Kinugawa Onsen Guide

It is an onsen town located in the upstream area of the Kinugawa River in Nikko City, Tochigi Prefecture. Nikko City is home to the World Heritage Site, Nikko Toshogu Shrine. Kinugawa Onsen was discovered during the Edo period (1603-1868). Before the hot spring was opened to the public, Kinugawa Onsen was a hot spring that only feudal lords and monks on pilgrimages to Nikko were allowed to bathe in.

Kinugawa Onsen is known as one of the largest hot spring resorts in the Kanto region, with inns and hotels lining the Kinugawa Gorge. It is accessible from Tokyo in about two hours, along with Hakone and Atami. Kinugawa Onsen has developed as a hot spring resort near the capital and as an accommodation base for Nikko sightseeing. In addition to its easy access from the Tokyo metropolitan area, it also offers many day-trip hot spring facilities that can be enjoyed casually.

Get to know Kinosaki Onsen

Area Guide

The area around Kinugawa Onsen is surrounded by rich nature. The Kinugawa Gorge, symbolizing Kinugawa Onsen, is a scenic spot representing Nikko National Park. Nikko National Park, established in 1934, is one of Japan's first national parks. The park area spans three prefectures: Fukushima, Tochigi, and Gunma, with a total area of 114,980 hectares. The Kinugawa Gorge, where Kinugawa Onsen is located, and the temples and shrines such as Nikko Toshogu Shrine are also included in the park area. Most of the park area belongs to the Nasu Volcanic Belt, characterized by mountainous terrain. At the foot of the mountains, you can see plateaus, lakes, marshes, waterfalls, and gorges created by volcanic activity.

Mount Nantai, located within the park, has been a subject of mountain worship since the 780s. Nikko has been a sacred site of the mountainous region centered around Mount Nantai, with temples and shrines built around the foot of the mountain and along the shores of Lake Chuzenji since ancient times. In 1616, Nikko Toshogu Shrine was built in this area where mountain worship was flourishing. Over time, the shrines and temples of Nikko were registered as a World Heritage Site in 1999.

The shrines and temples of Nikko include 103 buildings of Nikko Toshogu, Nikkozan Rinnoji Temple, and Nikko Futarasan Shrine, along with the cultural landscape surrounding these structures. Nikko is attractive for its fusion of historical buildings and cultural landscapes, exemplified by Nikko Toshogu, and the magnificent nature that surrounds them. Nikko Toshogu is characterized by its luxurious and splendid architectural beauty, showcasing the high level of traditional Japanese craftsmanship and artistry.

The Kinugawa Gorge, where Kinugawa Onsen is located, is famous for its seasonal gorge beauty created by nature. The Kinugawa Line Kudari boat ride is popular for experiencing the dynamic beauty of the Kinugawa Gorge. From the Kinutateiwa Otsuribashi Suspension Bridge, you can see the rapids of the Kinugawa River and the beautiful mountain scenery.

The area around Kinugawa Onsen is home to numerous theme parks, museums, and leisure facilities. Edo Wonderland Nikko Edomura is a theme park where you can experience the culture of the Edo period. The park recreates the streets of the Edo period against the beautiful backdrop of Nikko's mountains. Tobu World Square is a world architectural museum that features precise miniatures of famous buildings from around the world.

The water quality of Kinugawa Onsen is a mild, simple hot spring. Hot springs with strong stimulation can cause "yu-atari" (hot spring sickness) if they do not suit one's constitution. Yu-atari is a health condition caused by the effects of hot spring minerals. Simple hot springs are gentle, making them suitable for a wide range of people, from small children to the elderly and those with sensitive skin.

Kinugawa Onsen is full of attractions that can be enjoyed by everyone, from children to adults, couples to families.


The nearest station to Kinugawa Onsen is Tobu Railway's Kinugawa Onsen Station. It takes about two hours from Tokyo by direct limited express train from Asakusa on the Tobu Railway. From Shinjuku, it takes about two hours by direct limited express train bound for Kinugawa Onsen Station on JR and Tobu Railway. The JR line directly connects to the Tobu Railway, so no transfer is required.

