Japan has 10% of the world’s active volcanoes (over 100) and thanks to that,
we have a lot of high-quality Onsen, or hot springs.
Among a lot of great Onsen, Gero in Gifu, Arima in Hyogo,
and Kusatsu in Gunma are considered as 3 major Onsen areas.
This time I wrote about Gero, which is close to Takayama city where I live now.
The area has a lot of nature and a popular resort for both foreign and Japanese tourists.
Onsen has been used as a cure for disease and pain for over centuries in Japan.
It is said that various minerals penetrate the body and promote hormone selection resulting the restoration.
Gero’s Onsen is high in Alkaline (ph 9.2) and it makes your skin smooth and great for your relaxation and prevention of aging.
It is good for most people, but if you are a pregnant, have some kind of skin problem,
or heart disease, you should refrain from soaking.
Those who have sensitive body can still enjoy Ashiyu (foot bath) in Gero.
There are 8 free foot baths in the area.
It might be the best to use a car to get around in Gero because you need to walk up to visit some places, but Gero is a compact city and you can enjoy just by walking.
Here are 5 things to visit/try in Gero.
Go to Onsen (Hot springs)
Go to Onsen is of course the best thing to do in the area.
There are a lot of places to enjoy Onsen.
It is a free, open-air hot spring that is right next to the river.
It is a gender mixed bath, and you need to wear bathing suits to enter the bath.
Shirasagi no Yu
You can enjoy the view of the river and mountains while enjoying the bath here.
This place does not have an open-air bath, but one of the most visited and loved Onsen in the area.
Hours: 10:00 to 22:00 (closed on Wed)
It is a popular Ryokan (Japanese Inn) with Onsen.
It has a very nice atmosphere and what is unique about their bath is that there are tatami around the bath.
Hours for visitors: 12:00 to 20:00 (13:00 to 20:00 on Wed and Thu)
It is a Ryokan that has an open air bath with a great view of the surrounding mountains.
This place might be the best in terms of enjoying the view!
Hours for visitors: 18:00 to 20:00
This 4 star Ryokan has great open-air baths and the building itself is registered as an important cultural building of Japan.
It is right behind Onsen ji and you need to walk up a bit to get there and a use of bath for a visitor is limited from 13:00 to 14:00 , but it really is worth visiting!
Hours for visitors: 13:00 to 14:00
These are just major places and there are lot more Onsen to check!
Gero Onsen Festival is held annually on August 1st to 4th.
You can enjoy watching a sacred dragon dance performance called
Ryujin-no-Mai during the festival.
Yumeguri Tegata, or a wooden spa pass tablet is available at the tourist office, souvenir shops, convenience stores, and ryokan.
It is 1,300 yen and can be used for 6 months.
With it, you can visit any three of 30 participating ryokan.
Pray at Onsen ji
It is the most important temple for locals with a famous legend of a white heron.
Up until 1265, Mt Yugamine(a mountain on the east of Gero) was active and people in Gero enjoyed Onsen.
One day it suddenly stopped producing Onsen (probably due to the earthquake).
People were very disappointed and lost what to do.
Next year, a villager found a white heron came to the same place everyday.
The villager wondered why.
He went to see the bird and followed where it went.
Then, the heron pointed out a place where new hot spring was.
Villagers were very thankful and believed that Nyorai (a buddhist figure of the highest degree of respect) turned into the white heron to help villagers.
Later, to worship Nyorai, Onsen ji Temple was built.
Just in front of the temple, there is a statue called Yukake yakushi Nyorai.
It is a statue of Nyorai, with hot spring around.
It is believed that if you pour hot spring to the body of Nyorai where you (your body) need a healing, your pain and disease will go away.
Near the Nyorai statue, there’s a small building where Saruya no ishi (Saruya’s stone) is enshrined.
Saruya was a monkey that villagers petted to get mice away.
When Saruya passed away, a round stone was found near its grave.
People believe that still after its death, Saruya turned itself to a stone to protect the area.
Learn at Gero Museum of Hot spring
It is a museum near Onsen ji.
You can learn about hot spring from the view of both science and history.
It has a lot of information about Onsen in Gero and other hot springs in Japan.
There are 5 sections inside: Welcome to Gero Onsen, Science of Hot spring, History of Hot spring, Libraly, and Onsen try out where you can try some experiments like checking the minerals inside of hot spring in a bottle.
There’s a foot bath right in front of the museum where you can walk inside to relax.
Gero Museum of Hot spring
Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (closed on Thu)
Eat Onsen Tamago
Onsen Tamago is a soft-boiled egg prepared in hot spring and it is a popular food in Gero Onsen area.
There’s a store place called Ayumi-ya where you can try this egg while enjoying foot bath.
They also sell Onsen Tamago ice cream and pudding!
Visit Gero Onsen Gassho Mura
This is an open-air museum of traditional style houses (called Gassho style. More about this, check Shirakawa-go).
It also has a museum of Enku, a great carver who made more than ten thousand of wooden Buddhist statues.
There are also souvenir stores as well as a place to try making potteries.
Gero Onsen Gassho Mura
Hours: 8:30 to 17:00
In Gero, there are places called Onsen stands.
Just like a gas station, Gero citizens can bring their tanks and take Onsen from an Onsen stand for private use.
This city really is full of Onsen!
Take Tokaido Shinkansen to Nagoya, and then take Wide View Hida express to Gero.
(Time:About 3 to 4 hours Price: 12,890 yen for oneway)
Take Wide View Hida express to Gero
(Time:About 2 hours Price: 4,100 yen for oneway)
What do people in your country do to relax/get rid of stress?
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See you next time!