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June 23, 2015 - Kusatsu Onsen - Gunma

Kusatsu onsen in Gunma Prefecture is widely known as one of the best places in the Kanto region for high quality hot springs. The town can be reached in a little over 2.5 hours directly from Ueno station but most people catch a train to Takasaki and the catch a local train to Naganoharakusatsuguchi station followed by a 25 minute bus ride to the town centre.

Above is a picture of one of Kusatsu's most famous attractions, the Yubatake or hot spring cooling pond. The water comes out of the ground at a scorching 95 C and the cooling pond allows the water to be more palatable to the many people who visit this town.

To reach Kusatsu Onsen, I had quite a day of travelling ahead of me. First I drove 25 minutes to Tsuruoka from Haguro-san. Then I caught the Inaho train to Niigata, followed by the Max Toki to Takasaki. After this, I caught the Kusatsu train from Takasaki to Naganoharakusastuguchi and then finally the JR bus to Kusatsu Onsen. As you get guess, it was a lot of travel but a long soak in Kusatsu's excellent sulphuric hot springs made up for the long day of travel.

As I was staying two nights at Kusatsu Onsen, I decided to visit most of the sites after getting a good night sleep. I visited the following in corresponding order:

(1) Yubatake
(2) Sainokawara Park & Sainokawara Rotenburg
(3) Okatinoyu Onsen
(4) Yumomi Performance

As mentioned previously, Yubatake is the main symbol of Kusatsu Onsen. It is also ironically the most productive source of hot spring water from one place in the whole of Japan - some 5000 litres a minute! Note that there is also a free foot bath along with plenty of places to eat and buy omiyage (souvenirs)

Yubatake foot bath & apologies for the lens flares - I have a new lens filter I forgot to remove for this photo

Directly opposite the Yubatake is a small temple. The temple itself is nothing special - but climbing those 100 or so steps allows you to get a good view of the town.

A local eatery - on the second floor
You can drink but not eat at this foot spa!
Street view walking towards Sainokawara Park

Around a 10 minute walk from the centre of town is Sainokawara Park which is going through major restorations. As a result, the location is looking no-way near it's best.

Around a 5 minute walk into Sainokawara Park is the Kusatsu Visitors centre. Apart from some stuffed animals, a diorama and some explanations in Japanese, it's only worth entering for the toilets on the first floor. Free entry.

Around a 10 minute walk into Sainokawara Park is the aptly named Sainokawara Rotenburo. It costs 600 Yen to enter and you need to bring a towel with you. As I forgot my towel, I was able to buy one of the small onsen towels for 320 yen.

This rotenburo is gender segregated but note that part of the mens section can be viewed from the walkway. As the female rotenburo is on the other side - they are away from prying eyes. I'm also happy I walked past first as I knew which area not to sit in so the passers by did not see a gaijin show. Also - if you like your onsen water hot just keep moving further away from the change rooms.

A 10 minute walk from the Yubatake in the opposite direction is the Okatinoyu Onsen. It costs 900 yen to enter and towel rental is 200 yen. This onsen is most famous for the Awaseyu onsen - a group of 5 different baths with temperatures differing between 39-46 C. You are meant to sit in each bath for 3 minutes and it's meant to have many medicinal affects. Note that this is again gender segregated and also have inside and outside onsens along with a restaurant to have lunch or dinner.

The Yumomi performance is directly opposite the Yubatake and has 5-6 performances a day which lasts for around 25 minutes. It costs 600 yen to enter. 8 older women normally sing and stir the water so it cools. Also note that there is an audience participation section where you get a certificate stating that you can paddle water in front of the crowd. There is also some basic Japanese dancing that occurs as well.

Audience participation. Also note the Hiragana for "Ku" "Sa" "Tsu" on the paddles
A film crew for Gunma Tourism came to film the last 10 minutes of the performance

Even though this post may not look as interesting as previous posts - this was my most enjoyable day in Japan for this trip. There is honestly nothing as relaxing as sitting in high quality onsen water and simply de-stress. One oddity that I have noticed from time to time in Onsens is how some old men can be really chatty in onsens.

With my very limited Japanese and his non-existant English, I found out that he was here with his wife for his birthday present and that he is retired. His favourite onsen water is Kusatsu and I told him that mine was Noboribetsu. At that stage - he had stars in his eyes and he said he hoped he wanted to visit Hokkaido for the onsens at Noboribetsu and Toyo-ko.

