Yugama Crater Lake
Important Notice:
Mount Shirane erupted on January 23, 2018 around Kagamiike Pond near the Hon-Shirane summit. The volcano's alert level was raised to level 3. In case of possible further eruptions, there is a danger of falling rocks within a 2-kilometer radius of the Kagamiike Pond, which includes the higher areas of the Kusatsu Ski Resort. The town center of Kusatsu is located six kilometers away and not considered in danger. The road from Kusatsu to the summit of Mount Shirane is currently closed due to winter closure.

Mount Shirane (白根山, Shiranesan, often called Kusatsu-Shirane to differentiate it from other mountains called Shirane) is a series of volcanic peaks just outside the town of Kusatsu Onsen. It is a popular outdoor recreation area which offers hiking in the spring and summer, autumn colors in the fall and skiing in the winter.

Hiking is possible from mid April to early November and offers varying terrain and good views, along with a selection of trails starting at the town center or the Shirane Resthouse near the summit.

Yumiike Pond and the parking lot

The easiest and most popular walk is from the Shirane Resthouse to Yugama Crater Lake. It takes less than ten minutes along a paved trail, and you will often see women doing it in high heels. At the top you are rewarded by views of the sulfurous, baby blue Yugama Crater Lake as well as the surrounding mountain ranges.

There are also a number of longer trails and hiking circuits that lead to the various peaks, craters, lakes and a waterfall in the area. The ropeway and chair lifts of Kusatsu Kokusai Ski Resort, which in the winter months has one of Japan's longest ski runs (8 km), can be used to bypass parts of the trails.

Karagama Crater

Access

The road to Mount Shirane is closed during winter from mid November to mid April. Paid parking is provided adjacent to the Shirane Resthouse This is also where the bus stop is located.

From Kusatsu Onsen

From mid April to early November, there are hourly buses between the Kusatsu Bus Terminal in the town center of Kusatsu Onsen and the Shirane Resthouse (30 minutes, 1130 yen one way). Some - but not all - of these buses are operated by JR and are covered by the Japan Rail Pass.

From Manza Onsen

From late April to late October, there are infrequent buses between the Manza Onsen (Manza Prince Hotel) and Kusatsu Onsen that make a stop at the Shirane Resthouse along the way. The one way ride between Manza and the Shirane Resthouse takes 15 minutes and costs 430 yen. The buses are not covered by the Japan Rail Pass.

From Yudanaka, the snow monkeys and Shiga Kogen

From late April to early November, there are hourly buses between Yudanaka Station in Yamanouchi and the Shirane Resthouse (70 minutes, 1650 yen one way) that stop along the way in Shibu Onsen, the Snow Monkey Park bus stop and Shiga Kogen. The buses are not covered by the Japan Rail Pass.

How to get to and around Kusatsu Onsen

Hotels around Kusatsu Onsen

Page last updated: July 2, 2017