Your online guide to exploring Japan's hidden and lesser-known wonders!

Onsen Legends: Delving Into Traditional Hot Springs and the Mystical Stories Surrounding Them


Onsen, or traditional Japanese hot springs, have been around for thousands of years. In addition to their therapeutic benefits, they are also steeped in history and mythology. Many onsens are said to have mystical powers and stories surrounding them, making them not just a place to relax, but a place of spiritual significance.

The Legend of Beppu’s Eight Hells

Beppu is known as the hot spring capital of Japan, with over 2,000 hot spring sources. Among the most famous attractions in Beppu are the “Eight Hells”, which are a group of hot springs with unique colors and appearances. Legend has it that each of the eight hells is guarded by a deity, and visitors must pay a small fee to access each one. It is said that this fee is necessary to appease the gods, as they are very protective of their respective hells.

The Legend of the Gero Onsen Fox

Gero Onsen is a hot spring located in the Gifu Prefecture, known for its high-quality water and stunning views of the surrounding mountains. According to legend, a white fox appeared near the onsen and turned into a beautiful woman. She would visit the onsen every day and even taught the local residents how to use it for its therapeutic benefits. One day, she disappeared, but it is said that she still visits the onsen in the form of a white fox.

The Legend of Yubara Onsen’s Three Beauties

Yubara Onsen is located in the Okayama Prefecture, and is known for its healing properties and stunning natural surroundings. Legend has it that there were once three beautiful sisters who visited the onsen every day. They were so beautiful that the local residents would sneak peeks at them through the windows. One day, a jealous woman spread a rumor that the sisters were actually demons, and they were banished from the onsen. But it is said that their spirits still linger in the area, and those who visit the onsen with pure intentions can still see them.


Onsen legends add another layer of intrigue to these already fascinating places. Whether you believe in the stories or not, they are an important part of Japanese culture and history, and a visit to an onsen can be much more than just a relaxing soak in hot water.
Scenic Railways