For those who are onsen newbies, not all onsen waters are made equal. You will often read the amazing health benefits certain water have. I was a strong skeptic until I visited Noboribetsu in Hokkaido and then became a convert. For Kusatsu - the high acidity of the water leaves your skin extremely smooth.

When I leave Kusatsu onsen tomorrow, I'll be heading to Manza onsen which only has two attractions. That is - the most acidic onsen water in Japan and some nature walks. Thankfully for me, this will allow me to continue to destress after a busy year at work.

Further Information:

Kusatsu Onsen Information Centre (English): http://kusatsuonsen-international.jp/en/

Bus & Train Info to Kusatsu Onsen (English): http://kusatsuonsen-international.jp/common/pdf/upload/1404_jr_bus_go.pdf

Bus & Train Info from Kusatsu Onsen (English): http://kusatsuonsen-international.jp/common/pdf/upload/1404_jr_bus_back.pdf

Things to Do (Gunma Tourist Website - English): https://www.visitgunma.jp/cms/guidebook_pdf_dir/guidebook_95.pdf?1374727871

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List of Posts:
2018/07/18 - Hidden Honshu: Fukuyama
2018/07/17 - Hidden Honshu: Tomonoura
2018/07/17 - Hidden Honshu: Iwakuni
2018/07/16 - Hidden Honshu: Tsuwano
2018/07/15 - Hidden Honshu: Hagi's Residences
2018/07/15 - Hidden Honshu: Hagi's Shrine District & Temples
2018/07/15 - Hidden Honshu: Hagi's Castle Town
2018/07/14 - Hidden Honshu: Iwami Ginzan
2018/07/14 - Hidden Honshu: Izumo
2018/07/13 - Hidden Honshu: Yonago
2018/07/13 - Hidden Honshu: Matsue's Gardens
2018/07/12 - Hidden Honshu: Mikuni
2018/07/11 - Hidden Honshu: Awara Onsen
2018/07/10 - Hidden Honshu: Kanazawa's Museums
2018/07/09 - Hidden Honshu: Kanazawa's Samurai District
2018/07/09 - Hidden Honshu: Kanazawa's Castle District
2018/07/08 - Hidden Honshu: Sado's Shukunegi
2018/07/08 - Hidden Honshu: Southern Sado
2018/07/07 - Hidden Honshu: Northern Sado
2018/07/06 - Hidden Honshu: Getting to Sado
2018/07/05 - Hidden Honshu: Sakata
2018/07/04 - Hidden Honshu: Akita
2018/07/03 - Hidden Honshu: Kakunodate
2018/07/02 - Hidden Honshu: Nyuto to Tamagawa Onsen
2018/07/01 - Hidden Honshu: Morioka to Nyuto Onsen
2018/06/30 - Hidden Honshu: Matsumae
2018/02/23 - Southern Odyssey - Taketomi
2018/02/23 - Southern Odyssey - Ishigaki City
2018/02/22 - Southern Odyssey - Ishigaki Island
2018/02/21 - Southern Odyssey - Iriomote
2018/02/20 - Southern Odyssey - Okinawa to Iriomote
2018/02/19 - Southern Odyssey - Okinawa WW2 Sites
2018/02/19 - Southern Odyssey - Okinawa Day 5 Southern Attractions
2018/02/18 - Southern Odyssey - Okinawa Day 4 Naha
2018/02/17 - Southern Odyssey - Okinawa Day 3
2018/02/16 - Southern Odyssey - Ocean Expo Park
2018/02/16 - Southern Odyssey - Ie Island
2018/02/15 - Southern Odyssey - Okinawa Hanami Report
2018/02/15 - Southern Odyssey - Okinawa Day 1
2018/02/14 - Southern Odyssey - Amami to Okinawa
2018/02/13 - Southern Odyssey - Amami Day 3
