Shima Onsen (“Onsen” meaning “hot spring”) is a hot spring town with forty-two sources of water. Onsen lovers will be satisfied as they enjoy the abundant hot spring here.
Japan is famous as one of the best countries in the world for hot spring. Hot springs in Japan have a long history; people have been enjoying them since the dawn of time! They are described in a book called Kojiki, or The Records of Ancient Matters, which is the oldest known history book in Japan, compiled in 700’s AD.
Since then, hot springs have been well-loved in this country and now, 130 million people go on hot spring trips annually.
Gunma Prefecture, where Shima Onsen is located, is a prefecture that is especially famous for its many hot springs. There are over 100 hot springs and 450 sources (places where hot water springs up from the ground) in Gunma alone.
Shima Onsen is the place for the onsen lovers.
Shima Onsen is well-known for its hot spring resort with a copious amount of natural water, which has forty-two sources within an area of about three kilometres, north to south.
The total amount of hot spring water reaches 3,500 litres per minute.
This amount is much enough to fill up the gas tanks of 4,200 small cars every hour!
It’s a huge amount of water that has been constantly flowing there since ancient times.
The biggest feature of these hot springs in Shima Onsen is that thirty-nine out of forty-two of the hot springs are completely natural. They come from the ground without the use of any artificial power such as drilling or pumps. It is additionally interesting to note that most of these forty-two springs are privately owned.
The places where the hot spring water comes out naturally in Shima Onsen are largely located in three areas: Yamaguchi, Arayu, and Hinatami. The quality and temperature of these natural springs vary slightly.
The temperature of the hot spring in the Yamaguchi area, which is the southernmost of the three, is around sixty degrees Celsius. The spring quality is a sodium-calcium chloride sulphate spring, containing a balance of sodium chloride and calcium chloride.
The hottest spring among the three areas is in the Arayu area, located in the middle of Shima Onsen. It exceeds seventy-five degrees Celsius.
The quality of the spring is the same as that of the Yamaguchi area.
The spring quality in the northernmost Hinatami district contains more calcium than sodium and the water in the area reaches around fifty degrees Celsius.
The spring water is called “bihada-no-yu,” meaning water for beautiful skin. With an enrichment of sulphate ions and metasilicic acid, it is very good for the skin.
Furthermore, this high-quality spring water warms you up from the inside and keeps you warmer for longer.
It also has been said since long ago that the water from Shima Onsen is drinkable and it is also good for the stomach and intestines.
The three hot springs in this area, including Shima Onsen, Gaga Onsen in Miyagi prefecture, and Yunohira Onsen in Oita prefecture, are considered to be the three best hot springs in Japan for healing gastrointestinal diseases
To enjoy these hot springs with their health benefits, there are plenty of “ryokan” (traditional inns) in Shima Onsen where you can have a pleasant stay and will be welcomed warmly in a friendly atmosphere. There are also many hot spring facilities in the town.
Shima Seiryu-no-yu (Onsenguchi area, the hot spring flowing in from the underground of the Yamaguchi district’s hot springs source), Kami-no-yu (Yamaguchi area), Kawara-no-yu (Arayu area), and Gomusou-no-yu(Hinatami area) are all one-day hot spring facilities. You can enjoy the hot springs in a different area from where you are staying.
If you want to drink the water from these healthy hot springs and enjoy the health benefits for your stomach, you can visit the Shio-no-yu and Yuzuriha drinking fountains.
For “ashiyu” (footbath) lovers, you must visit Okinaya Souvenir Shop, Yamaguchi Kawane’s footbaths, Hinatamiyakushi and Yuzuriha area.
Come and enjoy the abundant spring water in Shima Onsen in a variety of ways!