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9. Best Onsen/Sand Bath Combination
Takegawara Onsen
(Beppu, Kyūshū)
Sometimes simplest is best. This traditional Meiji Era onsen first opened in 1859, and its smooth wooden floors transport you back to a Japan of neighbourhood pleasures-unpretentious, relaxing and accessible to all. There are separate (and very hot) baths for men and women. Takegawara also offers heated sand baths in which, wearing a cotton yukata, you are buried up to your neck with hot sand for 10 to 15 minutes, followed by a rinse and a soak in an adjacent onsen bath.

10. Best Mountain Onsen
Takama-ga-hara Onsen
(Northern Japan Alps, Central Honshū)
High, high up in the Japan Alps, if you want to soak in this wonderful free riverside rotemburo, you are going to have to hike for at least a full day. It is located in a high natural sanctuary with mountains on all sides. To tell the truth, even if it took three days of walking to get here, it would be worth it. Some Japanese say that this is the highest rotemburo in Japan. You can spend the night nearby in a creaky old mountain hut.

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