2018/02/12 - Southern Odyssey - Amami Day 2
2018/02/11 - Southern Odyssey - Amami Day 1
2017/07/04 - Shikotsu Lake to Noboribetsu - Hokkaido
2017/07/03 - Otaru to Shikotsu - Hokkaido
2017/07/02 - Otaru - Hokkaido
2017/07/02 - Yoichi - Hokkaido
2017/07/01 - Biei to Sapporo - Hokkaido
2017/06/30 - Sounkyo Onsen to Biei - Hokkaido
2017/06/29 - Shibetsu to Sounkyu Onsen - Hokkaido
2017/06/28 - Hokkaido: Wakkanai to Shibetsu
2017/06/27 - Rebun Island - Lake Kushu & Kafuka
2017/06/26 - Rebun Island - Momoiwa Course
2017/06/25 - Rishiri Island - Hokkaido
2017/06/23 - Imaicho - Nara Prefecture
2017/06/22 - Asuka & Sakurai - Nara Prefecture
2017/06/22 - Nara Yamoto 4 Temple Pilgrimage
2017/06/21 - Yoshino - Nara Prefecture
2017/06/20 - Sakai - Osaka Prefecture
2017/06/19 - Osaka - Namba Area
2017/06/19 - Western Osaka
2017/06/18 - Kansai & Hokkaido Trip Intro & Central Osaka
2017/02/06 - Closed Kurume - Fukuoka
2017/02/05 - Miyazaki to Kobayashi
2017/02/04 - Obi Castle Town - Miyazaki
2017/02/04 - Nichinan Coast - Miyazaki
2017/02/03 - Gardens & Museums of Miyazaki City
2017/02/02 - Shrines of Takachiko - Miyazaki
2017/02/01 - Usuki City - Oita
2017/01/31 - Hita & Surrounds - Oita
2017/01/31 - Yufuin Onsen - Oita
2017/01/30 - Hells of Beppu
2017/01/30 - Oita City - Oita
2017/01/29 - Kitsuki Castle Town - Oita
2017/01/28 - Hiji Castle Town - Oita
2017/01/28 - Templing in Kunisaki Hanto
2017/01/27 - Nakatsu to Yamaga Onsen
2017/01/27 - Eastern Kyushu Trip Info & Nakatsu
2016/08/02 - Ohori Park - Fukuoka
2016/08/01 - Fukuoka's Gion Temple Cluster
2016/07/31 - Unzen Onsen - Nagasaki Prefecture
2016/07/31 - Shimabara - Nagasaki Prefecture
2016/07/30 - Nagasaki City - Northern City Attractions
2016/07/29 - Nagasaki City - Southern Attractions
2016/07/29 - Hashima - Nagasaki Prefecture
2016/07/28 - Huis Ten Bosch Day 2 (Day)
2016/07/27 - Huis Ten Bosch Day 1 (Night)
2016/07/26 - Hirado Part 2 - Nagasaki
2016/07/26 - Hirado Part 1 - Nagasaki
2016/07/25 - Gardens of Takeo - Saga Prefecture
2016/07/24 - Yutoku Inari Shrine
2016/07/24 - Ureshino - Saga
2016/07/23 - Yoshinogari Park - Saga
2016/07/23 - Saga City - Saga Prefecture
2016/07/22 - Yobuko - Saga Prefecture
2016/07/21 - Karatsu City - Saga
2016/07/20 - Mojiko - Fukuoka
2016/07/20 - Kokura - Fukuoka
2016/07/19 - Dazaifu - Fukuoka
2016/07/18 - Nokonoshima Island - Fukuoka
2016/07/17 - NW Kyushu Trip Info & Yanagawa
2016/03/02 - Shikoku Highlights
2016/02/21 - Hadaka Matsuri: Saidaji Temple Okayama
2016/02/20 - Okayama Museum Cluster - Okayama Prefecture
2016/02/19 - Marugame & Kotohira - Kagawa Prefecture
2016/02/18 - Matsuyama - Ehime Prefecture
2016/02/17 - Uchihiko - Ehime
2016/02/17 - Ozu - Ehime Prefecture
2016/02/16 - Seiyo
2016/02/16 - Uwajima - Ehime Prefecture
2016/02/15 - Kochi to Otsuki
2016/02/14 - Kochi - Kochi - Kochi
2016/02/13 - Toyo to Yasu via Aki
2016/02/12 - Naruto to Toya
2016/02/11 - Takamatsu to Naruto
2016/02/11 - Artsy Naoshima: Honmura Art Project
