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Updated:August 31, 2016

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Hot springs

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Paint in your mind the picture of a quiet hot spring village. The scene shifts to a secret hot spring nestled along a steep ravine, then to Takeda Shingen’s hidden hot springs. It is the stuff of legend and romance.

For the most part, hot springs are created when snow and rain sink into the mountain and flow into streams of underground water. Warmed by geothermic heat and then cooled, the water gushes forth from the earth. Being a country located in a volcanic zone, Japan has more than 2,000 hot spring sources; and Yamanashi, as a prefecture surrounded by mountains, is blessed with a treasure trove of its own. After a relaxing hot bath, delighting in a meal garnished with fresh mountain vegetables is nothing short of bliss.

From ancient days, hot springs were considered to be the source of good health. On the journey from deep underground to the surface of the earth, the water passes through long tunnels of rock, from which core elements melt into the water. Depending on the composition of these integrated elements, the hot springs can be used for various medicinal effects.  

Of Yamanashi’s most famous hot springs, one can easily name Yumura Onsen, which is located near Shosenkyo Gorge, and the radium-rich Masutomi Onsen. Tucked into a quiet, mountain enclave is Nishiyama Onsen. Then there is Shimobe Onsen, also known as Takeda Shingen’s hidden hot springs, where the legendary warlord would recover between battles. Larger hot spring towns like Isawa Onsen offer modern spa facilities for the weary traveler to enjoy. Many people from within Japan and abroad come to Yamanashi to enjoy this luxurious delight.

Yumura Hot Spring Resort (Kofu City) 

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Yumura hot springs, close to the Shosenkyo Ravine, has flourished over the years and holds the longest history among Yamanashi hot springs. Legend has it that this spring first gushed forth from an impression in the ground made by the walking stick of Kobo-Daishi, a famous Buddhist priest of yore.

Contents: Chlorine 107-125o F

Masutomi Hot Spring Resort (Hokuto City) 

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Masutomi Hot Spring Resort is famous for its high content of radium. There are three ways to take in the springs: bathing in the water, drinking the water, or inhaling the steam. Legend says that Lord Shingen happened to discover this spring when he was excavating a gold mine.

Contents: Radium 97o F

Nishiyama Hot Spring Resort (Hayakawa Town) 

One of the hidden hot springs of Lord Shingen, Nishiyama Hot Spring Resort is located at the foot of the Minami Alps near the source of the Hayakawa River. Legend says that it was also visited by Ieyasu Tokugawa, a famous Shogun of the 17th Century. Its unspoiled surroundings have made this one of the most popular hot springs in Yamanashi.

Contents: Sulfate, Chlorine 106-111o F

Shimobe Hot Spring Resort (Minobu Town) 

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According to legend, Shimobe Hot Spring offered relief to Shingen after his shoulder was injured in battle. The lukewarm water of this hot spring has a healing effect on fractures and bruises, and many people visit to recuperate from their ills.

Contents: Pure hot spring 81-93o F

Isawa Hot Spring Resort (Fuefuki City) 

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The Isawa hot spring flowed forth suddenly from a vineyard in 1961, which is why it is known as the "Hot Spring of the Vineyard." With approximately 150 hotels and Japanese style ryokan inns, it is the biggest hot spring resort in Yamanashi.

Contents: Pure hot spring 113-140o F

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