Fireworks are definitely one of the special components that makes the ‘summer’ in Japan. The history of Japanese fireworks dates back to 500 years or more, and so many people visit the big annual event, the firework festival. Likewise, Onsen, the Japanese Hot Spring, is another treasure that makes Japan as an attractive destination. It can be appreciated throughout the year, and is certainly one of the best holiday options in the summer. Well, let’s see how you can enjoy both at the same time!
#1. Gero Onsen – Gifu
Photo Credit: gero-spa.com
Gero Onsen is by far one of the famous hot springs in Japan. It is the biggest attraction place in Gifu prefecture, and you would see why as soon as you step into the town. The texture of the water is thick compared to others, but never hesitate to go in because this is the hot spring known as “the spring of beauty.”
The firework festival in Gero is held twice every year (summer & winter) and the scale would go beyond your expectation. If you miss it in a summer time, you might be lucky to come back in winter to see the rare combination of fireworks and our all-time favorite, cherry blossoms. It will be completely packed during the firework season so check your diary and book it in advance to avoid any disappointment!
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Address: Gero-shi, Gifu Prefecture, 509-2206
Access: Walking distance from JR Takayama Line Gero Station
Phone: 0576-25-2541 (Gero-Spa Tourist Information), 0576-25-2064 (Gero-Spa Ryokan’s & Hotels association)
Website: Gero Onsen
#2. Atami Onsen – Shizuoka
Photo Credit: Kzaral@Flickr
Last but not least, Atami Onsen is a highly recommended destination for the Onsen-Fireworks tour. Not only that it has a convenient access from Tokyo, the quality of water and the well located accommodations are perfectly setting out the wander-friendly Onsen town for you. The springs close to the ocean contain more sodium whilst they change to sulphate springs as you go more towards the mountain sides. Hence, you can enjoy the different types with different sceneries.
This year, the firework festival will be spread over 7 days in total, and each of them has about 5000 fireworks at one night. So called “Niagara River in the Sky” is a 1km-long firework, and definitely is a marvelous sight worth watching.
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Address: Atami-shi, Shizuoka Prefecture, 413-0012
Access: Walking distance from JR Tokaido Shinkansen/ JR Tokaido Line Atami Station
Phone: 0557-81-5141 (Atami Hot Spring Ryokan and Hotel Association)
Website: Atami Onsen
#3. Ogoto Onsen – Shiga
Photo Credit: oogotoonsen.com
Ogoto hot spring is located in the west side of the Lake Biwa, the largest freshwater lake in Japan. Having its history of over 1200 years, the place was rapidly developed to be a popular hot spring sight in the early 20th century. The water quality is very mild and known to smooth up your skin, so most of the Onsen hotels’ owners never use a facial cream! Unlike some hot spring sites, all of the accommodations offer the 100% pure hot spring without adding any water.
Photo Credit: hanakaido.co.jp
This year’s firework festival is due on the 1st of August that will be launched just alongside the Ogoto Hot Spring Harbor. The double fireworks you would find in the sky as well as on the surface of the lake would definitely make your fireworks experience something different.
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Address: Ogoto, Ōtsu-shi, Shiga Prefecture, 520-0101
Access: Walking distance from JR Kosei Line Ogoto Onsen Station
Phone: 077-578-1650 (Ogoto Onsens Tourist Association)
Website: Ogoto Onsen (Japanese)
#4. Oyu Onsen – Niigata
Photo Credit: niigata-onsen.info
Niigata prefecture is one of the best firework heavens in Japan. This particular hot spring area called Oyu Onsen is sourced with its natural water from the spring that has been discharging it for at least 800 years. The Onsen downtown has nature in the background and the surroundings, and the beautiful landscape is another factor to attract constant visitors both from the local and the outside area.
Photo Credit: pref.niigata.lg.jp
Although it is rather a small scale Onsen town, the firework festival is held in the mid-August every year. You can enjoy the dynamic boom of fireworks echoed in the mountains through the clean air.
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Address: Oyu Onsen, Uonoma-shi, Niigata Prefecture, 946-0088
Access: Tram ride from JR Urasa Station or JR Koide Station
Website: Institute Uonuma Tourism Organizations (Japanese)
#5. Shirahama Onsen – Wakayama
Photo Credit: tocoo.jp
Want to try all of the above, but not too keen to travel a lot from cities? Then try to visit Shirahama Onsen in Wakayama prefecture. With just an hour journey by flight from Tokyo or comfortable 2 hours trip by a bullet train from Shin-Osaka, one of the oldest hot spring towns will welcome you with an amazing ocean view. Having many foot bath spots throughout the town, it might be hard to pick which spot you go for your bath time.
The area is also well known for the seaside exploration, and the firework festival is held in the Shirarahama sea shore close to the town. Here, you can even gift a tailored firework with a message to whomever you want to. How romantic! This place is a complete package of a summery beach, traditional hot spring, and fireworks bit more personal.
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Address: Shirahama-chō, Nishimuro-gun, Wakayama Prefecture, 649-2211
Access: 10 minutes bus ride from JR Kinokuni Line Shirahama Station
Website: Shiraham Onsen