Four onsens ranked in "Top 20 sightseeing spots drawing interests from abroad", according to a recent survey conducted by TripAdvisor Japan. The survey is based on their websites' page view, visit length, the number of review posted and etc. by their users outside of Japan.
They are Spa World in Osaka (9th), Ooedo Onsen Monogatari (pronounce as Oh-edo) in Tokyo (11th), Spa RaQua in Tokyo (13th), and Takaragawa Onsen in Gunma Pref.(16th).
Spa World of Osaka is a very big complex. It says "Comfortable space of beauty and health. One of the biggest natural hot springs in the world" on the wall. (photo: Aug. 2007)
In spite of recognizing myself as a soak addict and living in Tokyo more than these 10 years, I've never been to Ooedo Onsen Monogatari nor Spa RaQua. I wonder if I deserve blogging about onsen. (^^;
Including Spa World of Osaka, these three places are more like spa amusement parks than onsens (at least to me). They drilled deeply to get onsen in big cities, for example, 1700 meters for Spa RaQua to add value to their services.
Recent engineering development made it possible, but I think they are definitely differnt from traditional onsens. And their admission fee is fairy expensive (Only Spa World often offers deep discount).
Personally, I prefer more traditional, simple places like public baths to these commercialized fancy spa places in big cities.
Takaragawa Onsen, a ryokan at northern Gunma Pref, Kanto Region is one of my favorites. There are three gender mixed open-air baths scattered both side of Takara-gawa (River Takara), an open-air bath for ladies (see top photo), and indoor baths for men and ladies (gender separated). There are different indoor baths (gender separated) exclusively for overnight staying guests.
The survey shows Takaragawa Onsen is popular among people in Spain. Wait for another post on Takaragawa Onsen. Hopefully I'm going to write later this year.
Whole ranking list of "Top 20 sightseeing spots in Japan" is:
1. Tsukiji Market (Tokyo)Link:
2. Tokyo Disneyland (Chiba)
3. Pokemon Center Tokyo (Tokyo)
4. Roppongi Hills (Tokyo)
5. Tokyo Disney Sea (Chiba)
6. Sensoji & Asakusa Kannon-do (Tokyo)
7. Kinkakuji (Kyoto)
8. Fushimi-inari Taisya (Kyoto)
9. Spa World (Osaka)
10. Universal Studio Japan (Osaka)
11. Ooedo Onsen Monogatari (Tokyo)
12. Kiyomizu-dera (Kyoto)
13. Spa RaQua (Tokyo)
14. Osaka-jo (Osaka)
15. Meiji Jingu (Tokyo)
16. Takaragawa Onsen (Gunma)
17. Kaiyukan (Osaka)
18. Shitenno-ji (Osaka)
19. Hokkaido Jingu (Hokkaido)
20. Shinjuku Gyoen (Tokyo)
TripAdvisor Japan's Survey (in Japanese)