Sightseeing in Nagano: Shibu Onsen (渋温泉) - Vikingess Voyages

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Sightseeing in Nagano: Shibu Onsen (渋温泉)

For people taking the trip to Yudanaka to see the bathing monkeys in Jigokudani there are not too many options for other things to do in the area unless you, for instance, go skiing in Shiga-Kogen. Last week during my Nagano trip we were a bigger group, which made it harder to coordinate the sightseeing with skiing, so instead, we spent our leftover day walking around in the area of our ryokan hotel Aburaya Tousen. About 15 minutes away from Yudanaka by foot you can find the historic Shibu-Onsen (渋温泉) area that is mainly famous for its 9 small hot springs. But even if you're not interested in public hot spring baths in the first place you'll find gorgeous old Japanese architecture that will make a stroll in the area well worth your time.
The mascot of Shibu Onsen, Shibuzaru-kun
The Shibu Onsen hot spring resort area has a history that is nearly 1300 years old, and if you take a stroll along the old traditional streets you can old houses and ryokans where it seems like time has been standing still for hundreds of years. It is a very small town, and in 10 minutes you would probably be able to walk down the 600 metre long main street.
The local Shiga-Kogen beer
On a side note local draft beers called "ji-biiru" (地ビール, local beer/microbrew) have recently been gaining popularity all across Japan. For those who like to try out local beers a trip to Nagano would not be the same without a taste of the Shiga-Kogen beer which comes in 3 different flavours. Good thing that Japan isn't that strict when it comes to alcohol, as we could enjoy a drink while strolling down the old streets.
But the main attraction for most people who visit Shibu Onsen is the nine public bath houses, which are said to have various medical effects. These baths are used by the locals every day, and as a tourist you could try to visit all nine bath houses in one day. This is popular among visitors to Shibu Onsen, and is referred to as "Kyu-to meguri" (九湯めぐり), or the "tour of the nine baths". It is said that a person who succeeds in completing the whole bath house tour will gain good fortune. 
Tourists dressed in yakuza robes doing an onsen meguri
Onsen Tamago - hot spring eggs
Outside one of the ryokan hotels we also discovered a mini-hot spring where they sell eggs boiled in hot spring water known as onsen-tamago (温泉卵 - hot spring egg).
Up in the mountain side you can also find a little shrine called Shibuya Shrine (渋湯神社). If you walk to the top you can enjoy the nice view of the Shibu Onsen area.
Either way, if you find yourself in Shibu Onsen and for some reason figure out there's no time to try out the Japanese hot spring baths you could always end the day with a hot foot bath instead. In our case we ended up going back to our ryokan hotel and use the onsen there instead, but who knows, next time it might be interesting to try the "Kyu-to meguri".!
For those who prefer alternatives to the Japanese hot spring it is possible to enjoy a nice and warm foot bath instead.
View of Shibu Onsen from the Onsen-ji temple

Basic Info

Place Shibu Onsen (渋温泉)
Location 2 km from Yudanaka station (about 20 min walk)

Related blog posts

Recommended Hotels in Shibu Onsen

Aburaya TOUSEN
Aburaya Tousen
 → review
Yudanaka Seifuso HOtel
Yudanaka Seifuso
Yorozuya Ryokan
Yorozuya Ryokan
jinpyokaku honten
Jinpyokaku Honten

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Thank you for reading! Please feel free to leave any comments or questions below
- Anette

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About Anette
Anette came to Japan as an exchange student in 2010, met the love of her life and got stuck. From her base in Tokyo she writes about her experiences as a full-time worker in Tokyo and about her travels in Japan and abroad. She's a free-spirited adventurer who enjoys both the great outdoors and her urban lifestyle.

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About Me

Adventures ofAnette

A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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