From Tokyo

Shinjuku Station → <JR Limited Express> → <Tobu Direct Limited Express> → Kinugawa Onsen (about 2 hours)
Asakusa Station → <Tobu Direct Limited Express> → Kinugawa Onsen (about 2 hours)

From Sendai

Sendai Station → <Tohoku Shinkansen> → Utsunomiya Station → <JR Nikko Line> → JR Imaichi Station → <Walk> → Tobu Railway Shimo-Imaichi Station → <Tobu Direct Limited Express> → Kinugawa Onsen (about 1 hour 20 minutes)

From Nagoya

Nagoya Station → <Tokaido Shinkansen> → Tokyo Station → <JR Chuo Line> → Shinjuku Station → <JR Limited Express> → <Tobu Direct Limited Express> → Kinugawa Onsen (about 4 hours)

From Osaka

Shin-Osaka Station → <Tokaido Shinkansen> → Tokyo Station → <JR Chuo Line> → Shinjuku Station → <JR Limited Express> → <Tobu Direct Limited Express> → Kinugawa Onsen (about 5 hours)

Water Quality

The water quality of Kinugawa Onsen is a mildly alkaline simple hot spring. The water is colorless, transparent, tasteless, and odorless. Simple hot springs are not defined by the simplicity of their components, but rather by the fact that the amount of components does not reach a certain threshold. Therefore, simple hot springs have low concentrations of components and are less stimulating. Among simple hot springs, those with a pH of 7.5 or higher are called mildly alkaline simple hot springs. Mildly alkaline simple hot springs help remove old keratin from the skin, promoting beautiful skin.

Kinugawa Onsen is reputed to be effective for burns, and it has long been cherished alongside Kawaji Onsen to the north with the saying, "Kawaji for wounds, Taki (Kinugawa) for burns." The hot springs are also effective for skin diseases, gastrointestinal diseases, neuralgia, rheumatism, and other nerve-related ailments.


Neuralgia, Muscle pain, Joint pain, Frozen shoulder, Motor paralysis, Joint stiffness, Bruises, Sprains, Chronic digestive disorders, Hemorrhoids, Sensitivity to cold, Recovery from illness, Fatigue recovery, Health promotion


Acute diseases (especially with fever), Active tuberculosis, Malignant tumors, Severe heart disease, Respiratory failure, Renal failure, Hemorrhagic diseases, Severe anemia, Generally progressive diseases, Pregnancy (especially in the early and late stages)


Kinugawa Onsen is said to have been discovered around 1691 during the Edo period (1603-1868). The hot spring was discovered in the Taki district on the western bank of the Kinugawa River and was called Taki Onsen. During this period, Kinugawa Onsen was a post town on the Aizu-Nishi Kaido, which connected Edo and Aizuwakamatsu.

In 1751, Taki Onsen became the property of the shrines and temples of Nikko Toshogu. Because it was under the jurisdiction of Nikko Toshogu, Taki Onsen was a prestigious hot spring where only daimyo, samurai, and accompanying monks on pilgrimages to Nikko were allowed to bathe.

Nikko Toshogu is a World Heritage Shrine located in Nikko City, Tochigi Prefecture. Since its construction in 1616 as the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate, Nikko Toshogu has become a sacred site for the Tokugawa Shogunate. After Ieyasu's death, the second shogun, Hidetada, paid his respects, and the shogun's pilgrimages to Nikko took place 17 times until 1843. At that time, the shogun's pilgrimage to Nikko was a major event of great political significance.

Before Tokugawa Ieyasu established the Tokugawa Shogunate, Japan was in the Sengoku period, a time of frequent warfare. Tokugawa Ieyasu put an end to the Sengoku period and established the Tokugawa Shogunate in Edo (now Tokyo). The Tokugawa family's rule lasted for 15 generations, realizing about 260 years of peace during the Edo period. The shogun's pilgrimage to Nikko served to deify Tokugawa Ieyasu as a symbol of peace and to demonstrate the shogunate's authority. During the pilgrimage, key officials of the shogunate, along with daimyo and samurai, formed a procession said to number in the tens of thousands. The scale was so vast that even when the front of the procession arrived in Nikko, the rear was still in Edo Castle.

In 1867, with the abolition of the temple and shrine land system of the Edo period, Taki Onsen was opened to the general public. In the 1920s, Taki Onsen, along with Fujiwara Onsen discovered on its eastern side, began to be collectively known as "Kinugawa Onsen." With the opening of the Tobu Railway Nikko Line in 1929, large hot spring hotels and inns were constructed one after another, and the area began to develop as a tourist destination.

In the 1960s, a ropeway was established, and the Kinugawa Line Kudari boat ride was launched. Since the 1980s, leisure facilities, including theme parks, have been developed. In 2006, mutual direct train services between JR and Tobu Railway began, allowing direct access from Tokyo and Shinjuku without transfers.

With its excellent access from the Tokyo metropolitan area, Kinugawa Onsen has become one of the leading hot spring tourist destinations in the Kanto region.