Last Updated: Nov 17, 2023

Shuzenji Onsen

One of Shizuoka’s Best Hot Spring Towns

Donny Kimball
7 min readNov 24, 2022

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A Japanese bridge crosses a river in the center of Shuzenji, one of the most famous and oldest hot springs in Japan
This story was originally published on donnykimball.com and has been syndicated here on Medium

There are a lot of great hot spring towns within the vicinity of Tokyo. Both for day trips and overnight stays alike, you’ll find a wide host of options on offer nearby Japan’s capital. For those looking for something a little more quaint and mature, a more famous onsen resort like Hakone can be a little bit too lively. Luckily, Shizuoka Prefecture’s Shuzenji Onsen is just what the doctor ordered. Located on the Izu Peninsula, this hot spring can be easily reached from Tokyo and is definitely a place to consider next time you’re in Japan.

As a town, Shuzenji Onsen has a ton of history to it. The hot spring haven allegedly dates back to the 800s. According to a local legend, it was founded by the legendary monk Kukai on one of his adventures across Japan. Seeing a man bathing in a cold river, the benevolent Buddhist struck a rock with a ritualistic instrument that’s used in religious ceremonies. From the resulting hole, hot water gushed forth. In honor and in thanks of this new geothermal source that he had created, Kukai created a temple nearby and this was the start of the town of Shuzenji Onsen. Since then, the village has had an unbroken history of soothing soakers’ worries.

Geologically speaking, Shuzenji Onsen is a hamlet that is part of the Amagi volcanic mountain range. Located in the heart of Shizuoka Prefecture’s Izu Peninsula, Shuzenji Onsen lacks the ocean views that you might find at other hot spring towns down in this part of Japan. Thankfully, the river that runs through Shuzenji Onsen coupled with its secluded vibe more than makes up for this. Trust me when I say that my recommendation today can easily compete with any of the Izu Peninsula’s seaside options. In fact, Atami aside, I might go as far as saying that it is my favorite hot spring in the prefecture.

By the way, the astute readers and fellow temple fans out there will notice that I am opting to write the name of today’s topic as “Shuzenji.” Normally, when it comes to Buddhist establishments, I like to hyphenate the “-ji” suffix but it seems that the whole English speaking world has already settled on using Shuzenji instead of Shuzen-ji. To not confuse the search engine algorithms, I’ll maintain the status quo…

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Donny Kimball

I'm a travel writer and freelance digital marketer who blogs about the sides of Japan that you can't find in the mainstream media. https://donnykimball.com/