The gravel area before the onsen

Hottarakashi is a Japanese word that means something like “putting your troubles aside for later”—and once you’re lying down in the shallow outdoor baths with the serene slopes of Mount Fuji in the distance, you can appreciate just how fitting is the name. This onsen is really only about the view. There’s no sauna, massage services, hot stone spas, or any of the other amenities and services that you might find at your retreat-type onsen. There is, however, a rest area and a small gift shop selling Yamanashi produce (including the wine for which the region is famous).

There are two onsen—”Kocchi no Yu” and “Acchi no Yu” (“This Onsen” and “That Onsen”)—both of which offer equally spectacular views of Mount Fuji from the outside bathtubs. There is a notice board in the main area with a few grainy pictures of the views from either, and a short description of the water quality (which obviously doesn’t differ that much given that it’s from the same source). The receptions and changing rooms are in what can only be described as a shack. Here you will find small lockers for valuables (don’t forget a ¥100 coin) which you should use because the changing rooms inside only have open baskets for your belongings.

I visited “Acchi no Yu” and was fortunate enough to do so on a beautiful, clear day. And what a view—Mount Fuji 40 kilometers in the distance and below the small town of Yatsubo in the middle of a largely barren landscape. The natural spring water isn’t as hot as most onsen (no doubt in part due to the cooling effect of the wind on the exposed baths) and the water is shallow enough to lie down with your head resting on a rock. It doesn’t get much more Japanese than this.

Hottarakashi Onsen, 1669-18 Yatsubo, Yamanashi 405-0036
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Getting there
As you can probably imagine, it’s not the easiest of onsen to reach. Ideally, you would get there by car (ample car parking space next to the onsen). Otherwise it’s a 10-minute taxi ride from Yamanashi-shi Station, which itself is a 90-minute direct train from Shinjuku Station. The taxi ride is about ¥2,500 one-way.
One hour before sunrise until 10pm (reception closes at 9:30pm). Open all year round.
¥800 for adults, ¥400 for children. Towel not included.
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