Confession time: I used to live in Gunma Pref. This article may contain bits of reminiscent prefectural pride.
Kusatsu Onsen in Gunma is one of the best places in Japan.
If you have been on this website before, or been on it at all you may know that I am a bit of an onsen fanatic.
I love them. I try to go every week, or at least every month.
For any of you completely clueless as to where Kusatsu is, it is the top right corner of Gunma prefecture, about 2.5-3 hrs away from Tokyo by bus. Buses are available from Shinjuku station.
Mascot character of Kusatsu, she is one of the ladies that cools down the onsen water so that humans don’t get boiled alive.
They do a show for tourists in the center of town.
Some soba I had in the restaurant that has the view below.Since I was in the mountains I decided to order 山菜そば (Mountain Veg Wheat Noodles)
This is the center of the town of Kusatsu. It’s the spring water flowing out into different places in town. The spring flows into almost every hotel and 18 different places where you can take a bath ( for free) The only sad thing is that it makes everything smell like sulfur.
It was really amazing how clear the hot spring water was…Too bad I couldn’t take a picture of an onsen tho..
Building where they perform the cooling of the water.
After eating I trudged over to my hotel, 民宿美山 (Minshuku Miyama). I don’t really know what the exact term is for a “minshuku” is but I would call it somewhere between a hotel and a hostel. I got this room and 2 meals for 7,400 yen. Which was the cheapest I could find for location+meals included.
The food was all home-cooked. It wasn’t fancy, but it was tasty and filling, so I was pretty satisfied.
There is a pretty big water spring park in the main part of Kusatsu. You can feel the natural warmth of the water in the stream. There is also an outdoor hot spring (Sainogawara) where, for a 500 yen, anybody can come in and soak.
After bathing approximately 12 times, I decided that I should try and look around the area. The most popular location, when it isn’t winter and you can’t ski, is Mt. Shirane. A volcano with lakes on top. One is a very peculiar lake…
This is the natural color of the lake. It smelled strongly of sulfur. Don’t ask me specifics….
I think it is pretty and that is what I know. Also, do not bathe in it. Buses routinely go up to the top of Shirane all through the summer and fall.
Going back home. The gorges and twisty roads here are quite beautiful and famous for drag racing. The popular manga series, GTO, was drawn by a nearby resident. Gunma is car country. And this is a car playground…
(Luckily, I never had the chance to drive in Gunma, I hear it can be bad).
If you are interested in onsen, but don’t want to go out to Gunma, you are in luck.
(My personal fav is the 2nd one on the list. Very very nice, but gets crowded on weekends)