Soak Away the Day in the Hot Springs of Oboke Gorge and the Iya Valley – Part 2



Relaxing in one of Miyoshi City’s hot springs 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.

Enjoy the natural baths overlooking the tranquil Matsuo River in the “Little Iya Valley”

The Matsuo River connects with the Iya River near the base of the Iyakei Gorge area at the village of Deai. The Matsuo Valley formed by the Matsuo River goes deep into the mountains and is adjacent to the main Iya Valley. Full of natural beauty and only sparsely populated, the Matsuo Valley also takes the nick-name “Little Iya Valley”.

Located about 2.5km up the Matsuo River from its confluence at Deai is the charming Matsuogawa Onsen. Surrounded by dense forests and situated right beside the river, the hot springs here offer a serene escape from just about anywhere.

The hot spring building is traditional style with separate baths for men and women, and inside you will first find a tidy changing room.

The main hot spring baths aren’t particularly huge, but the view overlooking the Matsuo River is fantastic. 

For sure, after just a few minutes in the main tub you will become absorbed by the natural splendor of the river and surrounding forest outside.

Wonderful Water

Another fantastic feature of the hot springs here is the water itself. Renowned for its therapeutic affects and enrichment to the skin, people travel from across Japan to soak in the waters of Matsuogawa Onsen, sometimes spending several days with repeated bathing cycles in order to absorb all the natural benefits.

But even after just one bath you are sure to feel the effects, as you skin will retain a silky smoothness for hours after getting out.

With a faint aroma of sulfur and high alkaline content, the water seeps from the ground nearby and is not mixed with other water or chemicals. 

And though it only comes up from the ground at a lukewarm temperature, it is further heated naturally via a wood fire. Just next door to the main building it is easy to see the giant firewood stockpiles taken from the surrounding forests.

Take an extended break

For those looking to stay for a night (or three), just next to the bathhouse is the lovely Shirasagi-so Hotel, which offers traditional style rooms and equally wonderful views. 

With affordable rates and fully equip kitchens for guests to prepare their own meals, the hotel is specifically set up for people who prefer to spend more than just one night while they eat, rejuvenate, and take a bath as they please.

The Matsuogawa Onsen is open all year, but closed on Wednesdays (but if the Wednesday is a National Holiday, then it is open), and it is also closed for a couple days before and after New Years Day.

The hot spring baths are open to non-guests of the hotel from 10:00am to 8:00pm, and the fee is 520yen per person (320 yen for children). Soap and shampoo are available, but you should bring your own towels.

The hideaway hot springs of Matsuogawa Onsen not only offer therapeutic waters enclosed by natural beauty, but the location is just a few minute drive from the Iyakei Gorge and the rest of the Iya Valley, making it a great base for exploring the area.

For more information, check the Matusogawa Onsen 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 & Matsuogawa Onsen)