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Ito Onsen: a seaside onsen town adored by Japan’s cultural figures


UpdateJuly 27, 2021
ReleaseMay 1, 2021

Ito Onsen, located in Ito City, Shizuoka Prefecture on the eastern side of the Izu Peninsula, is a hot spring district particularly popular within the Kanto region. An easily accessible 90-minute bullet train ride away from Tokyo, the area is perhaps most noted for the quality of its hot springs. The water is a simple saline hot spring that is mild and easy on the skin, making it beloved by children and the elderly alike. It is said to be effective for rheumatism and injuries, as well as for recovery from illnesses. The water was even presented as a gift to the great Tokugawa Iemitsu, the third shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate in the mid-17th century. In more recent times, Ito is known to have captured the hearts of many politicians and cultural figures such as writers, artists, professors, etc. with its onsen and picturesque scenery.

Ito Onsen Tokaikan One place that carries on the history of Ito Onsen is “Tokaikan.” It was originally built as a hot spring ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) for the common people in 1928 and currently stands as a three-story wooden structure in the center of the Ito Onsen town. Although it no longer functions as an inn, it is known as one of the city’s many tourist facilities where visitors can take a tour inside its halls. The baths are also still open during the daytime (as of April 2021, the baths are closed for the Covid-19 preventive measures). Tokaikan is an exquisite Japanese-style building with elaborate features added by the architects, including the use of high-quality wood, henboku (warped wood), and other tasteful decors throughout the building.

Ito Onsen Tokaikan
Ito Onsen Tokaikan Spending time inside the large banquet hall is another way to experience traditional onsen culture.

Ito Onsen provides various types of accommodation including Japanese-style ryokan, resort hotels, guest houses, as well as popular onsen where you can submerge in a hot spring with a full ocean view. For those who want an even more expansive onsen experience, visiting the ten or so public sento baths dotted throughout the town is another great option. Most facilities pull water directly from the source without dilution, allowing visitors to enjoy hot springs of the best quality.

Ito Onsen Matsukawa Yuhodo @Ito Tourism Association

Facing the ocean, Ito boasts fresh and delicious seafood. There are a plethora of restaurants specializing in kaisendon (seafood bowls) and local dishes. Be sure to try out the cuisine, too, as you make your tour of onsen.

Ito Onsen Sea Photo:Shizuoka Prefectural Tourism Association

Ito Onsen Seafood There are many other outdoor sightseeing spots like Lake Ippeki, famous for its foliage of autumn leaves, and Mount Omuro, where people venture to see its volcanic crater. It’s safe to say that Ito Onsen is the place to visit for anyone looking to bask in history, nature, and hot springs all in one trip.

Ito Onsen @Ito Tourism Association

Tokyo Sta. -> 35-45 min by Tokaido Shinkansen -> Atami Sta. -> 20 min by JR Ito Line -> Ito Sta.

Ito Tourist Association

*The information herein is as of April 2021.