Yamagata Prefecture is famous for having an Onsen (hot spring) in every municipality, from the biggest city, Yamagata City, to the tiny Yuza in north Shonai. Tsuruoka is home to three (!) Onsengai or hot spring towns; Yutagawa, Yunohama, and Atsumi, that have each been around for centuries. The difference between Yutagawa and the other two, besides being inland, is that during the economic bubble in the 80s, Yutagawa stubbornly refused to expand to allow more people to stay by purposely not building giant Onsen buildings that are popular in other Onsengai. If you visit places like Yunohama or Atsumi, or perhaps Kinugawa Onsen in Nikkō, or other towns that are relatively easily reached by car from Tokyo, you will see many massive Onsen buildings that are dilapidated and in desperate need of repair. I have a lot of respect for the town of Yutagawa because of the decision they stuck to years ago, although I do enjoy a good Onsen anywhere! I particularly love being in a Rotenburo, an outdoor hot spring, while the snow slowly falls from the sky. What about you? When’s your favourite time for an Onsen?
Read more about this amazing place at thehiddenjapan.com.