My Tokyo Guide
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Updated: May 17, 2019
Think onsen, or hot springs, and far-flung locales spring to mind. But you can enjoy a relaxing outing to a rural onsen just out of the metropolis and return back to central Tokyo all within half a day. Head to the Akigawa Valley, a leafy woodland in the Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park, and you'll find the Seotonoyu Spa, a hot springs facility popular with locals and visiting downtown types.
Take the JR Chuo Ome Line bound for Ome Station. Transfer at Haijima Station for the Itsukaichi Line bound for Musashi-Itsukaichi Station.
A transport hub for the greater Akigawa Valley region, make sure to visit the tourist information office inside Musashi-Itsukaichi Station for maps and brochures on local attractions. Head to the bus terminal outside and catch a bus from Terminus 1.
Take the bus and get off at the Jyurigi stop and walk toward Ishibunebashi Bridge.
Surrounded by lush forests, never-ending mountain ranges and with the babbling Akigawa River below you, cross this 96-meter suspension bridge and you'll forget that you're just an hour's train ride away from central Tokyo. In autumn the scenery is especially spectacular, with the mountains covered in hues of golden reds, yellows, oranges and browns. Walk along the bridge to reach the Seotonoyu Spa but don't forget to take photos of your serene surroundings along the way.
There are many ways to discover the pleasures of the Japanese bath at Seotonoyu Spa. The sulphuric waters here are renowned for their alkaline and curative properties. Brave the elements in the outdoor bath or rotenburo, where you can enjoy soaking surrounded by snow in mid-winter, or enjoy the views from inside at indoor baths. The spa also operates a beauty salon—think massages, basic body treatments—as well as cafes and restaurants.