Kusatsu Onsen 草津温泉
Healing geothermal waters and fun festivals in a secluded mountain onsen resort
Stroll down charming alleys in your cotton yukata and wooden sandals breathing in the aroma of Kusatsu Onsen, an authentic onsen town in Gunma Prefecture .
- The yubatake hot water fields in the center of town
- Cracking open an onsen tamago—eggs boiled in the hot spring water
- Satisfying your sweet tooth with traditional onsen manju sweets
- A trip to Sainokawara Park
How to Get There
Although there is no train station in the town, Kusatsu is still easily accessible.
The most convenient way is by rental car, taking in the beautiful scenery along the Japan Romantic Road linking Nagano, Gunma, and Tochigi. From Tokyo, the journey takes around three hours, or from the shinkansen station in Takasaki, it takes around one and a half hours.
There are direct buses from Shinjuku Bus Terminal. Take the JR Joshu Yumeguri-go bus to Kusatsu, via Ikaho Onsen. One way is 3,200 yen and 5,600 yen return.
The nearest train station is Naganohara Kusatsu Station. It takes around two and a half hours from Ueno by direct express train (4620 yen). From there, take the connecting 25-minute bus ride to Kusatsu (670 yen).
Events in Kusatsu
Yubatake Special Light-Up (March)
Flower Festival (May)
Shirane Shrine Festival (July)
Hot Spring Appreciation Festival (August)
Kusatsu International Music Academy and Festival (in August)
The Yubatake hot water fields
This large hot water system is the symbol and heart of Kusatsu Onsen. The distinct aroma will guide you to the yubatake—literally translated as hot water field — in the center of town. 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 the natural mineral content.
Hot steam billows as the water gushes down into the emerald reservoir. Kusatsu has the highest water output of any onsen in Japan. With high temperatures (around 55 degrees Celsius) and high acidity, the water is said to cure many conditions and is especially good for your skin. Several Tokugawa shoguns had the water transported in barrels to their castle in Edo (now Tokyo).
Hot spring traditions
From the yubatake, you can easily stroll to Netsunoyu hall to watch the yumomi performance. Onsen workers cool the water by dipping and turning wooden planks, churning the water to the rhythm of a folk song. You can get a chance to try the rhythmic cooling, but it's harder than it looks. There are also several free public onsen baths around the center of town; you can find details at the information center next to the yubatake.
Strolling and shopping
Take the narrow alley near the Netsunoyu and explore the quaint arts and crafts shops, featuring milky glass inspired by the waters. Be sure to try onsen manju (steamed sweet buns) and onsen tamago (eggs boiled in the hot springs). Follow the alley all the way to Sainokawara Park, an open area where natural hot water surfaces in several pools.