Even if you’ve tried the famous hot spring resorts around Japan, you’ll still fall in love with Tottori’s less touristy alternative. Misasa Onsen Town benefits from fantastic springs which have been used for over a thousand years, as well as a wealth of natural and cultural beauty around the town.
The story of the town’s foundation is the subject of an interesting local legend. The story goes that a samurai in the Heian period, around a thousand years ago, was heading to nearby Mt. Mitoku when he crossed paths with a white wolf. He spared the wolf’s life, believing it to be the manifestation of a mountain god, and as a reward he was directed towards these hot springs in a dream.
One of the hot springs in the town is said to be the very one he was sent towards, marked out by a tree whose branches hang above. This is but one of a number of baths, including a public mixed-gender one which is located right in the middle of town (within view of passers-by!). If you’re a little shy for that, consider heading to one of the fantastic ryokan inns for a more secluded dipper or just enjoy one of the free public foot baths.
The town also has a nostalgic avenue called Showa Street decimated to mid 20th century Japan. Here you can visit some themed shops, see a bizarre exhibition of tofu-based sculptures, and even visit an old-school arcade to play games of days gone by (we’re talking way pre-Mario Bros).