'Tis the Season to Soak in Hot Springs

A relaxing bath at an outdoor hot spring on a snowy day can make for a great holiday, which is one of the main reasons why the peak season for travelling to Japan falls in January and February.

The country boasts over 3,000 hot springs, with about 60 open to Korean tourists on tour packages.

People enjoy bathing in a hot spring in Okuhida, Japan. /Courtesy of Hana Tour People enjoy bathing in a hot spring in Okuhida, Japan. /Courtesy of Hana Tour

Hana Tour, the biggest travel agency in Korea, recently conducted a survey of 107 industry experts to determine the top locations to enjoy the island country's natural springs.

Kurokawa in Kyushu was voted as the No. 1 pick, followed by Hakone and Kobe's Arima. The latter is generally regarded as one of the top three ancient hot springs in Japan.

Famous hot springs are scattered across Kyushu, especially the city of Beppu. These, together with the region's mild climate, lure tourists from all over the world. Kurokawa is a village full of hot springs that frequently gets mentioned as one of the best spots in the country for this kind of vacation.

Hokkaido, which boasts just as many hot springs, is praised for its natural surroundings and regional cuisine. It offers a diversity of seafood including snow crab and scallops.

Hakone in Kanagawa is just a one-hour drive from Tokyo and is a great place to soak up some of Japan's breathtaking natural scenery. No vacation here would be complete with a trip to Owakudani Valley, which was created from volcanic eruptions about 3,000 years ago, and a cruise boat tour of Lake Ashi that takes in unforgettable views of Mt. Fuji.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jan. 23, 2014 09:58 KST