One of the most famous onsen resort of Japan! In mountainous Gunma, Kusatsu Onsen is one of the favorite destination of bath lovers, even ranked as the country’s number one according to Japanese newspaper Kanko Keizai. The spring holds many virtues and emerges in the city center, where a huge complex of pools and canals is used to cool down the waters. Which creates a unique volcanic atmosphere we did not expected to find in the middle of Kusatsu. And the place is one of the 100 Heisei landscapes.
Once again, Kusatsu Onsen is not yet famous among foreign travelers, but we really enjoyed it. Four hours away from busy Tokyo, the onsen resort is thus convenient for a two or three days short trip.
Kusatsu’s spring has an impressive rate of flow, right in the middle of the city, which allows many hotels, public baths and ryokan to offer a wide variety of bath without any debit restriction. The waters are coming from neighboring vulcano Kusatsu-Shirane and naturally flow between 50°C and 95°C. In the past, they were cooled down using a special technique called “Yumomi”. It had now became a touristic attraction, with daily demonstrations (six per day at 9:30am, 10am, 10:30am, 3:30pm, 4pm and 4:30pm – 600 yen per person).
Let’s stroll around Kusatsu.
Bathing in Kusatsu outside of the accomodations where one is staying, is possible until 8~9pm in some public baths. Each evening, the guests from the many hotels and ryokan are enjoying the night outside in yukata – which is a pleasant way to finish the day and discover Yubatake’s lightning.
How to get there?
Located in Gunma prefecture, Kusatsu Onsen is not too difficult to reach from Tokyo. The easiest (and cheapest) is the highway bus, which runs from Shinjuku bus terminal for a 4 hours-long journey (3300 yen).
Another option is the train. From Tokyo or Ueno stations, first take the JR Hokuriku or Joetsu Shinkansen to reach Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi (or even Karuizawa). Buses are running from these two stations. The total price is then 6000 yen for a 3 hours journey.
Renting a car should also be considered, which allows to drive to Mount Kusatsu-Shirane (about 30 minutes from Kusatsu Onsen) and hike around the volcano.