Australian expat and Nagano Prefecture resident Peter Ninnes has published “Nagano Onsen Guide: The Top 100 Day-Use Hot Springs,” providing detailed reviews and information in English on a wide variety of hot spring establishments.
Using local publications and web sites, and information from local residents and friends, Ninnes researched hundreds of hot springs. Over a 15-month period, he visited more than 140 establishments catering for day visitors, and tried out most of the baths. He then compiled his top 100, based on a range of criteria, including setting, architecture, water quality, history, remoteness, or uniqueness.
Some hot springs are in hotels and inns that only allow overnight guests to use their onsen baths. In a bonus final chapter, Ninnes details five elegant accommodation establishments that provide an unforgettable overnight onsen experience.
“Nagano is less than two hours from Tokyo by train so it is very accessible for weekends or day trips,” Ninnes says. “It has some of Japan’s best winter sports facilities and summer hiking, which can be complemented with onsen-hopping for relaxation and recuperation.”
In addition to location maps, high-quality color photographs and detailed English descriptions, the book includes the name of each establishment in Japanese, addresses and telephone numbers, entry prices, opening hours, directions by car and public transport, GPS coordinates, descriptions of the types of baths and water qualities, and information about other facilities provided such as restaurants, lockers, and vending machines. For the uninitiated, there is also a guide to how to use a Japanese bath.
About the author
Originally from Adelaide, South Australia, Ninnes has lived in a diverse range of countries including the U.S., Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and East Timor. He has lived in Japan since 2007, and during that time he has soaked in more than 220 hot springs, climbed about 70 mountains, visited or passed through every prefecture, forgotten almost as many kanji as he has learned, and eaten all sorts of amazing delicacies. He also has traveled extensively in North America, Southeast Asia, Europe, Australia and the Pacific. He has worked as a science teacher in four different countries, and as a university professor, and he now does educational consultancy work in between writing travel books.