2016/02/11 - Artsy Naoshima: Tsutsuji-so to Miyanoura Port
2016/02/10 - Takamatsu - Kagawa Prefecture
2016/02/10 - Shikoku Trip Info & Artsy Teshima
2015/07/19 - Accommodation in Japan - Last Post
2015/07/19 - Food in Japan
2015/07/15 - Hongu Taisha - Wakayama
2015/07/14 - Shingu & Ogi Matsuri - Wakayama
2015/07/13 - Nachi Taisha & Kii-Katsuura - Wakayama
2015/07/12 - Kii-Tanabe & Kumano Kodo - Wakayama
2015/07/10 - Wacky Wakayama City - Wakayama
2015/07/08 - Tottori City - Tottori Prefecture
2015/07/06 - Izushi - Hyogo
2015/07/05 - Kinosaki Onsen - Hyogo
2015/07/04 - Yamanaka Onsen - Ishikawa
2015/07/03 - Wajima to Wakura - Ishikawa
2015/07/02 - Eastern Noto Peninsula Drive - Ishikawa
2015/07/01 - Kanazawa to Wajima - Ishikawa
2015/06/30 - Itoigawa Salt Road - Niigata
2015/06/29 - Coastal Itoigawa - Niigata
2015/06/28 - Kurobe Dam Railway - Toyama
2015/06/27 - Iiyama City & Madarao Kogen - Nagano
2015/06/26 - Rural Iiyama & Nozawa Onsen - Nagano
2015/06/24 - Manza Onsen - Gunma Prefecture
2015/06/23 - Kusatsu Onsen - Gunma
2015/06/21 - Dewa Sanzan - Yamagata
2015/06/20 - Tsuruoka to Dewa Sanzan - Yamagata
2015/06/19 - Tsuruoka Town - Yamagata
2015/06/18 - Haruna Jinja - Gunma
2015/06/17 - Japan Trip Intro, JR Pass & Yokohama
2014/10/25 - Koyo In Japan - A Collection of Photos
2014/06/22 - Narita & Sawara - My Last Post!
2014/06/14 - Yahiko - Niigata
2014/06/07 - Ajiro Onsen
2014/05/17 - Gifu City
2014/05/17 - Cormorant Fishing - Gifu City
2014/05/11 - Shorin-zan Daruma-ji Temple
2014/05/10 - Gunma Flower Park
2014/04/27 - Obuse - Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/26 - Togakushi & Nagano
2014/04/13 - Toyokawa & Toyohashi
2014/04/12 - Futagawa - Cherry Blossom Report
2014/02/09 - Ono - Fukui Prefecture
2014/02/08 - Eiheiji & Fukui City
2014/01/19 - Nokogiri-Yama - Chiba
2014/01/03 - Izumo Taisha & Adachi Museum of Art
2014/01/02 - Matsue - Shimane Prefecture
2014/01/01 - Hagi - Yamaguchi Prefecture
2013/12/31 - Yamaguchi
2013/12/30 - Akiyoshido Cave - Yamaguchi Prefecture
2013/12/29 - Miyajima - Hiroshima Prefecture
2013/12/28 - Hiroshima
2013/12/27 - Onomichi - Hiroshima Prefecture
2013/12/26 - Kurashiki
2013/12/25 - Bitsu-Takahashi: Okayama Prefecture
2013/12/24 - Kibi Plain - Okayama Prefecture
2013/12/23 - Inujima Art Park - Okayama Prefecture
2013/12/22 - Okayama
2013/12/22 - Himeji Castle & Kokoen Gardens
2013/12/21 - Shoshazan Engyogi Temple Walk - Himeji
2013/12/16 - Tsumago to Magome - Spring & Winter
2013/12/08 - Ito - Through The Seasons
2013/11/26 - Kyoto Autumn Report - Central Kyoto to Higashiyama
2013/11/26 - Kyoto Autumn Report - Arashiyama Part 2
2013/11/25 - Kyoto Autumn Report - Arashiyama Part 1
2013/11/24 - Kyoto Autumn Report - Tofukuji & Night Illuminations
2013/11/17 - Showa Kinen Koen
2013/11/10 - Kofu City - Autumn Report
2013/11/09 - Shosenkyo Gorge - Autumn Report
2013/10/26 - Hirosaki - Apples & Temples
2013/10/25 - Hirosaki Castle Park & Surrounds - Autumn
2013/10/24 - Oirase Stream - Autumn Report
