During the Edo Period, the Confucian Poet Hayashi
Razan referred to Gero Onsen (下呂温泉) as one of
Japan's three best onsen. Over the years the area
became more urbanized, but the waters have retained its
special quality, which has made them so famous. The
name Gero translates to "lower bath", but the
pronunciation is the same as the slang term for "vomit".
The hot springs receives more than one million visitors
per year and continues to be ranked as one of the best in
Japan. Gero is located between Nagoya and Takayama.
It is approximately an hour south of Takayama. This
makes it a convenient stopover, or an attractive
alternative to stay during the Takayama Festival, when
lodging is difficult to find in Takayama.
There are three public bath houses available in Gero. Located at the south end of the Gero Bridge, there is a large rotenburo (open-air bath) that is free to bathe in; however, it has no facilities and can be seen from the bridge above. A good way to sample some of these hot springs is to purchase a Yumeguri Tegata (spa pass), a wooden tablet that can be bought all around Gero including the tourist office, ryokan, souvenir shops and convenience stores. The Yumeguri Tegata allows you entry to three of thirty participating ryokans. It costs 1300 yen and is good for six months and makes a great souvenir. Also dotted around the city are free footbaths where one can sit and relax after a hard day of walking.