Origin of Onsen Trail

Feel the heat of the earth in Bandai-Asahi National Park


The Japanese archipelago is one of the most volcanic destinations on Earth, with its 100 active volcanoes accounting for around 10% of all active volcanoes. Whilst the danger presented by constantly shifting plates goes without saying, these fiery mountains have also given birth to breathtakingly beautiful landscapes and natural phenomena, as well as unique lifestyle practices and culture of the people that live in their proximity. Of course, one of the most attractive characteristics of local life in Japan that goes hand-in-hand with the volcanic surroundings is frequent bathing in onsen – hot-springs!


If you have visited Japan before you’re more than likely to have experienced bathing at an onsen. Prepare to have your preconceptions of hot-spring bathing blown out of the water! On this tour you will gain a whole new appreciation for onsen – not only for their healing properties after an active day of hiking and exploring the volcanic landscape, but for their role in sustaining the local environment and lifestyle. Not only will you have the rare chance to visit the source of several hot-springs deep in the mountains of Bandai Asahi National Park (and even bath in a natural hot-spring river!), you’ll also be inspired by the stories of the ‘onsen guardians’ who protect them.


In the space of five days, four nights and many baths you’ll conquer three volcanic peaks – Mt. Issaikyo, Mt. Adatara and Mt. Bandai, indulge in delicious local food and sake, and make new connections with the equally unique and beautiful people of Fukushima!


What’s Included

• 4 nights accommodation
• 4 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 4 dinners
• Bonsai workshop at Bonsai-ya Abe
• All transport and transfers as listed in itinerary
• Some snacks and refreshments
• Travel insurance (details)
• English speaking guides / interpretation

Not included

• Airfares and transport to/from start and end points.
• Personal expenses
• Alcoholic beverages with meals (unless stated otherwise).




Day 1 – From miniature trees to mountains

After meeting at JR Fukushima Station (just 90 minutes from Tokyo on the Tohoku Shinkansen), your first stop is the charming farmhouse restaurant ‘Suzu’ located near Iizaka hot springs.


Yoshiyuki and Yuka Suzuki are young asparagus farmers who recently took over their family fruit orchard and transformed it into a fusion of farming and culinary wizardry! Enjoy a chat with the Suzukis and hear more of their story before tucking into a tasty course lunch made with locally sourced ingredients.


After lunch and a quick dip in the hot spring foot baths, you’ll head to ‘Bonsai-ya Abe’ – the home and studio of local Bonsai artisan, Daiki Abe. At the foot of Mt. Azuma, Abe-san and his father and grandfather before him, have developed a unique style of bonsai craftsmanship called ‘Kukanyubi’ ー ‘the beauty of space’ ー using the Japanese White Pine (Azuma Goyomatsu) that grow in the Azuma mountain range. Enjoy a rare opportunity to watch a bonsai artisan at work, transforming a pine into an expression of the rugged nature of the mountains you’ll be hiking tomorrow!

Afterwards, enjoy a cup of tea and some home-made snacks with Abe-san and his mother before journeying to Takayu hot springs.

Before checking in to your accommodation at the beautiful Adachiya Ryokan, join a local guide on a walk to the source of the hot springs where he will perform some ‘onsen magic’ demonstrating how the mineral balance of the water is maintained.

*OPTIONAL EVENING ACTIVITY: Stargazing at Mt. Jododaira*
After a delicious ‘Kaiseki’ meal at your accommodation in Takayu Onsen, journey up the mountain to the Jododaira plateau to gaze at the incredible starry skies. With very little light pollution, some evenings it is possible to see the Milky-Way with the naked eye! Enjoy a cup of hot-wine or cocoa as you ‘space-out’ in the darkness. Upon request, a local cameraman will accompany you to show you the best spots and techniques for capturing the night-sky or the lights of Fukushima City shining below.

May be an image of nature and sky

Accommodation: : Adachiya Ryokan (Takayu Onsen)| Shared room, Japanese/Western (ensuite) | Onsen baths
Included meals: Lunch, Dinner


Day 2 – Hiking in the Azuma mountain range

An early morning start is worth it for some freshly brewed coffee by a waterfall on the way to Mt. Issaikyo from Takayu Onsen. After hiking your way to the foot of Mt. Issaikyo, the group will be reunited with bonsai master Abe-san who will guide you around some of the pine forests and dramatic landscapes that inspire his works. At the top of Mt. Issaikyo, gaze into the blue depths of Goshikinuma Pond, also known as the ‘Witch’s Eye’. Enjoy a packed ‘obento’ lunchbox and fuel-up for the afternoon’s hike: a much more leisurely walk around the perimeter of the crater of Mt. Azuma-Kofuji!
After an active day, drive back down the mountain to the charming hot spring village of Tsuchiyu Onsen.


Spend the evening eating and drinking like a local in Tsuchiyu Onsen! Visit two different local restaurants to sample regional cuisine and sip on local sake and craft beer. In between meals, chill-out in the hot-spring foot baths dotted across the town and ‘soak-up’ the view of bath-houses along the river.

