Ikaho Onsen

Historic hot spring bathing in healing gold and silver waters

Ikaho Onsen is a renowned hot spring resort located in the foothills of Mount Haruna in Gunma Prefecture, japan. It is famous for its unique hot springs, which are known for their healing properties and vibrant colors. The town is surrounded by natural beauty, including a beautiful lake and several outdoor attractions, making it a popular destination for both locals and tourists.

The hot springs of Ikaho Onsen are known for their distinctive colors, with some baths offering golden-colored waters and others offering silver-colored waters. These colors are a result of the high iron content in the springs, which is said to be beneficial for the internal organs and helps to warm the body from the inside. The healing properties of the hot springs have attracted visitors for centuries, and Ikaho Onsen has become a popular destination for those seeking relaxation and rejuvenation.

One of the must-try experiences in Ikaho Onsen is bathing in the gold and silver waters of the different baths. Each bath has its own unique charm and atmosphere, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the therapeutic waters while enjoying the tranquil surroundings. The onsen manju confections, which are steamed buns filled with red bean paste, are also a popular treat in Ikaho Onsen and can be found in various shops throughout the town.

Getting to Ikaho Onsen is relatively easy. The town is served by buses from nearby Shibukawa Station, as well as highway buses from Shinjuku. From Takasaki Station, which is just an hour away from Tokyo on the JR Joetsu shinkansen, visitors can take the JR Joetsu Line to Shibukawa Station and then board a connecting bus to Ikaho Onsen. For those coming from Shinjuku Station, express buses are available and take a little over two hours to reach Ikaho Onsen.

One of the highlights of Ikaho Onsen is the Stairway to the Heavens, a staircase consisting of 365 steps that leads upward about 300 meters to Ikaho Shrine. The staircase was initially built during the late 16th century by the military leader Sanada Masayuki to make the healing springs more accessible to injured soldiers during the Warring States period. Today, the staircase is not only a symbol of the town but also a popular attraction for visitors. Climbing the stairs is highly recommended, as it offers a rewarding experience and allows visitors to enjoy the hot springs afterward.

Ascending the stairs is also an opportunity to immerse oneself in the local culture by strolling through the town in a traditional cotton yukata. The steps are lined with souvenir shops, lodgings, restaurants, and free public foot baths, providing plenty of opportunities for visitors to relax and enjoy the atmosphere. At the top of the steps, visitors will find Ikaho Shrine, a sacred place considered a “power spot” by locals. Climbing the 365 steps to the shrine is said to improve one’s fortunes, making it a popular pilgrimage site for those seeking blessings and good luck.

Ikaho Onsen offers more than just hot springs and stairs. The town is also home to various attractions that cater to different interests. One of the best photo spots in the town is Kajika Bridge, an arched red bridge that creates a striking contrast with the surrounding greenery in summer and blends in perfectly with the foliage in fall. The bridge is a popular spot for photographers and nature enthusiasts alike.

For those interested in art and history, the Hara Museum ARC, a modern art museum, and the Ikaho Toy, Doll & Car Museum are worth a visit. These museums showcase a diverse collection of artworks and artifacts, providing insights into the local culture and history. Additionally, Lake Haruna, known for its ice fishing, and the impressive Haruna Shrine, located a short drive away from Ikaho Onsen, are also popular attractions in the area.

It is worth mentioning that Ikaho Onsen has a unique connection to Hawaii. Robert Walker Irwin, the Kingdom of Hawaii’s minister to Japan, built a summer home in Ikaho Onsen in the 1880s, leaving a lasting influence on the town. To celebrate this connection, Ikaho Onsen holds a Hawaiian festival every summer, where visitors can experience Hawaiian culture and traditions.

In conclusion, Ikaho Onsen is a historic hot spring resort that offers a unique and rejuvenating experience. From its healing gold and silver waters to its picturesque surroundings and cultural attractions, the town has something for everyone. Whether you are looking for relaxation, cultural exploration, or a connection to Hawaii, Ikaho Onsen is a destination that should not be missed. Plan your visit and immerse yourself in the healing waters and rich history of this charming town in Gunma Prefecture.

Address And Maps Location:

541-4 Ikahomachi Ikaho, Shibukawa-shi, Gunma-ken

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