Sealed away in the mountains of Yamagata, this hot spring resort town seems to have gone totally unbothered by the past few centuries. Its historic white-plaster ryokan inns run along a narrow stretch of the Ginzan river, crisscrossed by old wooden bridges and lit with cast iron street lamps. It doesn’t take long to understand why Ginzan Onsen is considered one of the most picturesque hot spring towns in the country.
Visiting in winter is highly recommended, as its nostalgic, picture-postcard effect is enhanced even further by the snow settling on the rooftops. A large number of these ryokan open their baths to day visitors, so you could easily spend two days or more exploring all of the hot springs that the town has to offer. Aside from the traditional inns, the town also has a pair of public baths to enjoy too, and a free foot spa.
If you want a little break from all that rejuvenating rest, the area also has some lovely walking trails. Head to the 22m tall waterfall at the back of town, and you’ll find a trail leading to the old silver mines around which the town was originally built 500 years ago.