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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Exploring the Serene Wellness Culture of Toyama and Gifu, Japan

When the hustle and bustle gets to be too much and you need an escape from your everyday life, take a trip to Japan! Rest and recharge in the healing, mineral-enriched waters of its various spas right before the rush of the holiday season. Wellness is deeply rooted in Japan’s culture such that onsens or hot spring baths are available all over! 


While there are popular spots for onsens like Hakone that get a lot of attention, some travellers might be looking for a true escape from everything. When it comes to wellness, these choices in Toyama and Gifu prefectures each have their own unique charm.


Getting to Toyama and Gifu is easier than ever! These prefectures are located in the Chubu region. Often referred to as the "Heart of Japan," the Chubu region is known for its stunning natural landscapes, including the iconic Japanese Alps that stretch across both Toyama and Gifu prefectures. This region also serves as a vital transportation hub, connecting major cities like Tokyo and Osaka through its extensive network of highways and railways.


Toyama is connected to Tokyo via the JR Hokuriku Shinkansen. It will take around 2 hours and costs approximately 12,500 yen or approximately PhP 4,800. It’s fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass and Hokuriku Arch Pass. Gifu on the other hand is easily accessible by JR Tokaido Shinkansen from Tokyo, Osaka, and NagoyaHere are some excellent choices for a getaway:


Toyama Prefecture


Toyama is a seaside prefecture in Japan and is home to some of the most private and picturesque onsens in the country. Toyama’s spas are ideal if you are seeking tranquil contemplation and quiet.

  1. Unazuki Onsen


Unazuki Onsen is on the way to Japan’s tallest dam, the Kurobe Dam. To get to the dam, you will need to take a scenic train ride into the lushly forested gorge. Unazuki is at one of the first stops on the line. The view is beautiful and you can also taste locally brewed beer made with water from Kurobe.


  1. Himi Hot Spring Village


Himi Hot Spring Village is a coastal town where you can see the Tateyama mountain range in the distance, almost as if it's floating on the bay. Here, you can enjoy fresh seafood while also relaxing in the “spa of beauty” which will rejuvenate your body.


  1. Omaki Hot Spring


Omaki Hot Spring is the perfect hidden gem if you truly want to get away from it all. Only accessible by boat, this unique isolated resort is rustic and surrounded by woods. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a tanuki–a Japanese raccoon dog.


Gifu Prefecture


Most people looking for traditional Japanese architecture and historical sites will think of Kyoto, but awaiting discovery is Gifu, an area steeped in tradition. Great warlords have fought over this land and their battles have forged the paths of Japanese history. 


Gifu is tucked away in the scenic Japanese Alps. There are several onsens to choose from in this area with a wide range of experiences for curious travellers.


  1. Gero Onsen


At Gero Onsen, the alkaline water is good for blood circulation and battling fatigue, and also leaves your skin silky smooth. Gero has unique architecture and charming streets. It’s a great addition to your Instagram stories, especially at night when the lights come on. 


  1. Yamashiro Onsen


Yamashiro Onsen is a hot spring town with public bathhouses. The water here is good for the joints, skin disease, and digestion problems. Be sure not to miss the “ko-soyu” or the “old public bathhouse”. It's a Meiji period-style building and is a popular draw.


  1. Okuhida Onsen 


Okuhida is actually a collection of over a hundred open-air pools. It’s located in the Japanese Alps so the view is gorgeous. Also, the town comes alive in the winter with folk festivals and ice shows so the colder months are the ideal time to visit.


If you are coming to Japan for a dose of traditional wellness, then consider staying at a RyokanRyokans are inns that provide a true Japanese experience. They feature old-fashioned accommodations meaning sleeping on tatami mats and feasting on a meticulously prepared, multi-course kaiseki dinner. It’s an experience you can’t get anywhere else.


The daily grind can be a lot to deal with, especially as we get to the busy “ber-months”, but if you pause once in a while, it becomes much easier to find motivation. Take a break and re-center yourself while also rejuvenating your body in a Japanese onsen. Any of these recommendations could be your ideal place to recharge with a taste of wellness.


For more downloadable photos and videos of Japan's beautiful and exciting tourist attractions, you may visit the Japan Online Media Center (JOMC) ( 

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