Sukayu Onsen: The historic “fountain of healing above the clouds”
Sukayu is located 925 meters above sea level atop the refreshing highlands of the western base of Mount Odake, the main peak of the Hakkoda Mountains in Aomori Prefecture. Since it first opened in 1684, it has long been known as a healing hot spring frequented by locals. Its high elevation has given it the moniker “healing hot springs above the clouds.” Due to the healing qualities of the water and the clear air, the hot springs are said to have positive effects on all illnesses.
The water is an acidic sulfur spring. Because of its exceptional qualities and abundant flow of water, it was also designated as Japan’s “First National Health Onsen Resort” in 1954 among the myriad hot springs throughout the country.
The main attraction is the retro “Hiba Sennin Buro,” literally meaning a large bath room for 1,000 people. One step inside will reveal the bathing area built from Japanese cypress that resembles a massive, pillarless gymnasium. From the large main bath to the cascading hot spring waterfalls, there are four separate baths that each offer water from a different source. The bath is co-ed, although there is a designated time during the day for women bathers only (8:00-9:00 AM and 8:00-9:00 PM). Another bath at the facility is the “Tama no Yu,” which offers separate baths for men and women. Although it contains water from a source different from the Seninn Buro, it is nonetheless the same acidic sulfur spring. Both baths welcome drop-in guests.
The facility does not only offer lodging for overnight guests; there is also accommodation for the many long-term visitors who come to take advantage of the healing hot springs. Sukayu Onsen was also beloved by woodblock printmaker Shiko Munakata, who is said to have carved his prints while rejuvenating at the hot springs.
After resting at the onsen, it is also recommended to explore the great outdoors. You can freely visit the Hakkoda Mountain Garden of the Tohoku University Botanical Gardens, which houses approximately 600 species of Hakkoda’s precious alpine plants.
Another popular spot is Manju-fukashi, a steam bath only a ten-minute walk away from Sukayu Onsen. You can warm up your body just by sitting on the heated wooden bench. “Manju” means “woman” in the local Tsugaru dialect of this area, and as the steam bath will warm your body from the core, it is lauded as the bath of fertility and youth.
Why not enjoy your next vacation at Sukayu Onsen, the retro hot spring resort that will relieve your body of all the stresses of daily life?
Tokyo Sta. -> 200 min by Tohoku Shinkansen -> Shin-Aomori Sta. -> 80 min by JR bus Tohoku -> Sukayu Onsen
Sukayu Onsen Ryokan
*The information herein is as of May 2021.