The Three Hot Springs of Mimasaka (Yubara, Okutsu, and Yunogo)美作三湯
Three hot springs with various characteristics. From past to present, the hot springs continue to soothe people's souls.
The Mimasaka area is located in a mountainous region of northern Okayama Prefecture. There you will find Yubara, Okutsu, and Yunogo-onsen Hot Springs, each possessing different characteristics and together known as the "Mimasaka San'yu," or the "Three Hot Springs of Mimasaka."
The Yubara-onsen Hot Spring offers sand bath, and it has been bestowed the title of "Yokozuna (grand champion) of the West" in promotions ranking the best open-air baths in Japan organized by travel magazines and others. The Okutsu-onsen Hot Spring is known as a place where clothing can be stomped clean, as well as for its "Bijin-no-yu (beautiful woman's bath)." Lastly, the Yunogo-onsen Hot Spring is nicknamed the "Heron Hot Spring" because legend has it that a white heron once used the soothing waters to heal an injured foot. All three hot springs are well known throughout Japan, and since olden times, they have come to be loved by many.
The Yubara Hot Spring was already famous during the Edo Period when it placed near the top in the ranking chart of hot springs in Japan, called "Shokoku Onsen Kagami." It is famous for its open-air mixed bathing area of 'suna-yu (sand bath).' The 70-meter-tall Yubara Dam towers at the front of the bathing area, and it is a tremendous feeling to gaze upon the wall of the dam as you soak in the hot spring waters. The hot spring has "Bijin-no-yu (beautiful woman's bath)," "Kodakara-no-yu (blessed with children bath)," and "Choju-no-yu (longevity bath)." They can be enjoyed throughout the four seasons, and bathing in the healing waters in the dim light as darkness approaches is a truly special experience.
In the olden days, the Okutsu-onsen Hot Spring was the bathing spot of the head of the Tsuyama clan, a hot spring reserved exclusively for the use of the feudal lord. The area continues to be surrounded by the nature's beauty, truly a hot spring of a secluded mountain village. It is famous as a place where clothing can literally be stomped clean. People actually stomp up and down on their clothing, using the hot spring waters to get them clean, a sight that can't help but make you smile. They say that the hot spring waters whiten the skin and leave it feeling smooth, and they are even called "Bijin-no-yu (beautiful woman's bath)."
The Yunogo-onsen Hot Spring as well has a long history. The legend of the white heron is said to date back some 1,200 years. Of course the area has an open-air bath, and nearby flow the crystal clear waters of the Yoshino-gawa River, further adding to the hot spring experience.
From Tokyo :
[Air] 3h 20 min from Tokyo to Okayama Station by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line "Nozomi."
From Osaka :
[Rail] 52 min from Shin-Osaka to Okayama Station by JR Sanyo Shinkansen Line "Nozomi."
[Bus] 3h 40 min from JR Osaka Station to Yubara-onsen by direct highway bus.
From Okayama(Okayama Station) :
To the Yubara-onsen Hot Spring:
1h 30 min from Okayama Station to Yubara-onsen by bus for Yubara-onsen.
To the Yunogo-onsen Hot Spring:
1h 40 min from Okayama Station to Yunogo by the Uno Bus for Hayashino Station/Yunogo-onsen.
To the Okutsu-onsen Hot Spring:
1h from JR Okayama to JR Tsuyama Station, and 1h from Tsuyama Station to Okutsu-onsen by bus.