Iizaka Onsen Guide

Iizaka Onsen is one of the oldest Onsens in the Tohoku region and was called “Sabako no Yu” in ancient times. It is one of the three most famous Onsens in Oshu along with Naruko Onsen and Akiu Onsen in Miyagi Prefecture, and has a long history. It is also one of the three most famous Onsens in Fukushima Prefecture: Takayu Onsen, Tsuchiyu Onsen, and Iizaka Onsen.

Legend has it that the ancient imperial prince, Prince Yamato Takeru (72-114) was cured of his illness in an onsen during his expedition to the east in the 2nd century. 1689, Matsuo Basho, one of Japan's most famous haiku poets, visited Iizaka Onsen.

Iizaka Onsen is located in Iizaka-cho, Fukushima City, Fukushima Prefecture. It is about a 20-minute drive from Fukushima City. Iizaka Onsen is an onsen resort with a long history, but it is attractive because of its easy accessibility. If you take the Tohoku Shinkansen from Tokyo Station, it will take less than 2 hours and 30 minutes to reach Iizaka Onsen if you have a smooth connection.

Get to know Iizaka Onsen

Area guide

Iizaka Onsen is lined with inns of various sizes, with the Surikami River and its tributary, the Aka River, at its center. The landmark “Totsuna Bridge” of the Iizaka Onsen resort crosses the Surikami River. The 52-meter-long arch bridge was designated a Tangible Cultural Property of Japan in 2020.

Many lodging facilities offer one-day spa bathing plans. Some old streets have been preserved in the onsen resort area, and historic architecture can be seen. Some ryokan are registered as tangible cultural properties of national significance, and you can stay in buildings with high historical value.

Iizaka Onsen has nine public bathhouses, four public footbaths, and one municipal onsen facility.

Public bathhouses are also used by locals in their daily lives. Sabako-yu is a typical public bathhouse in Iizaka Onsen. Sabako-yu is the oldest Onsen in Iizaka Onsen, and it is said that Basho, who visited Iizaka in 1689, took a bath in this Onsen. There are also other onsens, such as Hako-yu, which has a history of over 1,200 years, Daimon-no-yu, which overlooks the Fukushima Basin, Kiriyu, which is located at the end of a staircase leading underground, Dosen-no-yu and Totsuna-yu, which are located in residential areas and support the lives of local residents. Iizaka Onsen is home to a variety of unique public bathhouses that reflect the local culture and lifestyle of the area.

The hot water in the nine public bathhouses is famous for its high temperature. Japanese people like hot water. By joining the locals and bathing in the public bathhouses, you can experience the daily life of the Japanese people. Iizaka Onsen is also a great place to visit communal bathhouses where you can feel the daily life of the common people.

Public footbaths are a great way to relieve the fatigue of sightseeing. Footbaths are a simple way to bathe your feet in hot water, but warming your feet improves your metabolism and warms your body. The municipal onsen facility is located upstream from the Surigami River, which flows through Iizaka Onsen. There are indoor and outdoor baths, and visitors can bathe while enjoying the natural beauty of the four seasons.

Iizaka Onsen is known as the “Village of Fruits. From early summer to December, you can enjoy delicious fruits such as cherries, peaches, pears, grapes, and apples for more than half a year. Fruit picking in the orchards is also highly recommended. Other gourmet specialties include “enban gyoza” and “radium eggs”.

Enban gyoza are dumplings arranged in a disc shape. Enban gyoza are baked gyoza arranged in a frying pan in the shape of a disk, and served directly on a plate. There are many gyoza restaurants in Fukushima City with a history of 50 to 60 years. Enban gyoza was certified as “100-year food” by the Agency for Cultural Affairs in 2021. The Agency for Cultural Affairs has named the food culture that has been handed down in the region as “100-year food,” a food culture that will last for 100 years, and is working to pass it on.

Radium eggs are onsen eggs made in Iizaka Onsen. The name “radium egg” comes from the fact that radium was first discovered in Japan at Iizaka Onsen. There is a monument in front of the Iizaka Onsen Station that reads, “The place where radium was first discovered in Japan.

In October, the Iizaka Kenka Matsuri, one of the three major Kenka Matsuri in Japan, is held. A “Kenka Matsuri” is a festival in which portable shrines are violently bumped against each other, which makes them look like they are in a fight. Kishiwada Danjiri Festival in Osaka Prefecture, Kakunodate Festival in Akita Prefecture, and Iizaka Kenka Matsuri in Fukushima Prefecture are generally referred to as the three major Kenka Matsuri in Japan.


