Through woods in Aomori -
From Hakkoda to Towada :
Sugayu Onsen Hot Spring
(Aomori city, Aomori, Japan)

In the prime of winter, the news programs frequently pick up the Sugayu Onsen Hot Spring as "the snow accumulates so deeply". The annual average snowfall is 1760 cm, and the maximum snow accumulation is 566 cm deep. The fact that snow is deepest in Japan as a place where people live permanently also has the possibility of settlement where the snow accumulates most in the world, and now the news of the Sugayu Onsen Hot Spring may be the real feeling of winter in the world rather than that in Japan.

When taking a bus from Aomori station, crossing the Aomori city and entering in the mountain, beech forest appeared on both sides. On the way, except for the Jyogakura Onsen Hot Spring Hotel and ropeway station, no artifacts appeared at all and only beech forest continued with Mt. Hakkoda seen occasionally from the break of the forest. When I sat beside the bus window, it was like a moving forest bath. After 70 minutes of such bus travel, the bus arrived at the Sugayu Onsen Hot Spring Ryokan (Japanese style inn). In the winter, because of snow, the road is closed between the Hakkoda Hotel just above and the Tsuta Onsen Hot Spring on the side of Towada city beyond the mountain.

The Sugayu Onsen Hot Spring was discovered in 1684. After that, a cabin built around the hot springs was the origin of the present hot spring Ryokan by the cooperation of the five families of the cabin owner. Later it came to have a ryokan which developed to the present ryokan. Farmers in the Tsugaru plain at the foot of Mt. Hakkoda specially prefer this hot springs and the Dake Hot Springs at the foot of Mt. Tsugaru as the place to go to a hot-spring vacation in the agricultural off-season.

In the winter, it was closed for a long time, but in 1954, the owner bought a snowplow from the Japan Railways, and it opened for business in the winter season. And it was the same year that it received designation of "the first national sanctuary hot spring area".

However, there was a time when sales during the winter suffered from the damage by a bad reputation. It was for a while since the movie 'Mt. Hakkoda' was released in 1977. It made a film of an incident that the army soldier of 199 people died during the snow military exercise at Mt. Hakkoda. The influence of this movie was serious. The number of guests decreased extremely and there was the period when there were only few guests because they thought it was very scare to go to such dangerous place. It is awesome influence of mass media.

It was also the mass media that recovered that. As every year the news came to tell about the deepest snow accumulation in Japan recorded in the Sugayu Onsen Hot Spring, that produced a big publicity. Now in the winter, it continues to be fully booked.

The charm of the Sugayu Onsen Hot Spring Ryokan is a large hot spring bathhouse called as "Bath for One Thousand People" made of Japanese cypress and guest rooms with the atmosphere of the rural hot spring resort. It is a pity that the lobby is being refurbished with new construction materials and woodgrain tones cloth, but if entered in "Bath for One Thousand People", they must forget silly things. The size is about 250 m2. Surrounded by windows on three sides, both floor and wall are boarded and wet in brown with steam, and there are four different hot springs with hot water, cold hot water, moderate hot water and hot spring fall which sources are different. The huge bath tub is also made of Japanese cypress. The atmosphere is very good.

The real bathing capacity of "Bath for One Thousand People", is said as 80 people, yet it is one of the leading sizes among the inner baths in Japan. After autumn, due to the temperature difference with the outside, the room feels much bigger since it gets dim with steam. It is famous for mixed bathing and has a time zone exclusively for women, but during autumn and winter, there is no problem because visibility is very low with steam.

The ingredient of the hot spring is an acid sulfur. It is turbid in white and smooth. It would become a suitable temperature while pulling up from the source to here ? It was comfortable even if I bathed long. The inside of the bathhouse was filled with the smell of sulfur, and a sulfur odor rose from the body when I went out from the hot water. I realized the efficacy.

However, the strength of sulfur ruins the employee's cars immediately and the life of the guest room TV is also 1 to 2 years. In addition, since it is built on the river, the building is moist and fragile, but it can not be rebuilt because it is in the national park. But, despite the severe condition such as snow, sulfur and moisture, the power of the wooden space that is distorted but survived for a long time is the charm of this hot springs.

In recent years, Aspirin Snow of Mt. Hakkoda attracts foreigners, but European and American guests don't select the Hakkoda hotel, which the same owner manages, but the Sugayu Onsen Hot Spring Ryokan. The reason must be because it reflects the climate of this region and is the space of hot spring that they can only meet here.

By the way, when going out from the hot water, I noticed the paper on the wall. It wrote that"When this cold water is poured after bathing on the central part, it will be fine." Please be fine.

To Japanese Version

Google Maps

From Tokyo to Aomori
by train
: 3 hours 20 minutes from “Tokyo Station” to “Shin-Aomori Station” by Shinkansen (high speed train), one service per one hour. Then, 10 minutes from “Shin-Aomori Station” to “Aomori Station” by local train connected with Shinkansen, one service per one hour .
by air : 1 hours 20 minutes from “Tokyo Haneda Airport” to “Aomori Airport”, about 6 services ecah day. 30 minutes by bus from “Aomori Ariport” to “Aomori Station”.

From “Aomori Station” to "Sugayu Onsen Hot Spring Ryokan"
70 minutes by bus from "Aomori Station" or " Shin-Aomori Station" to "Sugayu Onsen", 3 - 5 services per day. Only a short walk from the bus stop.

Sugayu Onsen Hot Spring

Aomori City Office
Aomori City Guide

Aomori Sightseeng Guide

Acoommodations in Aomori

Sugayu Hot Spring
"青森県の歴史散歩" (青森県高等学校地方史研究会編, 山川出版社, 2007) 
"郷土資料事典 青森県" (人文社, 1998)

2018.01 Photos in English version, and photos and text in Japanese version


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Sugayu Hot Spring

Photo by Daigo Ishii