Residence Yasushi

In-House Onsen

Japan’s onsen (thermal hot spring) tradition dates back thousands of years. Since the Edo Period, Nozawaonsen has been renowned for its thermal baths. Both a luxury and daily necessity, local hot springs serve the villagers as baths as well as sources of hot water for cooking.

Our private thermal onsen baths are fed with the highly valued Shinyu waters. The prized milky hues of the water evolve depending on the season and are known locally as ‘five colours water”. Our onsen waters are rich in various minerals, abundent with the highly sought-after floating yunohana (mineral water flowers), and especially beneficial to our overall well-being and health. Shinyu waters are recommended for skin and other conditions.

Our onsens are available “kashikiri” for private use, though during peak occupancy periods, the onsens will be reserved for common use by all guests (usually from 4-6pm). During these periods, you will see signs outside designating each onsen for Male/Female use.

Residence Yasushi has gained “gensen kakenagashi” status for its onsen. This is a protected nomenclature, and is the gold standard for onsens in Japan; there is no higher. 

Private Onsen | Residence Yasushi in Nozawaonsen
Onsen | Residence Yasushi, Nozawaonsen, Japan
Our Onsen | Residence Yasushi, Nozawaonsen, Japan

Onsen Bathing Etiquette

Onsen bathing etiquette is all about maintaining the utmost respect for hygiene and everyone’s comfort. Here are some pointers:
  1. Bring your towel and soap but for your own peace of mind, don’t bring anything valuable with you. You may go in our yukata and haori jacket. Do use the bags provided to bring your things with you.
  2. All soto-yu have separate male 男 and female 女 baths. Enter the appropriate bath, remove all your clothes and store them neatly in the clothes boxes provided. Leave your large towel there too. Unless there is absolutely nobody else in the bath, leave your phone/camera behind!!
  3. You may however, bring a small wash towel to the washing area. Wash yourself well before you enter the bath.
  4. Use the basins provided to scoop up the onsen water (dilute it with the cold tap water as desired) and pour that over your body. When you are done, you may enter the bath.
  5. Get in slowly, do not splash or talk loudly. You may put your wash towel on your head to keep your head cool, or leave it to the side of the bath.
  6. Bathing is a respite from the hustle of the day. Quiet conversation is acceptable but boisterous behaviour would be frowned on.
  7. As the thermal waters are meant to be beneficial, there is no need to shower again after your soak!!
  8. Note that in the not too distant past, tattoos were associated with yakuzas, and people with tattoos were not welcome into these public spaces. That has changed a lot today - although you might still find some older folks eyeing your tattoos up warily; so don’t be offended if that happens!!

Public Onsens (Soto-yu)

You can also experience Nozawaonsen's public onsen baths. We’ve been asked many times about the public onsen near us so will highlight our closest and favourite soto-yu below. Further information may be found here.


Our nearest is the charming ShinYu-no-yu. It’s just two doors down from us. Rebuilt and reopened in December 2006, ShinYu resembles a mini O-yu (Nozawaonsen’s largest soto-yu). ⠀  

ShinYu is one of the most sought-after public onsens here as the milky waters (from the same source as our two private onsens) are believed to be very good for your skin. The waters, at around 55 degrees C, are also recommended for rheumatic illnesses, diabetes and acne. Like all natural flows, the temperature varies and the colour of the water can be whiter or greener depending on the time of year and climate. ⠀
There’s a steady stream of bathers holding out maps who stream past our front door on their way there. They too have heard that bathing at ShinYu will give you a peachy complexion. ⠀
If you wonder how the public baths are kept so clean and tidy, it is because people who use it tend to be very good at clearing up after themselves. But very importantly too, the local community keeps it cleaned. Together with our neighbours, we take turns scrubbing it down every week. 


