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Osaru-yu in Hokkaido. Osaru-yu is a free, open air, and mixed hot spring.
The water is clear, and as far as I remember nice and hot. There is one little rock bath located right next to a little river. The bath itself is almost hidden by the river bank, so it may be a little difficult to find, but on the other hand, you won't be visible from the road.
Since Osaru-yu is a very natural hot spring, there are no luxury like shelters to undress in and put one's clothes. If you want to get in, you will have to strip down next to the bath.
Map of Hokkaido. There are no signs saying "Osaru-yu this way", so it may be a little difficult to find, but still not near as difficult as Kunbetsu onsen or other more hidden hot springs.
>From lake Toya take route 453 north-east towards Ohtaki village and Bankei onsen. When you get to Bankei onsen, which is a tiny village with two inns, you are basically there. If you are going north-east towards Ohtaki village, as I just described, you will find a large clear spot on your right, from where you will aslo be able to see the little river. Park here and look around, and you will find Osaru-yu!

My friend Stig and I had spend most of the day at lake Toya visiting the volcano museum and eating ramen. In the late afternoon we decided to see if we could find osaru-yu, which supposedly is located near by. It took us a little while to find the right road, by we eventually made it to Bankei onsen, where Osaru-yu also should be located. We parked the car and looked around, and we saw something looking like clothes lying around in the tall grass on the river bank a little away from the parking lot. Suddenly a naked girl stood up, so we knew we had found the hot spring. We politely waited untill the family who was in the hot spring was finished before we got in. We got out of our clothes and into the hot spring, and it was nice getting in the hot water and just sitting there relaxing watching the sun go down.

Stig had just arrived in Japan a few days earlier, and Osaru-yu was only his second hot spring, so he wasn't used to just sitting in the hot water soaking yet. Being a real viking, he had to cool down now and then in the cool stream next to the hot spring. Originally being a viking myself I joined him and learned something new about how to enjoy hot springs.

Stig and I were lying there next to each other in the cool stream next to the hot spring talking, when he suddenly said "Auch. What was that?", and touched his behind to find out what it was. "Something bit me", he said. "Oh come on Stig, you probably just sat on a sharp rock", I replied just as something bit me in my behind. I jumped out of the stream saying "I think you are right, something just bit me too!". Good thing we weren't lying on our stomacs. No knowing what part of us would have been bitten then....

Since the unknown creatures in the cool stream weren't too friendly, we abandoned the stream and soaked a little more in the hot spring before going back to lake Toya.

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