Tsuetate Onsen is said to have 1800 years of history. Its name comes from a Japanese phrase meaning "to leave ones walking stick standing", a spring with such healing power that it is said that people who arrive with a walking stick simply forget it behind. The town has long served as a stop for people seeking medicinal spring treatment, and still possesses the nostalgic atmosphere of an old onsen town.
"Momiji" bridge, located downstream of Tsuetate River, features many "ekoi" (carved carps) made of oguni-sugi timber.
The onsen is beautiful clear, mildly saline, and gentle on the skin with many moisturizing ingredients, all said to be highly effective in keeping your skin beautiful. The source is approximately 98 degrees; a "mushi-yu" (steam bath) has been available since old times. The temperature is lower than a conventional sauna but with higher humidity, for greater enjoyment with less strain on the body.
The water contains lots of metasilicic acid (a natural moisturizer), giving it a slightly supple, gentle feel on the skin.
The "Tsuetate Onsen Dondoya Himatsuri" is a fire festival, said to ward off disease and keep the family safe. It features a particular "shinji" (Shinto ritual) known as "yukake shinji", where water from the hot spring is poured on participants.
There is also the "Tsuetate Onsen Koinobori Matsuri" (April 1st–May 6th) where 3500 cloth koi billow in the wind all across the river; the "Tsuetate Onsen Matsuri" features local residents showcasing their acting talents and the fruits of their training, performing traditional plays (May 27th–28th).
Tsuetate Onsen is known and loved since ancient times for its "mushi-yu" (steam bath), using the plentiful water and high temperatures of the spring.
This is not something you find in other regions. It's like a sauna, but you can also expect all the benefits of a normal onsen. The traditional "mushi-yu" involves stepping through a small door and finding your way through a cloud of steam to a small room; here, you lie down to promote healthy metabolism throughout your entire body. Compared to a normal onsen, where you can only get in up to your neck, you can expect your whole body to enjoy the benefits of the onsen.
The "mushi-yu" is at a lower temperature and higher humidity than a normal sauna, with less strain on your circulation. It promotes healthy blood flow and sweating, all raising your metabolism. This is why it was also known as a "bijin-yu" (beauty bath) back in the day, and was even used to cure colds. We hope you'll take time to enjoy the all natural steam of the "mushi-yu", you're sure to get hooked!
(How to enjoy the "mushi-yu")
1. Before entering the steam bath, wash your whole body with the onsen water. We thank you for your cooperation in keeping the baths hygienic.
2. Confirm the temperature inside. If it's too hot, douse yourself with hot water beforehand, cold water if it's too cold.
3. 5–10 minutes is a good length of time to stay in the steam.
*A glass of water beforehand helps prevent dehydration. Take a pail of water and a towel with you. Douse the towel and place it on your mouth for easier breathing.
4. Spread yourself wide as you lie down for maximum effect.
*We ask you to mind other customers.
5. After bathing, use the onsen to wash away the sweat.
One of the key traditions of Tsuetate Onsen as a medicinal onsen is in the use of the steam to create steamed cuisine. A great variety of food can be prepped at the various "mushi-ba" installed around the town. Treat yourself to healthy, delicious steamed cooking.
The steam from the onsen at the "mushi-ba" can be used to steam potatoes, eggs and vegetables.
(How to use the "mushi-ba")
1. The steam from the mushi-ba is very hot. Take care not to burn yourself.
2. Please keep the mushi-ba clean.
3. Please take all leftovers and rubbish with you.
"Ama tamago" was a traditional dish in Tsuetate served to visitors, a type of sweet, steamed custard dish.
These days, we've adapted it into "Tsuetate pudding", combining Oguni Jersey milk, a specialty of Oguni, and the steam from the onsen.
Tsuetate pudding, combining Oguni Jersey milk, a specialty of Oguni, and the steam from the onsen. Enjoy all the original flavors developed by the chefs of the many ryokans and restaurants around.
A "sedoya" is a passageway joining the service doors of people's homes. With a hint of Showa era nostalgia, "sedoya meguri" is a guided tour of Tsuetate Onsen's sedoya, for a unique taste of the local culture that's hard to come by through normal tourism.
(Michikusa guides' association)
Contact : Tsuetate Onsen Tourism Board 0967-48-0206
Reservation : By the day before
Fee : 500JPY per person