Hello, this is _hiroyuki.ta. This time, I toured from central Tokyo to Okuhida Onsenkyo on a Harley Sports Glide (FLSB). Okuhida Onsenkyo is a collective name for five hot spring resorts spread out at the foot of the Northern Alps, and is a spot where you can enjoy rich natural scenery and a variety of hot springs. This time, I would like to mainly introduce Shinhotaka Onsen.
What is Okuhida Onsenkyo?
Okuhida Onsenkyo is located in the northeastern part of Gifu Prefecture and consists of five hot spring areas: Hirayu Onsen, Fukuchi Onsen, Shin-Hirayu Onsen, Tochio Onsen, and Shinhotaka Onsen. It is popular with many tourists and alpinists as a Chubu-Sangaku National Park and national hot spring resort. Over 100 hot springs in Okuhida Onsenkyo gush out an abundance of hot springs with an average temperature of over 60℃, making it the third largest hot spring in Japan. At each hot spring facility, you can enjoy the hot springs to their fullest with luxurious “flowing water”. The quality and temperature of the hot springs vary, and there are four main types of hot springs:
simple springs,'' which are colorless and transparent,sulfur springs,” which have a sulfur smell unique to hot spring areas, and “hydrogen carbonate springs,” which are said to be good for beautiful skin. You can enjoy hot springs, chloride springs with excellent heat retention effects, and more. The colors range from colorless and transparent to brownish-brown, cloudy hot spring, and nightingale. Experience the breath of nature as the seasons change in this hot spring village that boasts one of the largest numbers of open-air baths in Japan.
Route to Okuhida Onsenkyo
The route to Okuhida Onsenkyo is to take the Chuo Expressway west from central Tokyo, enter Nagano Prefecture, and change to the Joshinetsu Expressway. Go north on Joshinetsu Expressway, get off at Nagano Interchange, and enter Nagano Road. Proceed west on Nagano Road, exit at Kiso-Fukushima Interchange, and enter National Route 19. Head south on National Route 19 into Gifu Prefecture, exit at Takayama Interchange, and enter the Tokai-Hokuriku Expressway. Go north on the Tokai-Hokuriku Expressway, exit at the Hirayu Interchange, and enter National Route 158. Proceed west on National Route 158 and arrive at Okuhida Onsenkyo, which starts at Hirayu Onsen between the Awa Tunnel and Hirayu Tunnel and ends at Tochio Onsen along National Route 471. If you go upstream from Tochio Onsen along the Kamata River, you will find Shinhotaka Onsen. The entire journey is about 450km and takes about 7 hours, taking into account breaks and traffic jams.
Highlights of Okuhida Onsenkyo
The highlight of Okuhida Onsenkyo is the hot springs. The most representative natural open-air hot spring in Shin-Hotaka Onsen is Shin-Hotaka-no-Yu, which was built on a rocky area on a riverbank. The bottom of the bathtub is lined with gravel, and the water is kept at a lukewarm temperature by pouring in river water. Women are also welcome to wear swimsuits, so women can feel safe. The view of the Northern Alps spreading out in front of you is breathtaking. We recommend Nakazaki Sanso Okuhida no Yu as a day trip hot spring facility where you can also enjoy meals. The open-air bath overlooking Mt. Kasagatake is a colorless and transparent sulfur spring, and there is also a drinking fountain. The restaurant offers a wide variety of menus using Hida’s specialty products such as Hida beef and Hoba miso. Higaku-no-Yu also has unusual charms such as an open-air bath with a view of Mt. Shikujo right in front of you, and one of the largest railway dioramas in Gifu Prefecture on display. We also recommend menus unique to Hida, such as local pickled steak and top-ranked Hida beef. At Okuhida Onsenkyo, you can enjoy not only hot springs but also nature and culture. At the Shin-Hotaka Ropeway, you can ride the famous Shin-Hotaka Ropeway, Japan’s only two-story gondola, and take a aerial stroll through the spectacular scenery of the Northern Alps. At the Shinhotaka Visitor Center, located just off Chuo Station, you can enjoy the view from the observation deck and the rooftop open-air bath. At Hida Great Limestone Cave, you can explore the highest limestone cave in Japan. You can see strangely shaped stalactites and underground lakes. Also, don’t miss the events held in Okuhida Onsenkyo each season. In winter, ice lanterns and ice sculptures created at temperatures below -20 degrees create a fantastic sight. From spring to autumn, there are events that let you interact with nature, such as picking wild vegetables and experiencing forest bathing. You can also enjoy local festivals and fireworks displays.
Motorcycle parking lot in Okuhida Onsengo
Okuhida Onsenkyo has many bike-friendly facilities. Motorcycle parking lots are available at each hot spring resort, either free of charge or for a fee. At Shin-Hotaka Onsen, there is a free motorcycle parking lot right next to Shin-Hotaka no Yu. Nakazaki Sanso Okuhida no Yu has a free motorcycle parking lot for day trip bathers. Shinhotaka Ropeway has a free motorcycle parking lot in front of Shinhotaka Onsen Station. There is a free motorcycle parking lot near the entrance of Hida Daistalactu Cave. Okuhida Onsenkyo also has accommodations that are popular with bikers.
This time, I toured from central Tokyo to Okuhida Onsenkyo on a Harley Sports Glide (FLSB). Okuhida Onsenkyo is a great touring spot where you can enjoy the magnificent nature of the Northern Alps and an abundance of hot springs. Although we have mainly introduced Shinhotaka Onsen, other hot spring areas each have their own unique characteristics. In addition to the hot springs, don’t miss sightseeing spots such as the ropeway and limestone caves, as well as seasonal events. There are plenty of comfortable facilities and services for motorcyclists. Please try a motorcycle trip to Okuhida Onsenkyo once.