Enjoy the hot springs, food and amusements around Ishidan
The Ishidan stone stairway is symbolic of Ikaho Onsen which has a history of more than 400 years. There are 365 steps to signify “a street that is alive with activity throughout the year”. Right by the entrance to the stairway on the right is Ishidan-no-Yu, a warehouse-like public bath with reasonable prices. Ikaho Onsen has been called Kogane-no-Yu (The Golden Waters), but the waters used to be clear and colorless. However, due to the iron content, they turned dark brown when in contact with the air. They are also known as Kodakara-no-Yu (Child Waters) since they tend to be mild, warm the body from inside and are popular with women. Gunma Prefecture is ranked No. 1 in the country for its production of konnyaku (yam cakes), and tama konnyaku (yam balls) steeped with the flavor of soy sauce is perfect. And then there is the irresistible onsen manju (bean paste-filled cakes at a hot spring) of Ikaho. The brown and lustrous manju became a household word around Japan when it was presented to the Imperial Family. The cakes whose skin was made brown after the color of Kogane-no-Yu are also called Yu-no-Hana (Blossom of the Waters) manju, and the area has become known as the birthplace for onsen manju. There have also long been a number of amusements of a Japanese hot spring town to be enjoyed at Ishidan. You can try target practice with a bow, ring toss and shuriken among other things so that adults can feel like kids again. There is also a free foot bath in the middle of the steps when you get tired from walking up Ishidan. The Tatsu-no-Yu (Dragon Waters) at Kishigon Ryokan can even be used by non-guests so it’s the ideal bath to pep up your feet. At the top of the stairs, there is Ikaho Shrine. Surrounded by trees, it stands quietly above all of the bustle of Ishidan below.