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Tokyo weekend getaway: Iizaka hot springs

Iizaka Onsen hotels by the river
Iizaka Onsen hotels by the river
Brian Adler

Japan is famous for its natural hot springs, known in Japanese as onsen. A great onsen town just two hours' travel from Tokyo is Iizaka. Located in Fukushima on the , Iizaka can be reached by train. The Iizaka Onsen station drops passengers off right in the middle of downtown Iizaka. There are dozens of onsen hotels with Japanese-style public bathhouse. 

Upon entry to an onsen hotel, you should remove your shoes as is Japanese custom. Booking a Japanese-style room rather than a Western-style room gives a more authentic experience. In a Japanese-style room you will find a straw mat on the floor and a futon mattress rolled up against the wall. At night, your mattress is unrolled on top of the straw mat. In a Western-style room, you will find beds instead. 

Many hotels in Iizaka have their own private onsen baths on site, but you can also visit the oldest communal bath in town - Sabako-yu Onsen. Although the building you will see today was built in the 1990s, it is a replica of the bathhouse that occupied the same place since the 19th century. Traditional bathhouses are made made of wood, and many have open baths with riverside views. 

Learn more:

Iizaka Onsen

Places to stay:

Shin-Matsubu Ryokan

Hotel Juraku (site in Japanese)

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