If you are in the need of a cure for those annoying headaches you get everyday or that painful knee then a visit to Kusatsu Onsen would be well in its place. Kusatsu is a magical place with lots of high quality natural hot spring sources. Kusatsu is located in the mountains of Gunma prefecture at an altitude of about 1200 meters above sea level. This means that the town is not only a wonderful place to visit the many onsen, but also lends itself as a great place for hiking or skiing during the winter. The town itself has the famous hot water field Yubatake, plenty of bath houses and a beautiful park.
Of course, when going to Kusatsu visiting an onsen is inevitable! Upon arrival in the town you will soon find one of the most photographed sites of Kusatsu, Yubatake.
The Yubatake (湯畑 "hot water field") is one of the sources of hot spring water in the town and is a very pretty and romantic site to see in the evening. Closeby you can find many restaurants and many bathhouses for you to try out.
Address: 〒377-1711 Gunma-ken, Agatsuma-gun, Kusatsu-machi, Kusatsu. View Map
Yubatake, image by Sylvie van der Linden
Among the many bath houses and ryokan the most famous ones are the Otaki no Yu bath house with its special Awayesu baths with several wooden pools with different temperatures each.
Fees are 900 yen per adult and 400 yen per child.
Address: Japan, 〒377-1711 Gunma Prefecture, Agatsuma District, 草津町大字草津５９６−１３. View Map
Another recommendation would be Goza no Yu, this two-story-bathhouse gets its water from the town's main hot water source Yubatake and the Bandai source. As it was being rebuilt close to Yubatake one can also enjoy a spectacular view of it a night.
Fees are 600 yen per adult and 300 yen per child
421 Kusatsu, Agatsuma District, Gunma Prefecture 377-1711, Japan. View Map
A smaller bath house that offers a more unique experience is Jikan-Yu where customers can take a short, very hot bath for a short 3 minutes, meant to open the pores and cleanse one's body thoroughly.
Fee is 560 yen for one time.
Sai no Kawara Park
Close to the village lies Sai no Kawara Park, a perfect opportunity to enjoy a stroll through nature and experience some quiet and peace. Here you will actually find some more bath places and outside pools. For example, the Sai no kawara Rotenburo, here you can relax in a pool outside in the fresh mountain air while being surrounded by beautiful greenery. Throughout in the park, you might find some smaller foot baths where you can relax your feet in for free during your walk.
Address: Japan, 〒377-1700 Gunma Prefecture, Agatsuma District, 草津町Kusatsu, 521−3. View map
Image by Sylvie van der Linden
If you want to learn a bit more about Kusatsu and onsen or are waiting for your bus to arrive to bring you back home, you might want to pay a visit to the Onsen Museum. This museum is conveniently located on the 3rd floor of of the bus terminal. Tickets are 200 yen per adult and 100 yen per child, open from 9:00 to 16:00.
How to get there from Tokyo?
From Tokyo Kusatsu can be easily be reached by public transportation from Shinjuku Station. At Shinjuku Station you take the Saikyo Line going to Omiya (about 40 minutes) , at Omiya Station you transfer onto the Hokuriku Shinkansen for Asama Nagano. After about 30 minutes you will arrive at Takasaki Station and transfer there onto the Agatsuma line to Omae. After about 1 hour and 20 minutes you arrive at Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi Station and take the bus to Kusatsu Onsen (20 minutes). This route may not be the shortest from Tokyo, but is less expensive than going by Shinkansen all the way, costing you about 6,500 yen.
For the easier, more expensive route, you can leave from Tokyo Station with the Tokaido Shinkansen to Shin-Osaka. After about 2 hours you transfer at Maibara Station onto the Tokaido Sanyo Line to Banshuu-Akou Station and get off the train at Kusatsu (45 minutes). This route will cost you about 12,500 yen.