Access is convenient by train or airplane. The nearest train station is Fukushima Kotsu's Iizaka Onsen Station. If using the Shinkansen bullet train, change to the Iizaka train at JR Fukushima Station. It takes about 20 minutes from Fukushima Station to Iizaka Onsen Station.

From Sapporo

< Airplane, bus, and train >
New Chitose Airport → <Airplane> → Fukushima Airport → <Bus> → Koriyama Station → <Tohoku Shinkansen> → Fukushima Station → <Iizaka Train, Iizaka Line> → Iizaka Onsen Station (about 2 hours 40 minutes)

From Sendai

< Train >
Sendai Station → <Tohoku Shinkansen> → Fukushima Station → <Iizaka Train, Iizaka Line> → Iizaka Onsen Station (about 1 hour)

< Airplanes and Trains >
Sendai Airport → <Sendai Airport Railway / Sendai Airport Access Line> → Natori Station → <Tohoku Main Line> → Fukushima Station → <Iizaka Train / Iizaka Line> → Iizaka Onsen Station (about 1 hour and 10 minutes)

From Tokyo

< Train >
Tokyo Station → <Tohoku Shinkansen> → Fukushima Station → <Iizaka Train, Iizaka Line> → Iizaka Onsen Station (about 2 hours and 10 minutes)

< Airplanes and Trains >
Narita International Airport → <Airplane> → Sendai Airport → <Sendai Airport Railway, Sendai Airport Access Line> → Natori Station → <Tohoku Main Line> → Fukushima Station → <Iizaka Train, Iizaka Line> → Iizaka Onsen Station (about 2 hours 10 minutes)

From Nagoya

< Train >
Nagoya Station → <Tokaido Shinkansen> → Tokyo Station → <Tohoku Shinkansen> → Fukushima Station → <Iizaka Train, Iizaka Line> → Iizaka Onsen Station (about 4 hours)

< Airplanes and Trains >
Chubu International Airport → <Airplane> → Sendai Airport → <Sendai Airport Railway, Sendai Airport Access Line> → Natori Station → <Tohoku Main Line> → Fukushima Station → <Iizaka Train, Iizaka Line> → Iizaka Onsen Station (about 2 hours 20 minutes)

From Osaka

< Train >
Shin-Osaka Station → <Tokaido Shinkansen> → Tokyo Station → <Tohoku Shinkansen> → Fukushima Station → <Iizaka Train, Iizaka Line> → Iizaka Onsen Station (about 4 hours and 30 minutes)

< Airplane, bus, and train >
Itami Airport→ <Airplane>→Fukushima Airport→ <Bus>→Koriyama Station→Tohoku Shinkansen→Fukushima Station→Iizaka Train/Iizaka Line→Iizaka Onsen Station (about 2 hours 30 minutes)

From Fukuoka

< Airplanes and Trains >
Fukuoka Airport → <Airplane> → Sendai Airport → <Sendai Airport Railway / Sendai Airport Access Line> → Natori Station → <Tohoku Main Line> → Fukushima Station → <Iizaka Train / Iizaka Line> → Iizaka Onsen Station (about 3 hours)

Water quality

Iizaka Onsen is a simple hot spring. The water is clear and colorless and has no odor, but has a slight bitterness. Simple onsen refers to a type of onsen that contains a low amount of chemical components. Simple onsen are less stimulating due to their low potency. If you take a bath in an onsen that is not suitable for your body, your physical condition may deteriorate. Sulfur springs, acidic springs, and radioactive springs are among the types of springs that tend to affect the physical condition of the body. Simple onsen is a type of spring that has less adverse effects on the body. It is gentle to the body with little stimulation, so even the elderly and children can bathe in it without anxiety.

The hot water of Iizaka Onsen is alkaline and effective for beautiful skin.
Among simple hot springs, those with a pH value of 7.5 or higher are called weakly alkaline simple hot springs, while those with a pH value of 8.5 or higher are called alkaline simple hot springs, which have the effect of creating beautiful skin. Alkaline hot springs have the ability to remove unwanted keratin from the skin, making it smooth and silky.

In addition to skin beautifying, the hot water is beneficial for neuralgia, muscle pain, joint pain, motor paralysis, bruises, sprains, chronic digestive disorders, sensitivity to cold, convalescence, recovery from illness, fatigue, and health promotion. Contraindications are acute illness, active tuberculosis, malignant tumors, serious heart disease, respiratory failure, renal failure, bleeding disorders, severe anemia, and pregnancy (especially in the early and late stages).

