How to get to Kusatsu Onsen
By train and bus via Naganohara
Trains travel as far as Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi Station, from where there are JR buses to Kusatsu Onsen (30 minutes, 700 yen). The train journey is covered by the Japan Rail Pass, JR Tokyo Wide Pass, JR East Nagano Niigata Area Pass, JR East Tohoku Area Pass and JR East South Hokkaido Pass, but the bus ride is covered only by the Japan Rail Pass, JR East Nagano Niigata Area Pass and JR East Tohoku Area Pass.
There are various ways to get from Tokyo to Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi Station. The most convenient is by direct limited express train from Tokyo's Ueno Station, requiring 2.5 hours and costing about 5000 yen for the one way trip. However, there are only around three round trips per day.
Alternatively, you can do the whole trip by local trains, which takes about four hours, requires a transfer of trains at Takasaki and cost 3020 yen one way. Faster and more expensive is taking the shinkansen to Takasaki and transfer there to a local train to Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi Station.
By train and bus via Karuizawa
Take the Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo to Karuizawa (70 minutes, around 5500 yen) and then a bus (Seibu Bus or Kusakaru Kotsu) from Karuizawa to Kusatsu Onsen (80-100 minutes, 2200-3880 yen). JR passes are not valid on the buses between Karuizawa and Kusatsu.
There are multiple direct JR highway buses from Tokyo (Shinjuku JR Highway Bus Terminal) to Kusatsu per day. The one way trip costs around 3500 yen and takes about four hours. JR passes are not valid on these buses.
Above fees and schedules are subject to change. For the current yen exchange rate, click here.
Kusatsu is a compact, small town with the yubatake (hot water field) in its center. Most attractions and ryokan in the town center are easily accessible on foot. Mount Shirane is located about a 30 minute bus or car ride outside the town center.
Map of central Kusatsu:
Map of the Mount Shirane area: