Travel

Search
Region
Kanto
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Maebashi
Population
2,024,820

Kusatsu Onsen

Bathe like royalty and experience the local longtime tradition of yumomi.

The healing power of Kusatsu Hot Spring is so treasured that Japan’s first, eighth and 10th shoguns had shipped the thermal water to Edo Castle to bathe in it.

The revered hot spring area in Gunma Prefecture (also known as Kusatsu Onsen) is located just two and a half hours from Tokyo by car.

Soaking in the culture at the Kusatsu Onsen

Kusatsu Hot Spring — one of Japan’s most famous hot springs along with Gero and Arima Onsen — owns its reputation, thanks to the immense quality and quantity of spring water which are believed to have healing properties. Its acidity is strong enough to instantly kill several bacteria, such as E.coli and to treat inflammations.

Yubatake onsen

Photo by: Ruxandra Florea Yubatake osen

At Kusatsu, you can also find a unique type of onsen water that’s source is a hot crater lake called Lake Yugama. Located 1,200 meters above the sea level on top of Mount Shirane (also known as Mount Kusatsu-Shirane), it is only 30 minutes away by bus from the main tourist area. With moon-like scenery, the white rocks on the mountaintop and the emerald green water of Lake Yugama make you feel otherworldly. Yugama is also known to be one of the most acidic lakes in the world.

Once finished with your visit to Mount Shirane, you can take the bus back to the main tourist area of Kusatsu city.

Back in Time

The small town of Kusatsu has a historic feel to it. Just strolling around the old-world streets will allow you to experience true Japanese culture through the mixture of hot springs, restaurants, local shops and even beautiful nature. If you are looking for some souvenirs, you can find Kusatsu Yunohana bath salts and the famous onsen manju (sweet bean cakes) at the local street shops.

The heart and soul of Kusatsu

In the center of Kusatsu city is the main area, Yubatake (translated in English as “hot water field”). A source of hot spring waters for nearby hotels, Yubatake is a unique place where you can observe the sulphuric waters coming down from the nearby Mount Shirane.

Yumomi

Photo by: Duke Yuin Yumomi performance

The active volcano (which last erupted in 2018, after more than 30 years of inactivity) gives the water an extremely hot temperature (about 70 degrees Celsius) and makes it impossible to take a bath at that temp. That’s why the locals of Kusatsu have developed the technique called yumomi. This describes the process of stirring bathwater using wide wooden planks in order to cool it down instead of adding cold water which would compromise the purity of it. You can observe this local tradition at Netsu-no-yu, a local onsen next to Yubatake.

Around Yubatake, you can also dip your toes in the public foot baths. While you soak your feet in the super hot water, you can mingle with other tourists and start new friendships while in Japan.

Yubatake

Photo by: Ruxandra Florea Foot bath at Yubatake

The best time to admire Yubatake onsen is during the evening. Once the sun sets, multicolored lights around the hot spring turn on and the scenery becomes magical.

Topics: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Trivia

Soaking in the culture at the Kusatsu Onsen

Stepping into one of its many nearby ryokan is almost like stepping back in time at the Kusatsu Onsen.

More

Things To Know

Fees and hours

The Yumomi performances at Netsu-no-yu can be watched six times a day (9:30 a.m., 10:00 a.m., 3:30 p.m., 4:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m). The admission fee for adults is ¥600 and ¥300 for children.

Lake Yugama

From late April to mid-November, visitors are unable to reach the Lake Yugama due to road closures. However, there is the Mount Shirane Ropeway that may be open.

How To Get There

By train

From Ueno Station ride the Limited Express Train Kusatsu (about two hours and half; ¥4,750) or the JR Takasaki Line and JR Agatsuma Line (about three hours and 15 minutes, ¥3,020) to Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi station. From the station, take the JR bus to Kusatsu Onsen (around 30 minutes; ¥700).Yubatake is a 5 minute walk from the Kusatsu Bus Terminal.

By bus

You can take the JR highway bus from Shinjuku JR Highway Bus Terminal to Kusatsu (around four hours; ¥3,300). From Karuizawa, ride the Seibu Kogen Bus or the kusakaru Kotsu to Kusatsu Onsen (around one hour and 20 minutes, ¥2,200-¥3,880).

You can reach Mount Shirane by bus from Kusatsu Bus Terminal to the Shirane Resthouse (around 30 minutes, ¥1130).

By car

Kusatsu Onsen is a 2 hour-and-25 minute drive from central Tokyo.

Where To Stay

Yubatake Souan
  • Kusatsu 118-1 Agatsuma-Gun-Kusatsu-Machi, Gunma 377-1711
  • 8.6/10
  • 0.0 km
Powered by Booking.com
Daitokan
  • Kusatsu 126 Agatsuma-Gun-Kusatsu-Machi, Gunma 377-1711
  • 7.2/10
  • 0.1 km
Powered by Booking.com
Naraya
  • Kusatsu 396 Agatsuma-Gun-Kusatsu-Machi, Gunma 377-1711
  • 8.7/10
  • 0.1 km
Powered by Booking.com
Yakushi no Yu Yumotokan
  • Kusatsu 366 Agatsuma-Gun-Kusatsu-Machi, Gunma 377-1711
  • 8.6/10
  • 0.1 km
Powered by Booking.com