One of Ghibli’s most successful films, Academy Award-winning Spirited Away primarily takes place in the steamy enclaves of a towering bathhouse. The surrounding onsen town is based on Gunma Prefecture’s Shima Onsen, an old-school spot tucked at the bottom of a northwestern mountain range. It’s an area already famous for onsen, but Shima’s 40-or-so springs routinely land in Gunma’s top four spots to soak. Fans of Spirited Away may recognize its red-banistered bridges and neon-lit alleys of restaurants and small shops, but the centerpiece is Sekizenkan Ryokan. The traditional inn’s multi-story structure is a dead ringer for the onsen hotel where young Chihiro/Sen experiences her spiritual odyssey.
NAVITIME TRAVEL EDITOR