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Shin-Hotaka Onsen

Shin-Hotaka Onsen in Gifu prefecture. THIS IS NOT THE FREE HOT SPRING!Shin-Hotaka onsen is a free, open air, and mixed hot spring in the northern alps.
It is a little rock bath almost hidden under a bridge squeezed in between a cliff and a river. The water is not too hot nor too deep.

There are separate dressing rooms for men and woman, but usually people get in the hot spring in swimming suits.

Map of Gifu prefectureIf you come from Matsumoto, take route 158 to the other side of the northern alps. After passing Anbo pass it will go down towards Hirayu onsen. From Hirayu onsen take the road north towards Tochio onsen. Here take the road leading east to Shin-Hotaka onsen. If I remember right, you will be driving on the left side of the river, and at some point you will come to a bridge taking you to the right side of the river. The free Shin-Hotaka onsen is under this bridge.

My friend and I had been looking for this hot spring all day long, and had gotten in to some of the one's we found under way. When we finally got to Shin-Hotaka onsen, it was already dark. We had already passed the hot spring one time earlier, but since it is hidden under a bridge, we had not found it.

We parked the car at a nearby parking lot where there were already a lot of cars and people were getting ready to spend the night. We walked the last way to the hot spring and could now hear the people who were already in. There were quite a lot of people, both men, woman, and children. We went in the little shelter and undressed. We got in the hot spring wearing only our small towels and enjoyed the water. While we were there more people got in. Some girls got in wrapped a couple of times in huge towels, while some people got in in their swim suits. It was a mixed hot spring in many ways.

After having had enough of Shin-Hotaka onsen, we finally left and went back to the car. We did not feel like sleeping at the parking lot next to everyone else, so we went a little back up the road where we found an open space, and spend the night there.

Other visitors comments and adventures:

Hi Jens,
I enjoyed reading about your onsen adventures. One of my favorite areas is the Shinhodaka area in Gifu. There are 3 public rotenburo in that valley besides the one you talked about.

The first is at the entrance to the valley. When you come to that valley from Hirayu onsen/Matusmoto direction you cross a river and then turn right on the road which takes you up the Shinhodaka valley. Right after you turn right (500 meters) there is a parking lot on the right with a public rotenburo (actually there is a charge (100yen?)). But last time I was there (last year) it was closed. By the way if you turn left after crossing the brideg and go the other way after about 1 km there is a nice onsen campground but usually full.

Going up the valley you will eventually drive through a new tunnel. Immediately after you come out of the tunnel on the left there is a free public rotenburo.

The final one is the best in my estimation. Drive further up the valley past the rotenburo you talked about and you will come to a section of the road that passes under a concrete avalanche shelter. Halfway through this shelterd section of the road there is a turnout to the left. There is a large parking lot upstream from turnout and on the otherside of the river is a private rotenburo (500yen) that is not too bad which you can access by a foot bridge. This is not the place. After you park your vehicle stay on the road side of the river and walk downstream about 100 m from the foot bridge you will see a little path leading down to a small wooden building. Bingo! Ther is a small changing room and two unsegregated pools near the river. No sign, no name, no people, enjoy! At the end of the valley a few km above this onsen there is a campground across the river fronm the ropeway. The college student working at the campground told me about this place. I guess it is supposed to be for the locals use. But everytime I go there it is empty. There is also a free sento in right next to a large bus parking lot near the ropeway, but this tends to get kind of dirty as it is used alot by hikers coming off the mountain.

I have also been to Ki Hanto and Hokkaido. Aren't Onsen Great!


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