Activity: Hiking 1 Takayu Onsen → Mt. Issaikyo | Time – 6 hours | Elevation – 1949m Hiking 2 Mt. Azuma-Kofuji | Time – 1 hour | Elevation 1705mDifficulty: 3
Accommodation: Yumori Onsen Hostel (Tsuchiyu Onsen) | shared room, Japanese style | ensuite shower / shared hot spring baths
Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 3 – Become an ‘onsen guardian’ for the day on Mt. Adatara

Mt. Adatara, known fondly as ‘nipple mountain’ by the locals due to its shape, is one of Japan’s ‘100 Famous Mountains’ and a popular spot for viewing the colourful Autumn foliage. An active volcano, Mt. Adatara is home to several springs that source the baths of various hot-spring villages at its foot, including Dake Onsen. The highlight of today’s hike is not just the panoramic view from the top, but the journey itself and your unique guide: a local ‘Yumori’.

The ‘Yumori’: Onsen guardians

Have you ever stopped to wonder how it is possible for the mineral-rich hot spring water to continuously flow into the baths of Japanese ryokan inns? At Dake Onsen, the source of the spring is located some 8km deep into the forests of Mt. Adatara. The spring water is so rich in minerals that the pipes from the source of the spring need to be maintained weekly, releasing the build up of sulphur and minerals. A team of local men are entrusted with this laborious task, hiking to the onsen source every week – sometimes multiple times – even in the height of winter! It is upon the shoulders of the ‘Yumori’ (literally meaning protector of hot spring) that the health of the hot-springs and the livelihood of the town depend.

On the way back down from the peak of Mt. Adatara, your Yumori guide will show you to the source of the spring and share stories of their experience protecting it. The level of appreciation you’ll have for your relaxing bath at the end of this hike will be second-to-none!


Spend the evening hopping between various local restaurants – including a counter-bar owned by another of the Yumori – just a stone’s throw from your accommodation at Dake Onsen.

Activity: Trekking: Mt. Adatara | Elevation – 1718m | Time – 9 hours Difficulty: 3

Accommodation: Mt. Inn Onsen Hostel| shared room, Japanese style | ensuite shower . shared hot spring baths
Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 4 – Extreme Onsen!

You thought yesterday’s journey with the Yumori changed your perception of Japanese onsen? Well, get ready to have your mind blown once again, this time with an ‘extreme onsen’ experience! Heading behind Mt. Adatara to Numajiri hot springs, you’ll first hike along a trail looking down at a brilliantly blue-white river. This is no ordinary river, but a river sourced by Numajiri Motoyu, said to be Japan’s most plentiful hot-spring with over 13400 litres of water gushing out of the ground every minute! Not far from the source, visitors can take off their hiking boots and socks and enjoy a relaxing foot spa, surrounded by the dramatic natural scenery. Those feeling extra brave are welcome to jump in further (bathing suits allowed)!


In the afternoon, enjoy a change of pace with a relaxing walk and a spot of ‘forest therapy’ at the ‘five-coloured lakes’ of Goshikinuma behind Mt. Bandai. These lakes were created by the eruption of Bandai in 1888 with the unique composition of minerals in the water giving them brilliant, almost unnaturally blue hues!

Enjoy your last evening of the tour at the beautiful Numajiri-Kogen Lodge, a newly refurbished lodge that used to belong to Fukushima native Junko Tabei, the first woman to summit Mt. Everest! The lodge has also historically hosted Sir Edmund Hillary.
Indulge in a delicious course meal made with locally sourced ingredients and relax in the cozy lounge after a day of extremes!

Activity: Hiking 1 Extreme onsen | Time – 2.5 hours | Elevation – 1300m Hiking 2 Goshikinuma| Time – 2.5 hours | 4km

Difficulty: 2
Accommodation: Numajiri Kogen Lodged| shared room, Western style | ensuite with shared hot spring baths
Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 5 – Climb the symbol of Fukushima, Mt. Bandai.

The climax of the tour will be conquering the impressive Mt. Bandai (1816m) , one of the most recognizable landmarks in Fukushima Prefecture and a much-loved local icon. It was the eruption of Bandai in 1888 that created much of the surrounding landscape of Urabandai and the two constrasting faces of the mountain.

Your local guide will take you up the ‘Happodai’ trail head, the most popular course for hikers and known for its stunning views over Lake Inawashiro below.
At the peak of Mt. Bandai, enjoy a delicious packed lunch as you take in the panoramic views over the lake and the Azuma mountain ranges where you have just spent the past five memorable days.

After climbing back down the mountain there will still be time for one last onsen in the Urabandai area! Soak your tired muscles and spend a moment reflecting on your trip – and plan for the next one!

Tour ends at JR Koriyama Station (around 50 minutes drive from the Bandai area).

Activity: Hiking: Mt. Bandai| Time – approx 4 hours | Elevation – 1816m Difficulty: 3
Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch


JR Fukushima Station
Five days, four nights
10-16 people
Sign-up Deadline
By request
Cancellation Policy
• Cancelled more than 21 days prior to departure: Zero fees.
• Cancelled between 20 and 8 days prior to departure: 20% of the Tour
• Cancelled between 7 days and 48 hours prior to departure: 30% of the
Tour Price.
• Cancelled between 48 and 24 hours prior to departure :40% of the Tour
• Cancelled within 24 hours of departure: 50% of the Tour Price.
• Cancelled on the day of departure: 100% of the Tour Price.
• *No refunds will be given after the tour has commenced.*
If the minimum number of participants is not met the event will be cancelled.


Basic Plan

Price 275000

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