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History of Hakuba Happo-one's Hot Spring

Since the area was first settled, the residents of Hakuba Happo-one have dreamt of drawing water from the source of an onsen (hot spring) high up in the mountains down to the village. After a number of failed attempts, it seemed that this dream would turn to reality at the end of the 19th century, but the construction works were overshadowed by a tragic accident.

In the spring of 1875, 60 people started to realize a project to draw down water from the source of the hot spring located at 2,100 m of Mt. Yari. After 2 km of bamboo pipes were already laid, a massive avalanche hit the construction site in November of the same year. Since 21 people lost their lives, the project was put on hold for over a century.

About five decades later, Matsuzawa Teiitsu (1889-1926), a well-respected mountaineer and the founder of the tourist association of Hakuba, established a mountain hut with an adjoining open-air bath near the source of the hot spring Hakuba Yari Onsen. Since then, it has become known as one of the highest outdoor hot spring resorts in Japan and a popular destination for both mountaineers and onsen lovers.

It took another 60 years until a new plan was created to draw water from the hot spring's source. Finally in 1983, the excavation of the source on the south side directly under Hakuba Yari Onsen succeeded. A few years later all the pipes were laid and the concept of turning Hakuba Happo-one into an onsen resort took form. The project transformed the town with dozens of lodging facilities, including hotels, ryokan (Japanese-style inn) and minshuku (Japanese-style guest houses run by families), as well as four public hot spring facilities, which were connected to the hot spring opening. Eventually the century-long wish of the locals was granted.

Now, the little onsen town is popular for the anti-aging effects of its beautifying baths. Due to the strong alkaline hot water with a pH of over 11, bathers find that their skin becomes very smooth and soft. And even more, bathers also claim that the additional health benefits of the onsen water supports the healing process of muscular pain, nerve damage, and more. If you're not comfortable entering an onsen, where you'll usually be expected to bathe naked, you can enjoy the hot water at one of the free foot baths sprinkled across the village.

Obitana no Yu

Obitana no Yu

This little outdoor hot spring facility is located about 3 km away from the center of Hakuba Happo-one and is the closest one to the source. The baths are basic, but surrounded by abundant nature, making them an ideal place to fully unwind. The large serpentinite rock, which divides the two bathing areas, adds to the natural atmosphere. Should rain or snow fall, Obinata no Yu will provide traditional bamboo hats for cover, making it a special experience year-round.

The best time to enjoy this little oasis is during the winter, when visitors can book the entire snow-surrounded baths for private evening dips. Normally onsen (hot spring) facilities have different areas for each sex, as bathers are expected to be naked, but swimwear is allowed during these special sessions, meaning you are able to enjoy the cozy bath together with your friends, family, or partner.

The facility's natural hydrogen water is said to have anti-aging effects through antioxidant actions. You can even take a sip of the water at the little tasting corner next to the entrance. Nevertheless, you should dilute the onsen water with normal tap water before drinking it, as the alkalinity pH value is around 11.
*The hydrogen concentration at Obinata no Yu's hot spring tap rises to 250 ppb (parts per billion).