For the past several years, Japan’s summers have been incredibly hot. In fact, from the end of the rainy season in late June through August, we often say “atsui desune” (“it’s hot, isn’t it”) instead of more standard greetings like “konnichiwa.”
Though the locals here think it’s quite warm in Shima Onsen, those who come visit from the hotter Kanto Plain area always tell us how cool it is here.
Part of the reason it’s so cool here has to do with our elevation (about 650 meters). However, an even bigger factor is the fact that the Shimagawa River, famous for its Shima Blue water, runs alongside the onsen town.
The water of Shimagawa River is cold even in summer, and the wind that blows from the river envelops Shima Onsen Town. It’s just like a natural air conditioner!
There are many areas near the river in Shima to enjoy the cool weather.
Ishigashira no Sawa is located across from Asahi Bridge, and its water runs into the Shimagawa River.
Ishigashira no Sawa is very close to Kashiwaya Ryokan, making it perfect for a morning or evening stroll. You can play in the water there, and there is also an abundance of fish that you can catch. If you are in the area now, you can enjoy the bamboo lanterns as well.
About 1.5 meters down-river from Kashiwaya you can see natural pools in the Shimagawa River called oketsu. Recently you can even see people swimming in these pools.
Shima Oohashi Bridge is located along Kokudo (National Highway) 353. The view from this bridge really allows you to take in the cool atmosphere of Shima. The nearby Momotaro no Taki Waterfall is also quite a sight, so make sure to check it out while you’re there.
We also recommend playing in the Shimagawa River just behind Kashiwaya Cafe. You can get into the river right from the parking lot and due to the shallow, gentle current of the river, it’s safe even for children.
In fact, you can see visitors swimming in the river there almost every day in summer.
This post is all about Shima’s natural AC. Well, nothing fits that description better than Gongenzawa. Head toward Kashiwaya Cafe from Kashiwaya Ryokan, and you’ll find this pool between Shiraiwa-kan and Morimata Ryokan. Walk around here for a little while and your body will be cooled by the refreshing breeze from Gongenzawa. What a perfect way to revitalize yourself on a hot day!
Shima Lake is just 8 km south of Shima Onsen. Here you can enjoy canoeing, standup paddleboarding, and other fun activities to cool off!
There are also the two waterfalls, Maya no Taki and Ogura no Taki, as well as Okushima Lake and other smaller bodies of water in the area. All of these waters that flow into Shimagawa River, as well as the river’s offshoots, are what help cool the overall Shima Onsen area.
If you come to Japan during the sweltering summer, why not come to Shima Onsen just a few hours north of Tokyo to take in the cool air?
We’ll be waiting to welcome you all when you come!
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