We enjoyed the best hot springs, saunas and views in Saitama for less than 3,000 yen
The search for a cheap personal care destination? That could be it.
The weather is finally starting to cool down in Japan, and that means it’s time to do hot baths and saunas a regular thing. But with tried-and-tested onsen near Tokyo becoming scarce, it can be hard to know where to go.
So our local and Japanese-speaking reporter from Saitama Prefecture, Masanuki Sunakoma, decided to have a weekend of sauna and hot springs in his home prefecture, making two stops which he says in were worth: Iruma no Yu and Miyazawa Lake Onsen Kirari Villa.
Iruma no Yu was Masanuki’s first stop, located about two kilometers (1.24 miles) from Iruma-shi Station in neighboring Saitama Prefecture. There was a large indoor public bath, an outdoor public bath, and three types of saunas.
The entrance fee? Only 450 yen (3.96 USD)!
▼ Towel rental and a bathrobe to wear inside were available separately for 280 yen each.
This would probably explain why it was difficult to find a parking space at 3:00 p.m. on a Saturday. Masanuki noted that most of the license plates came from nearby Tokorozawa, which meant it was a hotspot (no pun intended) for locals. In fact, when Masanuki entered the main men’s bath…
▼ …it absolutely was packed up with other naked guys.
He counted at least 50 people in there, and he estimated that most of them were locals. Can you fault them for wanting to dip for such a low price, though?
▼ He couldn’t take any pictures inside because, you know, a lot of naked guys, but here’s the general vibe.
After Masanuki finished his first bath in the bath, he decided to try out the three different saunas included in the offer. It started in the stadium sauna, where four rows of six-seater benches were lined up with people boiling hot. 90 degrees Celsius (194 degrees Fahrenheit) heat. Their favorite entertainment was silently watching a baseball game on television.
▼ Imagine bathing here.
Ten minutes of gentle sweating passed before he cooled off in a bath of cold water (about 18 degrees Celsius, 64 degrees Fahrenheit) for a few minutes until he felt like he wasn’t sweating anymore buckets.
The next sauna he tried was the salt sauna. While watching the golf course, he rubbed salt all over his body to remove dead skin and excess oil. Another ten minutes, and the salt sauna was over.
Masanuki also tried to brave the steam sauna, but since it was the most popular, he could only slip into it for a moment. He gave up and went to the stadium sauna instead. He repeated the steaming and cooling process about four times before being satisfied.
▼ To conclude, he drank this dark apple vinegar drink for 100 yen.
At such a reasonable price, it would be nice to be a regular. It is also located near popular Saitama destinations such as Costco and the Mitsui Outlet Park.
▼ You can take a cheap bath and then do bulk shopping!
The next day, Masanuki headed to Hanno Town in Saitama, otherwise known as the home of Moomin Valley Park. But he wasn’t here to see Moomin today – he was here to enjoy luxurious natural hot springs.
Next to Moomin Valley is such a place called Miyazawa Lake Onsen Kirari Villa. Located 15 minutes by bus from Hanno station, it is quite accessible.
▼ And if you come by car, parking is free!
During this onsen, he had the choice between a simple class for 1,050 yen or a relaxation class (rock bath included) for 1,550 yen. He decided to go with the simple course to see how far he could stretch his money.
▼ He could also enjoy the outdoor bath and two types of saunas on the Simple Course, so it seemed like a good deal to him.
The real charm of this hot spring location is the view. It overlooks Lake Miyazawa and the scenery has been compared to the Scandinavia of Japan.
▼ This might explain why Moomin Valley Park is nearby.
▼ They even have hammocks on the balcony!
After soaking and steaming some more, Masanuki stopped at the lake restaurant Miyazawa Onsen for their famous Shio Koji Karaage Fried Chicken Meal (940 yen). Soaking and steaming can take a lot out of you, so Masanuki enjoyed the hearty meal.
▼ He liked everything so much that he stayed there for a total of five hours.
He also noted that the onsen had Wi-Fi, so you can swim and work if you want. Masanuki noticed that it started getting crowded as it got dark, so he recommends visiting in the afternoon if you’re going on a weekend.
▼ And if you go at the right time, you can see this beautiful sunset.
▼ He also recommends enjoying a nice honey lemon drink after your soak and sweat session.
So if you are looking for a steamy onsen to hang out with, Masanuki recommends Iruma no Yu. If you want to treat yourself to a day of luxury and relaxation cheap, it looks like going with Miyazawa Lake Onsen.
They may not be among the most popular in Japan, but they are certainly accessible and affordable!
Iruma no Yu / 入間の湯
Address: Saitama-ken, Iruma-shi, Kasugacho 1-11-10
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Miyazawa Lake Onsen Kirari Villa / 宮沢湖温泉 喜楽里別邸
Address: Saitama-ken, Hanno-shi, Miyazawa 27-49
Open daily from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.