What’s a kid-friendly hot springs resort?

By on January 31, 2018

Not all hot spring resorts in Japan are suitable for kids. When in doubt, Japanese parents ask the Onsen Sommelier Kyokai (Onsen Sommelier Association).  The word “sommelier” is a Japan-specific term for “knowledgeable” and has nothing to do with wine.  By Japanese standards, an onsen has to be at least 25C (or higher) and must contain at the very least, any one of 19 trace elements such as iron, lithium, sodium chloride, sulfur and etc.

For parents introducing natural onsen-bathing to their children for the first time, the association advises parents to go for least densely populated resorts. Water at these places is usually pristine and odorless that makes for a pleasant first experience.  Some hot springs have a unique odor and color that  children might not be able to tolerate.

While taking the family out to a hot spring resort may mean having fun with toys like “water guns” etc.,  you may be disappointed. Japan does not allow kids to bring in such toys as a customary rule.  If you have hyperactive children, go for luxury accommodations with a private onsen inside the room although some hotels  restrict the use to children aged 12 and above for safety reasons.  However, there’s always room for negotiations. What’s not are the accommodation rates.  Generally, the price of a hotel for grade school students is 70% of adult price and 50% for infants.

If you use regular accommodations, go for large family ryokans that have ample play space for children.

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