Shirahone-onsen Hot Spring
Mild milky-white hot spring relaxes both body and mind
At the center of Nagano Prefecture, in a deep gorge on the side of the sacred mountain Norikura, Shirahone Onsen lies in clouds of white steam. In this rustic hot spring resort surrounded by pristine nature at 1400m above sea level, the only sounds you can hear are singing of birds and murmuring of streams. Its spring water is clear when it wells up but turns a bluish milk-white over time. This happens because its high sulfur and calcium content exposed to air goes through a chemical reaction and becomes cloudy. The hot spring was named "Shirahone" (white bone) because when the resulting substance sticks to the bathtub it looks like white bones.
The milky-white water is silky-smooth. There is a saying about this place, which is "Bathe in this water for three days and you won't catch a cold for three years." As it is believed that drinking the water can cure gastrointestinal problems, there are many people who wish to take the water home, and there are two spring water drinking stations are provided for anyone who wishes to drink the water.
Each of the eleven inns has their own hot spring source and is named after the characteristics of its water, such as "bubbly water", and "five-color water." There is a public open-air bath at the bottom of the valley. Soaking yourself in the gentle, turbid water and the refreshing air will relax both body and mind.
Address: 4197 Azumi, Matsumoto City, Nagano
Phone: 0263-93-3251 (Shirahone Onsen Tourist Information Center)
Directions: Train: Take the Alpico Kotsu bus for one hour and 24 minutes for Shirahone Onsen from JR Matsumoto Station (2 hours and 50 minutes from Tokyo) via Matsumoto Dentetsu Shinshimashima; get off at the final stop.
Car: One hour from Matsumoto Interchange on the Nagano Expressway