2013/10/23 - Lake Towada & Yasumiya - Autumn Report
2013/10/22 - Rural Tono - Autumn Report
2013/10/21 - Tono - Shrine Cluster
2013/10/20 - Central Tono - Iwate
2013/10/19 - Urabandai - Autumn Report
2013/10/02 - Kamikochi - Autumn Report
2013/09/29 - Mito - Ibaraki Prefecture
2013/09/28 - Rural Fukuroda & Ibaraki Flower Park
2013/09/14 - Atami - Shizuoka Prefecture
2013/08/16 - Noboribetsu - Summer & Autumn
2013/08/12 - Mt Asahidake - Daisetsuzan National Park
2013/08/11 - Asahiyama Zoo - Asahikawa
2013/08/10 - Sapporo - Summer & Autumn
2013/08/08 - Lake Toya - Hokkaido
2013/08/07 - Aomori Nebuta Matsuri
2013/08/06 - Osorezan - Shimokita Peninsula
2013/08/04 - Akita Kanto Matsuri
2013/08/03 - Yumoto Onsen to Chuzenji Lake Walk
2013/07/11 - Kyoto - Daigo-ji Temple
2013/07/10 - Kyoto - Mt Hieizan
2013/07/09 - Kyoto - Ohara
2013/07/07 - Kyoto - Koryuji Area
2013/07/06 - Uji - Summer
2013/07/05 - Hikone
2013/07/04 - Kyoto Station & Surroundings Attractions
2013/06/01 - Tokyo Parks & Gardens - Part 2
2013/05/26 - Tokyo Parks & Gardens - Part 1
2013/05/19 - Ouchijuku (Fukushima)
2013/05/18 - Aizu Wakamatsu (Fukushima Prefecture)
2013/05/13 - Geibi-kei Gorge & Ichinoseki
2013/05/11 - A Rainy Hiraizumi
2013/05/07 - Matsusaka Walk
2013/05/06 - Nara - Horyuji Temple & Koriyama Area
2013/05/05 - South West Nara Temple Trail (Golden Week)
2013/05/04 - Ise Naiku & Geku Shrines (Golden Week)
2013/04/29 - Western & South Eastern Kamakura Bike Ride
2013/04/28 - Yamadera Mountain Temple - Spring
2013/04/27 - Yamagata Cherry Blossom Report
2013/04/27 - Yonezawa Cherry Blossom Report
2013/04/20 - Nikko's Main Temples & Shrines
2013/04/20 - Nikko - Gardens & History Walk
2013/04/14 - Meiji Mura Park - Inuyama
2013/04/13 - Inuyama Town & Castle
2013/04/05 - Koyasan - Okunoin Temple & Temple Stay
2013/04/04 - Koyasan Bike Ride: From Daimon to Karukayado
2013/04/03 - Nara Park Cherry Blossom Report
2013/04/02 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report - Kiyomuzi & Nanzen-ji
2013/04/02 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report - Philosophers Trail
2013/04/01 - Kyoto Report - Temples, Shrines & Geisha
2013/03/30 - Furukawa - Takayama's Impressive Little Brother
2013/03/27 - Hakone Day Tour Loop
2013/03/26 - Cherry Blossom Report - Odawara Castle
2013/03/23 - Cherry Blossom Report - Yokohama @ Honmoku
2013/03/16 - Kamakura - North Western Bike Ride
2013/03/11 - Shimoda & Irozaki Coast
2013/03/09 - Minami-Izu Cherry Blossom Festival
2013/03/09 - Kawazu Cherry Blossom Matsuri & Kawazu Falls
2013/03/08 - Kamakura - Hase Area Walk
2013/03/03 - Kawaguchiko - Fuji Five Lakes
2013/02/24 - Kawasaki - On & Off The Beaten Track
2013/02/17 - Yamagata - An Unexpected Day Trip
2013/02/16 - Half of Yamadera & Zao Snow Monsters
2013/02/15 - Sendai - Winter
2013/02/14 - Matsushima - Winter
2013/02/09 - Yamanouchi Snow Monkeys & Nagano Zenkoji Temple
2013/02/06 - Shizuoka - Temples & Plum Blossoms