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Gaga Onsen covered with snow

A 10-minute drive down on a side road of the Zao Echo Line, which runs east-west through the Zao Mountain Range, leads to a charming building. This is Gaga Onsen. Gaga Onsen stands alone surrounded only by nature; there's not another hotel or store around. The view of the gorges nearby is breathtaking.
The sound of the Nigori River flowing by and a hint of sulfur in the air add to the atmosphere of this hidden onsen (hot spring) hotel. Established 150 years ago, Gaga Onsen has been passed down as a therapeutic bath, and is now run by the sixth landlord. It remains popular not only as a therapeutic bath, but also as an onsen hotel just for spending time to relax. Why not stay a few nights, instead of just one, and soothe away your daily fatigue?

Common room filled with the warmth of wood

The first thing you'll see on entering the hotel is the common room. It feels much like visiting a tasteful café with a gentle atmosphere, and just begs you to take a seat. One of the drawcards is the rocking chair in front of the wood stove, the perfect place to rock yourself to sleep.
Deep in the mountains, Gaga Onsen is not covered by mobile phone networks; however, the common room does offer free Wi-Fi access. Just ask the staff for the password. At night, the bar in the common room opens and offers alcohol, cold-brew coffee, and original drinks diluted with hot spring water. A nice place to relax after dinner.
Gaga Onsen, which is known as onsen effective against top three stomach and bowel diseases in Japan, can be enjoyed in three ways: pouring, drinking, and soaking. The hot spring water rising directly from the source surely warms and cures the body from inside.

Indoor lukewarm bath

There are two indoor bathtubs, one of which keeps the temperature of bathwater at 38-42 degrees Celsius for a relaxing lukewarm bath. The other one maintains the bathwater at a scalding temperature of 47 degrees Celsius, making it too hot to soak in. Instead, bathers lie down on the edge of the bathtub and slowly pour the hot water around the stomach with bamboo cylinders. Repeating it 100 times is said to be a traditional way at Gaga Onsen. This unique water-pouring technique actually warms up the stomach and clearly accelerates metabolism. Experiencing this traditional therapeutic culture is another way to enjoy Gaga Onsen.

Outdoor bathtub for women

Look out from the outdoor bath and you'll see rugged rocks. This scenery is described as gaga-taru iwaiwa ("rugged rocks" in Japanese), from which Gaga Onsen takes its name. It is nice to spend time relaxing while seeing nature in front you and hearing the stream below. In addition to this gender-separated outdoor bath, Gaga Onsen offers a mixed-gender outdoor bath and a chartered outdoor bath (Tenku no Yu). To enjoy each of them, it's best to stay more than one night. Try a drink from the drinkable hot spring, which is said to be good for the stomach and bowel when taken on an empty stomach, near the front desk. They say that the spring is also effective against chronic digestive organ diseases and chronic constipation.

Komakusa Room

The Komakusa Room, which is named after a plant native to Japan, is a spacious guest room that feels like a cottage. This suite consists of a mini dining room, mini-kitchen, powder room, and tea room. In addition, there's one Japanese-style room and one Western-style room. The bedroom is large with a loft.
The suite is equipped with a bathtub that fills with fresh, hot spring water straight from the faucet. It's perfect for those times when you'd rather indulge alone in a quality bath without leaving your room This suite accommodates two adults.

Wood-Floored Room

Enjoy lounging around in the wood-floored room, sitting on the raised step or just lying down on your soft futon.
Pure bliss - sitting around a kotatsu heated table in a hotel deep in the mountains. All the guest rooms in Gaga Onsen contain floor heaters to keep the floor and beds warm during midwinter. The futon beds, which are usually folded up when not in use, are kept laid out during your stay because, as a way to show hospitality, the staff do not enter the room to set up the beds to avoid disturbing guest.
●Access to Gaga Onsen
[By train]
Take the Tohoku Shinkansen to Shiroishi-Zao station, and transfer to the Miyagi Zao Royal Hotel bus terminal on the Miyagi Transportation bus line. A courtesy car to Gaga Onsen is available from the Miyagi Zao Royal Hotel bus terminal.
(By Bus] Take the Expressway bus from the bus station at Sendai station on the Tohoku Shinkansen to the Miyagi Zao Royal Hotel terminal. A courtesy car to Gaga Onsen is available from the Miyagi Zao Royal Hotel bus terminal.
*Reservation required: Gaga Onsen 0224-87-2021 (8:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.)
[By car]
On the Tohoku Expressway, take the Shiroishi Exit to Togatta Onsen and continue to the ski resort - about 45 minutes. Or take the Murata Exit to Togatta Onsen and continue to the ski resort - about 40 minutes.
photo & text : Megumi Ueda

Facility Information

Gaga Onsen

1 Gaga, Maekawa, Kawasaki-machi, Shibata-gun, Miyagi 989-0901