Legend has it that Kumanoteara-yu is the original hot spring discovered here. A bear (熊 kuma) was followed by a hunter bathed here. The hunter observed the bear washing his injured paw (手洗teara), seemingly finding relief.⠀So it may well be thanks to this bear that the rural community here became known as Yuyama (湯山村 literally, hot spring mountain village) during the Kamakura period (1185-1333); a precursor to the fame Nozawaonsen would develop for our onsens during the Edo period. 
The waters in this historic bath are a low to mid 40 degrees C - so not as hot as some of the others. They are clear, can smell rather sulphuric and naturally, are supposed to be healing (you can even find bottles of Kumanoteara water for sale in some of the shops!). 
There are cooking boxes outside if you fancy cooking your eggs (about 15minutes) while you have your bath. If you do, you can buy your eggs and cooking bag at the Yamazaki supermarket - or ask to borrow a bag at the front desk!!


Halfway down the little road between Residence Yasushi and Kumanoteara-yu, you’ll find Kamitera-no-yu.⠀This soto-yu was rebuilt about thirty years ago and features a clean changing room. Its waters are considered particularly good for healing skin lesions. Locals believe coming and soaking when you have cuts or burns or other skin lesions is specially beneficial. Any cooks who have had minor accidents preparing meals this week come on over!! These waters are fed off streams issuing from Asagama, and tend to look bluish green and quite hot - high 50 degrees C.


You can combine a visit here with a meal at Akebitei - a homey okonomiyaki restaurant that’s literally just around the corner. ⠀


Asagama-no-yu, is at the bottom of Asagama street (close to the star junction by the lovely Sankyu handicraft shop). ⠀
It is an old bathhouse which looks a little tired but still charming and full of interesting unique features. For one, check out the community laundry at the back!⠀The waters here are really hot as and you might find more white floating yunohana (onsen flowers) particles here too. Yunohana are minerals that do not dissolve easily and are much prized as natural salts which can promote beautiful skin! Stroll up Asagama and admire the old ryokans that line it. Stop by the ancient drinking holes and sweet shops for a restorative something.

Warning: At the top of the road, you’ll see the steam rising from outdoor pools. This is not a bath! Do NOT mix Asagama-no-yu at the bottom of the hill up with the Ogama cooking onsens at the top of Asagama street. These cooking onsens are off limits to visitors; the waters are near boiling - some 90 degrees C!! Dangerous!! Only villagers are allowed to approach them. 


Kawahara-no-yu is just downhill towards Residence Yasushi from the majestic O-yu.⠀
It’s traditional architecture belies a relatively recent construction.⠀
Smaller and more intimate than O-yu, Kawahara-no-yu is fed with similar waters. Clear, very hot (close to 60 degrees C) and said to be good for curing skin ailments. ⠀
We recommend heading uphill and stopping by Haus St. Anton on the main Oyu-dori shopping street for one of their amazing gelato-style ice creams! All in fabulous local flavours that will hit the spot when you’re well soaked and all steamed up!!


O-yu dominates the centre of Nozawaonsen as the iconic landmark.  It is the largest soto-yu and most would agree, the grandest. As with all the public baths, enjoying that grandeur in the company of other bathers. O-yu is popular!! (It is only in our in-house onsen that you will find truly private “kashikiri” use.)
Ample clothes boxes line the dressing area while soaring ceilings give a sense of space that is unique and special in this beautiful, elegant bath house.  There are, singularly, two baths - one cooler than the other. Quite necessary as the waters at O-yu are especially hot - at 60 degrees C or more. O-yu is literally “hot water”!! For the onsen afficionado, O-Yu’s waters relax tired, aching muscles.  Stress and tension will literally be melted away!⠀And while you luxuriate in your soak, lie back and marvel at the pared-down refinement of an architectural style that has stood the test of centuries. 


Taki-no-yu onsen is the highest public soto-yu in Nozawaonsen. Situated a short walk uphill from the Ogama cooking onsen, Taki-no-yu is a local secret and our favourite near Himecho.
The baths here are deeper than normal and a really lovely comfortable temperature for those who don’t like their baths near scalding!! This bath is off the beaten path and generally quieter. We’ve often had it to ourselves...
For the cognoscenti, the black yunohana floating in the waters here are one reason to make the trek up. Another is the fabulous views you get over the valley from the entrance!!



We look forward to seeing you soon at 

Residence Yasushi


8853-1 Toyosato,
Shimotakai District,
Nagano Prefecture
389-2502, Japan