Soak Away the Day in the Hot Springs of Oboke Gorge and the Iya Valley – Part 1



Relaxing in one of Miyoshi City’s hot springs (onsen) is one of the nicest ways to enjoy the area as you enjoy the views of nature from these thermal baths. In this series we visit three more of Miyoshi’s hot springs in the Oboke Gorge and Iya Valley areas that are open to day-time visitors as well as overnight guests.

Conveniently situated within the beautiful Oboke Gorge, the hot springs of the Obokekyo Mannaka Hotel offer wonderful baths with great “insider” views of the gorge.

Sooth yourself in natural wooden tubs with amazing views at the Obokekyo Mannaka Hotel & Onsen

This hotel and onsen facility is located at the confluence of the majestic Yoshino River (which creates Oboke Gorge) and the Fujikawadani River, and is just a couple minute drive away from JR Oboke Station (it is even possible to walk here from the station in about 15 minutes).

The hot springs here occupy the bottom levels of the hotel, and after passing through the changing rooms you first encounter their stylish indoor baths and sets of individual washing stations.

The main pool here has a very relaxed atmosphere and graceful setting, with calm lighting and some lovely natural decor.

Enjoy the soothing elegance of natural “hinoki”

A wood-lined staircase leads down from here and lets out below unto their open-air baths that are situated on a picturesque covered balcony.

There are two types of tubs on offer here as well as a broad wood deck which allows you to sit and relax in the fresh air as you alternate between the two baths and take in the stunning views.

The circular “oke-buro” (bucket tub) is a one-person bath that is made entirely from “hinoki” cypress wood, and lets you personally relax as the water falls over you from the wooden spout.

The main tub lets you stretch out even further and is also made of “hikoki” cypress wood. Actually, all of the wood in the outdoor baths was recently changed in the past year, so it still maintains its delightfully natural fragrance that fills the whole room and becomes apparent the moment you enter the space here.

The view here looks out onto the forest-enclosed confluence point of the Yoshino and Fujikawadani Rivers and across into Oboke Gorge, and at the time of visiting, the autumn leaves were starting to increase in color. But no matter what the season, the view is always “gorgeous”.

Deep heating stones

Back upstairs at the indoor bath, also on offer is the somewhat rare-to-find “ganban-yoku” (literally “stone plate bathing”). This sauna-like room has high humidity and sets of flat, heated stones to lie down upon. 

It is not overly hot inside the room (about 40 C), but doing a few repeated cycles of bathing and meditative stone heating is understood to give deep therapeutic affects.

After enjoy yourself at the baths, you can take a break back up in the lobby upstairs, where they have an exquisite traditional-style relaxing room.

For those looking for lunch, the Obokekyo Mannaka Hotel does wonderful set meals by advanced reservation, or instead you can go practically across the street to their second location (the Mannaka Service Area) which has a large restaurant serving a variety of local foods (no reservation needed).

Also at the Mannaka Service Area is the launching point for the Oboke Gorge Pleasure Boats, which do spectacular 30 minute tours along the Yoshino River through the fantastic rock formations of the gorge.

The Obokekyo Mannaka hot springs are open daily to non-guests of the hotel from 12:00 noon to 8:00pm and cost 700 yen per person (children 350 yen).

To use the “ganban-yoku” sauna room there is an additional fee of 700 yen for an 80 minute session and for non-guests of the hotel it is available from 12:00 to 4:20pm.

(Hotel guests can use both the hot spring baths and the “ganban-yoku” sauna for longer periods into the night as well as in the morning.)

So when visiting the Oboke Gorge area, be sure to sooth yourself in these baths overlooking the river while you also enjoy the geologically stunning landscape!

For more information, check the Obokekyo Mannaka website:

And for info about the Iya Valley and Oboke Gorge areas in English, check the IyaTime website:

(Text by: Shaun Lamzy, Photos by: Shaun Lamzy & Obokekyo Mannaka)