourist Information Centre, you can receive a gift (a Yumura-exclusive towel). If you find all 120, you get to name one of the hearts!
3. There are 63 natural hot spring sources in Yumura
There are 63 natural hot spring sources in Yumura, making up a total of 2100 litres every minute, or 3000 tons/day. 1200 years ago, hot water bubbled forth naturally even without having to dig. The active components in the water here are:
- Sodium hydrogen carbonate – a natural detergent to clean
- Chloride – for a glowing complexion
- Sulfate – helps maintain moisture for smoothness
Combined, they give the hot springs the reputation of being great for beauty treatment.
4. All households in Yumura enjoy free-flowing hot spring water from their taps
All of the 505 properties in Yumura, including households, ryokan and hotels, enjoy free-flowing hot spring water from their taps. Near the front door of some houses, there are two spouts – one for normal water, and one for hot spring water.
5. At Yumura, onsen water is used for everything
Different to the hot spring water in Kinosaki, the water here is also drinkable. (However, at almost boiling temperatures you better blow on it first!) This means that the residences here quite literally use hot spring water for everything – from doing the dishes, laundry, beauty treatments to cooking, making sweets and even generating electricity.
We were given a live demonstration of “here’s one we prepared earlier”, where they had steamed a can of condensed milk with the hot spring water to create caramel. The “onsen tamago” (egg boiled in hot spring water) was also delicious.
How to Get There
Given the secluded nature of this town, it follows that it is not the easiest to reach via public transport. Renting a car will probably be the most convenient. However, make the effort to get to this charming town, and you will be rewarded with one of the best hot spring experiences still unknown to many!
By train: From Osaka/Kobe/Himeji, take the Limited Express Hamakaze to JR Hamasaka Station (2.5-4 hours depending on departure station). From there, it takes 30 minutes to get to Yumura Onsen by bus or taxi.
From Kyoto, take the Kimited Express Kinosaki to Kinosaki Onsen. From there transfer to the local Sanin Main Line to JR Hamasaka Station (60 minutes).
By bus: Express buses run from Osaka and Kobe several times a day. The trip takes between 3-3.5 hours one-way.
By plane: To make a beeline for Yumura Onsen from Tokyo, it is quicker to take a flight to Tottori Airport in the neighbouring prefecture and then take a bus or train from there (around 45 minutes), rather than fly to Kobe or Osaka.
Where to Stay
As mentioned, all properties in Yumura have hot spring water free-flowing from their taps. So even if you don’t want to gander down to the public baths, the shower in your room should let you experience the mineral-filled water. You can also expect top class omotenashi and Japanese fine dining during your stay.