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Takanoyu Onsen (♨鷹の湯温泉) is one of several hot spring resorts in the Akinomiya Hot Spring Resort area of Yuzawa, a town in southern Akita Prefecture. The onsen is nestled in a small gorge along the banks of the Yakunai River. Because of its secluded location, it is referred to as a Hitou, or hidden hot spring.
Legend has it that the Akinomiya Hot Springs, the oldest in Akita Prefecture, were found 1,200 years ago. Local legend also has it that Takanoyu, or Falcon's Hot Spring, got its name when a falcon led a hunter to the spring, giving the onsen its eponymous name. The onsens in Akinomiya were officially recognized by the Akita Clan in the Edo period (1603–1868).
Takanoyu Onsen has its own hot spring, which wells up directly adjacent to the inn on the east bank of the Yakunai River. The water temperature at the spring source is 72 °C (162 °F). Only about ten percent of all hot spring facilities in Japan have water flowing directly from their own environmentally safe and pure source as recommended by the Japan Offspring Fund. Its medicinal benefits are recommended for neuralgia, rheumatism, and skin disorders.
Takanoyu has indoor baths, or ofuro (お風呂), outdoor baths, or rotenburo (露天風呂), and a foot bath, or ashiyu (足湯). There are three, mixed bathing indoor baths of varying temperature, one of which a person can soak standing up in water 130 cm deep, and a women's bath. There are three mixed bathing rotenburo, one of which is located on the bank of the Yakunai River, and a women's rotenburo. All the rotenburo are roofed, except the one on the river bank.
Besides soaking in a spring fed ofuro, visiting an onsen provides an opportunity to experience several aspects of traditional Japanese culture, including the Japanese love of nature. Many hot springs are located in rural mountainous areas, and visiting an onsen allows one to leave the city and commune with nature throughout the four seasons, especially in the fall when trees are ablaze in color. Onsen inns are typically in the traditional Japanese ryokan (Japanese inn) style where one dons a yukata and sleeps in a futon on tatami mats. Onsen food is typically Kaiseki style that reflects the season and region. In Akita Prefecture, the inns typically serve sansai, or local wild vegetables, wild and cultivated mushrooms, and grilled mountain stream trout for dinner, and onsen tamago for breakfast.
Akinomiya is located on highway route 108 approximately 30 minutes by car south from Yokobori, Akita, or 45 minutes by car north from Naruko, Miyagi.
Akinomiya and southern Akita Prefecture are also accessible by rail. Yokobori Station is served by the JR East Ōu Main Line serving Aomori, Akita, Yamagata, and Fukushima Prefectures. From Tokyo, southern Akita is served by the Tohoku Shinkansen (Furukawa Station) or the Yamagata Shinkansen (Shinjo Station).
- Discovery of Akinomiya Hot Springs
- Recognition of Akinomiya Hot Springs
- Akinomiya Geothermal Area
- List of onsens with their own hot spring source
- Medicinal Benefits
- Yuzawa City, Akita Tourist Brochure
- Akita Prefectural Guide Hot Springs
- List of Akita Hitou
- Akinomiya Hot Spring Resort on Google Maps
- Dong-a Ilbo travelogue review