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Angus Miyaji

Things to do in Kinugawa Onsen - Nearby Tokyo Interview

Talking about 'things to do' in Kinugawa Onsen

We are back in Tochigi prefecture to highlight another fantastic local area: Kinugawa Onsen! Located only about 2 hours from Tokyo, this area is an excellent onsen getaway from Tokyo. 

In this article, we talked to Toshiki Akutsu, from Nikko City’s Tourism Department, where he shared his local knowledge with us. We hope you will find it useful in discovering a local’s perspective of what Kinugawa Onsen has to offer.

Which is the best season to come to Kinugawa Onsen?

Nikko Tourism Staff

I would recommend any season.

The Kinugawa Onsen(鬼怒川温泉)area is an attractive place throughout the four seasons.

In spring, the cherry blossoms burst into full bloom, and the addition of lights enhances the enchanting atmosphere, making it even more magical.

During summer, indulge in a variety of water activities along the Kinugawa River. As autumn sets in, the Ryuokyo Gorge(龍王峡)transforms into a captivating display of vivid autumn leaves, creating a truly wonderful sight.

During winter, the entire area is blanketed in snow, creating a fantastic and enchanting atmosphere.

Cherry Blossom Festival/ River rafting/ Kinugawa River Autumn Foliage

Which are the top 3 attractions you cannot miss in Kinugawa Onsen?

First and foremost, there’s Kinugawa Onsen’ natural hot spring. This hot spring has a long history, having opened during the Edo period, and has been cherished by many since ancient times. 

The quality of the Kinugawa Onsen is said to be effective in relieving fatigue and is gentle on the skin, making people want to soak in it over and over again

The location is also fantastic, with many ryokans and hotels along the Kinugawa River. You can bathe while enjoying the flow of the river, creating a very luxurious feeling.

Next, I highly recommend visiting Ryuokyo Gorge(龍王峡). Shaped by volcanic rocks erupted about 22 million years ago and eroded by the Kinugawa River, it spans approximately 3 km. As the name suggests, the landscape resembles a dragon’s sprawling form. In spring, vibrant new greenery spreads, and in autumn, colorful foliage covers the area, making it a popular hiking spot attracting many visitors.

The third is the Kinugawa Tateiwa Suspension Bridge (鬼怒川楯岩大吊橋.) It’s a 140m long suspension bridge. From the 40-meter-high bridge, you can enjoy the rapids of the Kinugawa River and the seasonal changes in the mountains. From the Tateiwa Observation Deck located across the bridge, you can view the Kinugawa Onsen hot spring resort and the panoramic view of the highland mountain range. The breathtaking panorama is a sight to behold.

Nikko Tourism Staff

Kinugawa Onsen Town/ Kinugawa Onsen open-air bath/ Kinugawa Tateiwa Suspension Bridge

Is there a festival with a special meaning associated with it?

Nikko Tourism Staff

There is a festival called “Ryuo Festival (龍王祭),” which has been held since 1969. The festival features offerings of the local performing art “Ryuo Taiko” as well as processions of the “Mandou Mikoshi” (Ten Thousand Lantern Portable Shrine) and the women-only carried “Onnataru Mikoshi” (Women’s Barrel Portable Shrine). The grand finale of the festival is a fireworks display known as “Goukakenran Ryujinsyouten” which translates to “Ascension of the Dragon God in all its splendor.” Just hearing the name gives you an idea of how magnificent and splendid the fireworks must be.

Nikko Kinugawa Onsen Dragon Festival

Ryuo Festival

Do you have a hidden gem?

There is a very enchanting event called “Tukiakari Hanakairou” (月明り花回廊).
With the concept of “Encountering the gentleness of nature and people under the moonlight,” it is an event centered around the theme of “light,” valuing interactions with nature and people.
Numerous illuminations and art exhibitions themed around light are displayed, accompanied by concerts featuring violin and koto(Japanese harp) performances.

Nikko Tourism Staff

Tukiakari Hanakairou  Illumination and concert

And Finally, are there any special discounts or passes available for visitors?

Nikko Tourism Staff

Yes, there is!

NIKKO MaaS is a convenient service that allows you to easily search and book sightseeing spots in Nikko on a dedicated smartphone site.

Eco-friendly mobility services such as EV/PHV car sharing, shared bicycles and EV buses  can be found as well as tickets to historical and cultural facilities, nature activities,  and can be used with a single smartphone.

There are no membership or annual fees, and you do not need to download any apps, so please take advantage of this service. (No English)


Final Thoughts

It was great to talk to Akutsu-san and learn more about Kinugawa Onsen and all it has to offer!

I learned so much about the area and I was really impressed by all the beautiful attractions, outdoor activities, and hot spring! There are many things I would love to try out myself and am really looking forward to visiting Kinugawa Onsen in the upcoming season!

As always, I hope this article gives you a few new ideas so when you are in Tokyo or planning to visit Japan you can add them to your itinerary. Coming to Kinugawa Onsen will definitely make your time in Japan extra special.

How to get to Kinugawa Onsen

If you are coming from Tokyo, taking the train is the easiest, but driving is also recommended as it is easy to get around town with a car.

By Car:

2hrs 45mins drive from Tokyo

By Train:

2hrs 30mins from via Tobu Railway from Tokyo Asakusa Station.

2hrs via Limited Express Train from Shinjuku (reservation required) 

Did you find this article useful?

I hope you enjoyed reading about this hidden gem just north of Tokyo, if you would like to know more about fun things to do and travel ideas, please continue to have a look at our must-see / must do things nearby Tokyo page.

To book unique activities in English, please see the Nearby Tokyo experience page.

Oku-Nikko Travel Guide

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Profile photo rowing a boat on Lake Haruna in GUnma

Contributor:  Angus Miyaji

Founder of Nearby Tokyo/ and Japan World Link, Angus helps visitors discover off the beaten track destinations in the North Kanto regions (Tochigi, Gunma, Ibaraki & Saitama north of Tokyo). He regularly travels between Japan and the UK promoting tourism and Japanese sake.

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