An Outdoor Hot Spring of Eternal Youth with Sunset Ocean Views
Catch the Gonō Line to This Rustic Seaside Hot Spring
Furōfushi Onsen is located on Koganezaki, a cape in the town of Fukaura, on the beautiful Sea of Japan coast of Aomori Prefecture. The natural hot springs have been known since ancient times, when local inhabitants carved “beds” into the coastal rocks to bathe in the waters. The Koganezaki Furōfushi Onsen Hotel welcomes both lodgers and day visitors to relax in its spectacular hot springs. The name “Furōfushi” means “never age and never die”—could these be the fabled waters of eternal youth?
The popular JR Gonō Line is an ideal means to travel here, passing through the enchanting Shirakami-Sanchi wilderness, listed as a Natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The JR Resort Shirakami Express limited-stop rapid service in the Buna (Japanese beech) configuration features large windows and an interior finished with local timber to enhance the ambiance. The trains also host Tsugaru-jamisen (Aomori shamisen) performances and story-telling in the local Tsugaru dialect. A special train ticket, the Gonō Line Free Pass, permits unlimited en route stops over two days, allowing travelers to try trekking in Shirakami’s Jūniko lakes district or to visit other sites. (The pass costs ¥3,880, plus a ¥530 per seat reservation charge when riding trains with all-reserved seating.)
Pure Relaxation in a Mixed Outdoor Bath
Furōfushi Onsen’s waters are a dark reddish-brown, burbling up from a chloride hot spring high in iron that warms your body to the core both during and after bathing. The strong bactericidal properties of the spring are considered therapeutic for various skin conditions. It also contains high levels of metasilicic acid and hydrogencarbonate ions, which are believed to beautify skin. The healing properties ascribed to the waters explain the naming “never age and never die”; bathers are sure to feel rejuvenated from their daily grind or travel exertion.
The onsen is famous for its outdoor seaside baths: a large mixed-gender bath and a smaller bath for women only. Nothing matches the mixed bath for a feeling of liberation and of oneness with the ocean. The onsen does not permit bathers to wear their towels or bathing costumes in the tubs, but the hotel shop has special bathing wear for rental or sale to modest bathers. The one-piece outfits are made from a thick toweling with shoulder straps, so everyone can bathe together in comfort.
The seaside baths provide expansive views of the horizon and a sense that you are soaking in the sea, accompanied by the soothing sound of waves breaking on the rocks. The water is not too hot, so you can relax longer and appreciate the views.
Spectacular Sunset Views for Lodgers
Fukaura’s view of the sun setting over the Japan Sea horizon is ranked among Japan’s finest sunsets. The seaside baths are only open to day visitors until 4:00 pm, so the sunset views are reserved for lodgers.
Fukaura was once selected by the Ministry of the Environment as the best place in Japan for star watching. Lodgers at Furōfushi Onsen can gaze at the heavens from the Shin-kan outdoor bath, which stays open until midnight.
Ocean-View Hotel Rooms and Local Taste Sensations
The hotel’s hilltop location provides all guest rooms with lovely ocean views. Lodgers can thus enjoy the sunset and star gazing from the comfort of their rooms, in addition to the communal areas.
After fully unwinding in the outdoor, seaside bath, guests can savor dinner prepared from Fukaura delicacies. The nearby oceans are abundant fishing grounds, thanks to clear water entering the sea through underground channels from the Shirakami-Sanchi mountains. Dinner will nourish body and soul, boasting seasonal seafood, including tuna and bream, along with abalone and turban shell harvested at an uninhabited island 30 kilometers from the hotel.
- Address: 1-15 Shimokiyotaki, Henashi, Fukaura-machi, Nishitsugaru-gun, Aomori Prefecture
- Access: 5 mins by taxi from WeSpa Tsubakiyama Station on the JR Gonō Line. The Furōfushi Onsen Hotel runs a free shuttle bus for lodgers from JR WeSpa Tsubakiyama Station timed for the arrival of the Resort Shirakami Express. Reservation is not required. Reservations are required for local trains.
- Tel.: 0173-74-3500
- Bath times for hotel guests: Outdoor seaside bath, sunrise to sunset; Hon-kan (main wing) Kogane-no-Yu bath. 8:00 am–8:00 pm; Shin-kan (new wing) Furōfushi-no-Yu bath, 4:00 am–9:00 am and 10:30 am–midnight.
- Fees and bath times for day visitors: Adults ¥600, children ¥300. Outdoor seaside bath, 8:00 am–4:00 pm; Hon-kan Kogane-no-Yu bath, 8:00 am–8:00 pm; Shin-kan Furōfushi-no-Yu bath, 10:30 am–2:00 pm.
- Multilingual information: Facility signage is in Japanese and English. English- and Chinese-speaking staff are available.
English website: https://www.furofushi.com/english/
Nearby Attractions: Aoike Pond, Shirakami Jūniko Lakes
The Shirakami-Sanchi wilderness was the first Japanese site registered by UNESCO as World Heritage. Located in mountainous terrain straddling Aomori and Akita Prefectures, it boasts one of the world’s largest Japanese beech old-growth forests. At the western foot of Shirakami-Sanchi lies the Tsugaru National Park, with its popular group of lakes, Jūniko (‘12 Lakes“ in Japanese; there are actually 33 in total). The best known is Aoike, with brilliant blue water that appears dyed, yet is crystal clear. The water visibility is up to nine meters, such that fallen trees are visible at the bottom of the pond. A walking course offers an accessible World Heritage experience—visitors can meander through the dense Japanese beech forest to behold Aoike and the other ponds.
Jūniko and Aoike Walking Course
- Address: Matsukamiyama, Matsukami, Fukaura-machi, Nishitsugaru-gun, Aomori Prefecture
- Access: 15 mins by Kōnan Bus (route: Oku Jūniko Parking) from JR Jūniko Station. The 10-minute walk to Aoike starts from a nearby forest souvenir hut named Kyororo.
- The park is open to tourists from early April to late November.
- Recommended time: Allow 60 minutes to complete the loop (1.8 kilometers).
- Facility signs are in Japanese and English.
- Tel.: 0173-74-4412 (Fukaura Town Tourism Division)
(Originally written in Japanese. Reporting and text by Shoepress. Banner photo: Ocean sunset viewed from the outdoor bath at Furōfushi Onsen. Courtesy of the Aomori Prefectural Tourism Federation.)