Zao Onsen is said to have opened in 110 AD and is a hot spring area at the west foot of the 1900-year-old Zao mountain range.
The spring water is strongly acidic and effective against skin diseases. It is also called “Hime no Yu” (“The princess’s water”) because it has a whitening effect and is known as a hot spring for beautiful skin.
You can enjoy beautiful scenery all year round at this nationally famous tourist resort, and in winter it is crowded with visitors wanting to see the snow monsters or just enjoy winter sports.
Introducing unique gems of Zao! !
Public bath houses
There are three public bath houses, which anyone can enjoy.
The temperature varies depending on the venue, so it is recommended to try all of them.
● Uwanoyu public bath house
● Shimonoyu public bath house
● Kawaranoyu public bath house
Open: All year
Admission: 200 yen for adults, 100 yen for children
Tel. 023-694-9328 (Zao Onsen Tourism Association)
Onsen hopping vouchers
This is a voucher for day trip baths at 26 inns and hot spring facilities of Zao Onsen.
Price: 1,000 yen (for 2 bathing vouchers)
* Each facility has different bathing times and usage methods.
For details, please see the Zao Onsen Tourism Association website.
You can also purchase a plain kokeshi doll and experience painting it.
Kokeshi doll painting: 240 yen * Kokeshi doll fee is required separately.
Tel. 023-694-9386 (Tanaka Kokeshi shop)
Please call first if you want to do the kokeshi painting activity.
There are three foot baths that you can enjoy during your walk.
● Shimoyu foot bath
● Robata-mae foot bath
Open: All year
● Yunohana Teahouse Shinzaemon's foot bath
Open: all year except winter
Hours: Weekdays 10:00~18:00 Weekend and holidays 10:00~21:00
Igamochi is a traditional and popular souvenir from Zao.
The three mochi rice cakes are on a leaf of kuma bamboo grass from the mountains of Zao.
They contain strained bean paste with a mild sweetness and decorated with yellow rice grains in the image of rice ears.
Make sure to eat them on the day you bought them as no additives are used.
Otherwise they will harden.
So please enjoy the freshly made ones at Zao!
Many people think that the jingisukan dish (lamb BBQ) comes from Hokkaido, but in fact there have been shops offering it Zao for quite a while now.
The jingisukan of Zao Onsen uses soft lamb meat with little of the strong peculiar taste of lamb.
The helmet-shaped grill made from Yamagata casting provides even cooking and removes excess fat, giving the dish its popularity.
Yamagata Sake Museum
You can enjoy sake from 49 breweries of Yamagata Prefecture at the Yamagata Sake Museum and local food at the Yukemuri Yatai Tsumami eatery.
Prices range from 300 yen to 900 yen (50 ml), of which 42 types are 300 yen.
You can compare sake from Yamagata prefecture and if you are lucky, you can also try famous sake which are difficult to obtain, like the Juyondai.
Come find your favorite sake or choose one as a gift.
Currently, there are three styles of kokeshi doll in Yamagata: Hijiori, Yamagata and Zao.
The Zao kokeshi is characterized by its thick body and sense of volume.
It is said there is now an unprecedented kokeshi boom, and many people are once again addicted to their charms.
It might be interesting to take this opportunity to rediscover them.
Snow monsters & ropeway
About 18 minutes by the Zao Ropeway from the hot spring village there is a large panoramic area of snow monsters.
At night, the trees are illuminated and you can see the rime of the trees rising up fantastically up close.
The best time to see them is from late January to early March.
Come appreciate these art works created by nature.
- Zao Onsen
Zao Onsen, Yamagata City, Yamagata Prefecture
- 023-694-9328 (Zao Hot Spring Tourism Association) 023-694-9328 (Zao Hot Spring Tourism Association)
- Official site
The hot springs of Zao Onsen are known as “springs for beautiful skin.”
It is said that the strong acidic sulfur spring water has a blood circulation promoting effect, as well as a bactericidal properties on the epidermis and a strengthening effect on the skin.
Sulfate / chloride
Source temperature & pH
45℃ to 66℃ & pH 1.25~1.6
Cuts, burns, chronic skin diseases, frail children, chronic women’s diseases, diabetes, hypertension, arteriosclerosis, neurosis, muscle pain, arthralgia, frozen shoulders, motor paralysis, joint stiffness, bruises, lottery, chronic digestive organs disease, hemorrhoids, coldness, post-illness recovery period, fatigue recovery, health promotion
People with skin or mucosal hypersensitivity, especially those with photosensitivity, xeroderma in the elderly, acute illness (especially when fever), active tuberculosis, malignant tumors, severe heart disease, respiratory failure, renal failure, Hemorrhagic disorders, severe anemia, and other commonly ongoing disorders, during pregnancy (especially early and late)