Misasa Onsen: A radium hot spring that soothes both body and soul

Misasa, a town located inland in central Tottori Prefecture, borders neighboring Okayama Prefecture to the south. A deep sense of peace and tranquility permeates the town, which is surrounded by mountains on three sides. Mt. Mitoku, said to be a sacred place of Mountain Buddhism since the 7th Century, rises majestically in the background. Truly, Misasa is a hot spring town rich in nature and history. This pilgrimage to Mt. Mitoku and the history and culture of Misasa Onsen, the base point of the pilgrimage, have been recognized as part of “Japan Heritage.”

The beginning of Misasa Onsen dates back to the 12th century, and it is said to have originated from the legend of the lone samurai and the white wolf. A samurai encountered an old white wolf and intended to shoot it with his bow. However, he changed his mind and allowed it to escape. That night, Bodhisattva, a Buddhist deity, appeared in his dreams and thanked him for sparing the life of the wolf. As a reward, Bodhisattva told him the location of a hot spring. “Kabu-yu,” the hot spring from which Misasa Onsen originated, is now a public bathhouse where anyone can use.

Misasa Onsen is also a place for pilgrims to cleanse their mind and body before ascending Mt. Mitoku. According to the doctrines of sacred mountain worship, one must first soak leisurely in a hot spring to heal the six senses – sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, and spirit. After which, it is said that ascending Mt. Mitoku and paying homage to the Buddhist temple there the next morning would purify one’s eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind – the six organs of sense.

Misasa Onsen is undeniably best known for its radium hot springs, among the most radon enriched in the world. Radon in its gaseous form, when inhaled, is said to have anti-aging effects and prevent lifestyle diseases. You can even drink the hot spring water. Soaking, breathing, and drinking, from within and without, one can surely feel the beneficial effects of this hot spring.

Misasa literally means “three mornings,” and thus it is said that if you bathe in the hot spring waters for three consecutive mornings, your woes will fade away as you welcome the third dawn. Enjoy the hot spring just as people did in the distant past and soothe your body and soul thrice over!

Misasa Onsen

The Mitoku River flows right in the middle of the hot spring district. In the summer, the resonating croaks of the Kajika frogs, combined with the light from the fireflies, create a dream-like scene. Koitani Bridge located upstream has a frog statue that symbolizes good luck for marriage and relationships. If you rub the statue, your romantic prospects could change for the better!

Kawara Hot Spring, located at the edge of the Mitoku River, is a mixed-bathing outdoor hot spring that is accessible 24-hours and is free-of-charge. It is a symbol of Misasa Onsen that is popular with the locals too.

Nageire-do, designated as a National Treasure of Japan, is said to be the one located at the most dangerous spot in the country. It is still not known how it was constructed on such a steep cliff.

From the editor “Radon Noodles,” a gourmet dry ramen dish from Misasa The springy textured noodles are steeped in pork bone broth flavored with soy sauce. It’s simply irresistible!

Access Haneda Airport → 1 hour 10 minutes by plane → Tottori Sand Dunes Conan Airport → 1 hour by limousine bus
URL https://misasaonsen.jp

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The information herein is as of January 2022
I am Hana, born and raised in the countryside in Okayama, a land of sunshine. After living in other countries, I came to realize how wonderful Japan is. Although I was very bad at history at school, I have recently become interested in Japanese history. I love visiting places in Japan while imagining the historical background of each place.

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