The average temperature of the spring is high at about 60°C.
Iizaka Onsen has nine public bathhouses that are used on a daily basis by the locals. The Onsen water is supplied at a temperature of approximately 45 to 70 degrees Celsius at the outlet. The high temperature is due to the fact that the hot water is drawn directly from the source. Japanese people prefer hot water, but if you are not accustomed to hot water, it can be hard on your heart. Before taking a bath in anOnsen, it is a good idea to pour hot water over your body to get accustomed to the temperature of the water. Among the public bathhouses, Kiriyu is said to be good for cuts, Senki no Yu for hernia, and Tennoji Anahara Yu for skin diseases.


Around 3000 B.C., a tributary stream of the Surikami River flowed south of Iizaka Onsen, and Jomon people lived in Tsukizaki, where the stream and the Iizaka Highway intersected. At this time, rice cultivation had not yet begun in Japan. It is believed that the Jomon people lived by gathering plants, hunting, and catching fish and shellfish.

Legend has it that around the 2nd century, during the Japanese military expedition to the east, Prince Yamato Takeru (72-114) became ill, but after soaking in the “Sabako Yu (Onsen)”, he immediately recovered. Prince Yamato Takeru was a member of Japan's ancient imperial family. The “Sabako Yu (Onsen)” are thought to be Iizaka Onsens. The name “Sabako” seems to have taken root in a collection of waka poems compiled around 1006, in which “Sabako” is mentioned. This is also the origin of the name of the public bathhouse “Saboko-yu”.

It is said that Saigyo composed this poem. Saigyo (1118-1190) was originally a samurai, but became an ordained monk. Saigyo lived a life of seclusion in huts he built in various places and traveled around the country. While traveling, Saigyo composed many waka poems and left approximately 2,090 poems during his lifetime.

Onsen sources were scattered throughout the area and were valued by farmers and common people alike. Onsens became well known to the public in the mid-Edo period, from 1716 to 1736. With the development of the highways, not only the common people around the area but also many travelers began to visit Iizaka.

Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) is said to have helped raise the profile of the onsens. Basho, one of Japan's most famous haiku poets, visited Iizaka Onsen in 1689.

In 1689, Basho left Edo (present-day Tokyo) and traveled to various parts of Ou and Hokuriku regions before embarking on a journey to worship at Ise Jingu Shrine. The year of Basho's departure was the 500th anniversary of Saigyo's death, and it is said that Basho set out on his journey because he admired and respected Saigyo. Basho walked for about 150 days, covering about 2,400 km, and composed haiku in various places. This journey was published as Basho's travelogue “Oku no Hosomichi(Narrow Road to the Far North)” in 1702.

Iizaka was introduced as “Iizuka” in Basho's travelogue “Oku no Hosomichi(Narrow Road to the Far North)” and became well known.

At that time, Iizaka was a small onsen town with four onsen bathhouses, including Sabako-yu, a population of 326, and 74 households. Although Iizaka was becoming more formalized as an onsen resort, there were few inns with indoor onsens, and travelers chose their own inns and used the outside onsens scattered throughout the area for hot-spring cures.

The name “Iizaka” comes from the fact that this area was called Iizaka-mura. The onsen was called “Iizaka Onsen” from “Onsen of Iizaka Village,” and has been called “Iizaka Onsen” for some time.
In 1873, Date Ichi, a blind man, petitioned the prefecture to build a bridge over the Surikami River. Until then, there were no bridges in the Tohoku region, and ferryboats were used to cross the river. Once the Totsuna Bridge was built across the Surikami River, onsen inns were built one after another.

In addition to bridges, national roads and highways were built and railroads were developed. In 1895, the Tohoku Main Line of the Japanese National Railways (the predecessor of JR) opened and Date Station (formerly Nagaoka Station) was built, becoming the main entrance to Iizaka Onsen.

In 1908, the first railroad line opened between Fukushima Station and Iizaka Onsen, and in 1924, the current Fukushima Kotsu Iizaka Line was established, which was extended to the current Iizaka Onsen Station in 1927. 1.6 million people stayed at 120 inns in 1959, when Iizaka Onsen reached its peak.

As transportation improved, various celebrities visited Iizaka Onsen. Among haiku poets and poets, Shiki Masaoka and Akiko Yosano visited. Helen Keller visited twice, including a stay in Iizaka Onsen in 1937. Emperor Showa and members of the Imperial Family have also visited Iizaka Onsen.