Even if you do not have beautiful facial features, people say you’re beautiful if you have beautiful skin, right? Zao Onsen is very famous for “beauty-making hot spring.”
Zao Onsen is located in the southeastern part of Yamagata City, Yamagata Prefecture, at the western foot (elevation 880m) of the Mount Zao range. It has been called “Takayu” for a long time, and it is the old hot spring with major five hot spring groups and 47 hot springs. Its history is more than 1900 years.
The hot spring town of Zao Onsen has many hot spring facilities for a day trip, such as public baths and footbaths. So, even if you do not stay overnight, anyone can enjoy Zao Onsen. The water is a strong acid sulfur spring, and you can feel a unique smell of sulfur when walking the hot spring town. It has been called “Beauty-making hot spring” for a long time.
Zao Onsen is in the Zao Quasi-National Park. Zao Onsen is a hot spring resort that you can enjoy for all seasons, such as trekking from spring to summer, enjoying autumn leaves in fall, skiing and snowboarding at the ski resort in winter, and observing the world-famous Juhyo, Rime on trees. You can enjoy those activities by taking ropeway from the hot spring town.
According to the legend back to 110 AD, Kibino Tagayu, who served Yamato Takeru during the conquest of East Japan, found Zao Onsen. A wounded Kibino Tagayu takes a bath, which tasted like vinegar, and his wound healed in a few days. It is said that the name “Takayu” came from his name Tagayu. In the hot spring town, there is a strong acid river called Sugawa (vinegar river).
If you want to go “Okama,” where is a symbolic place of Zao, take a ropeway to the top of “Mount Jizo” (elevation 1736m) and go to “Kumanodake” (elevation 1841m), the highest peak of Zao. Once you go down from the top of Kumagadake, you will see “Okama.” It is a two-hour trekking one way. If you are not confident in your physical strength, you can get to Okama by 40 minutes’ drive from Zao Onsen. (The road will be closed during the winter.) Once you get off the car, it takes 5 minutes’ walk to the observation deck of Okama.
From Zao Onsen, you can take the ropeway to “Dokkonuma Swamp.” There are benches and tables around the shore of the swamp, so you can take a rest while looking at the beautiful scenery. A walking path is maintained in the surrounding area to enjoy the view.
The “Zao Onsen Ski Resort” is one of the largest ski resort in Japan. The ski slope stretches from the hillside to the foot of Mount Jizo. There are 14 slopes and 12 courses. Among them, the Juhyogen course (Rime on trees field course) is the symbol of the Zao Onsen ski resort. From January to early March, you can see unique Rime on trees in this course.
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