Heal Your Body and Mind at a Historical Hot Spring Town

Kaminoyama Onsen offers soothing hot springs, scenic vistas, and healthful hiking

Kaminomiya Onsen encompasses seven villages, spread out over two districts in eastern Yamagata Prefecture. Each location offers the chance to enjoy a dip in the area's famous silky alkaline hot springs, discovered in 1458 by the traveling monk Gesshu when he spotted an injured crane bathing in its waters. Located on both a main thoroughfare and a pilgrimage path, the region grew in popularity up through the 20th century.

While Kaminoyama has traditionally been known for its public bathhouse culture, a new trend has taken root in the region. Inspired by the German concept of kurort (a term that describes health resorts and healing destinations), Kaminoyama now offers visitors “climatic terrain therapy”. Participants are encouraged to tackle the numerous walking routes around the district, while learning techniques to maintain a cool body surface and promote the rehabilitation of various illnesses and ailments.

At an elevation of 1000 meters above sea level, and with terrain ranging from forests to mountains slopes, Kaminoyama is perfectly situated to offer a range of healthy trekking routes. Eight paths catering to five different ability levels are certified as kurort courses by the University of Munich in Germany. Daily guided walks–coupled with relaxing onsen breaks and an abundance of Yamagata’s delicious local cuisine–make this a truly one-of-a-kind onsen escape.