Kusatsu Onsen

Healing geothermal waters and fun festivals in a secluded mountain onsen resort

Kusatsu Onsen, located in Gunma Prefecture, is a charming onsen town known for its healing geothermal waters and vibrant festivals. This secluded mountain resort offers a unique and authentic Japanese experience, where visitors can stroll down charming alleys in their cotton yukata and wooden sandals, breathing in the aroma of the hot springs.

The town of Kusatsu is easily accessible, despite the absence of a train station. The most convenient way to reach Kusatsu is by rental car, allowing visitors to enjoy the beautiful scenery along the japan Romantic Road that connects Nagano, Gunma, and Tochigi. From Tokyo, the journey takes approximately three hours, while from the shinkansen station in Takasaki, it takes around one and a half hours. Alternatively, there are direct buses available from Shinjuku Bus Terminal. Travelers can take the JR Joshu Yumeguri-go bus to Kusatsu via Ikaho Onsen. The nearest train station is Naganohara Kusatsuguchi Station, which can be reached by a direct express train from Ueno in approximately two and a half hours. From there, a 25-minute bus ride connects travelers to Kusatsu.

Kusatsu is not only famous for its healing geothermal waters but also for its vibrant festivals. The town hosts several events throughout the year, including the Flower Festival in May, the Shirane Shrine Festival in July, the Hot Spring Appreciation Festival in August, and the Kusatsu International Music Academy and Festival, also held in August. These festivals offer visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the local culture and witness traditional performances and ceremonies.

One of the highlights of Kusatsu Onsen is the yubatake hot water fields. This large hot water system serves as the symbol and heart of the town. The distinct aroma of the geothermal water will guide visitors to the yubatake, which translates to “hot water field.” Here, geothermal water rises to the surface straight from the source and is cooled as it runs along a series of connected wooden chutes, while maintaining its natural mineral content. The sight of hot steam billowing as the water gushes down into the emerald reservoir is truly mesmerizing. Kusatsu Onsen is known for having the largest amount of naturally occurring hot spring water in Japan. With high temperatures of around 55 degrees Celsius and high acidity, the water is believed to have healing properties and is especially beneficial for the skin. In fact, several Tokugawa shoguns had the water transported in barrels to their castle in Edo, now known as Tokyo.

Visitors to Kusatsu Onsen can also experience traditional hot spring rituals. From the yubatake, it is easy to stroll to Netsunoyu Hall to watch the yumomi performance. Yumomi is a traditional technique where onsen workers cool the water by dipping and turning wooden planks, creating a rhythmic motion accompanied by a folk song. This unique performance showcases the harmony between tradition and nature that is deeply ingrained in the culture of Kusatsu.

Aside from the hot springs, Kusatsu offers opportunities for strolling and shopping. Travelers can explore the narrow alleys near the Netsunoyu and discover quaint arts and crafts shops that feature milky glass inspired by the waters of Kusatsu. It is highly recommended to try local delicacies such as onsen manju, steamed sweet buns, and onsen tamago, eggs boiled in the hot springs. The alley leads all the way to Sainokawara Park, an area where steamy hot spring water naturally gushes out. This park provides a peaceful escape from the bustling town, allowing visitors to relax and enjoy the serene surroundings.

In conclusion, Kusatsu Onsen is a hidden gem nestled in the mountains of Gunma Prefecture. Its healing geothermal waters, vibrant festivals, and traditional hot spring rituals make it a must-visit destination for those seeking an authentic Japanese experience. Whether you choose to soak in the healing waters, witness the traditional yumomi performance, or explore the charming alleys and shops, Kusatsu Onsen offers something for everyone. So, don your cotton yukata, slip on your wooden sandals, and immerse yourself in the tranquility and beauty of Kusatsu Onsen.

Address And Maps Location:

Kusatsu-machi, Agatsuma-gun, Gunma-ken

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