There are a few famous hot springs in the Kanto-Area and “Hakone” is tops the hot spring ranking but “Kusatsu” is another famous hot spring located in Gunma Prefecture, which is 2 hours and a half by train from Tokyo. WIth a long history as a famous hot spring, Kusatsu has been one of the “Must go places” in Japan and also loved by Japanese tourist. Other than the hot springs, the you will be able to enjoy the nature as it is located up in the mountains, 1,200m altitude. Every season has a different color so basically you have something to enjoy throughout the year. As there will be more and more foreign visitors from abroad, I will write this article about “What exactly Kusatsu is all about”.
Things That Makes “Kusatsu” so Special
• 2.5 hours by train from Tokyo. Not too far.
• The tourist spots are located in a close vicinity (good distance and size for a 2 day trip)
• The atmosphere of the place is very Japanese.
• The Hot Springs are of course great
• There are plenty of places to visit so you won’t get bored.
• Not too expensive.
It is said that “Kusatsu Hot Spring” was ranked #1 in the hot spring ranking in Edo Period（1603–1868) and it is surely one of the best hot springs in Japan. Yubatake (Hot Spring Field) is located at the center of the hot spring village. Although there many rumors about who exactly discovered this hot spring but there are many records that tells many notables have visited the place after 1400’s. Also do you know that the Hot Spring Flowers (The white stuff you see in the Yubatake) are picked every 2 months since the 1700’s? That simply tells the long history of the place.
Main transportations you can take are train (the fastest), bus and by car.
This website does a good job explaining the transportation.
JR Ueno Station = Special Rapid “Kusatsu” 2.5 hours = Nagano Kusatsu-Ko Station (take JR bus from there) = Kusatsu Hot Spring
Shinkansen (Bullet Train) & Rent a car (2.5 hours from Tokyo)
Tokyo Station = Nagano Shinkansen (1h 10min) = Karuizawa Station (R18, 145, 146, 292) = Kusatsu Hot Spring
By Car (3.5 hours or little more depending on the traffic)
Nerima IC= (Kanetsu-Do = Shibukawa Ikaho IC = R353, 145) = Naganohara (Ootsu) = (R292) = Kusatsu Hot Spring
Shinjuku Station West =【JR Highspeed Bus “Jyoushu Yumeguri Go”】= Kusatsu Hot Spring（3hrs）
Main Tourist Spots
Yubatake is the main spot of Kusatsu Hot Spring. You can see the temple (Kosenji Temple) in the back. You can oversee the village if you go up the stairs and view the great landscapes of beautiful mountains.
Nishinogawara Park. 10 minutes walk from Yubatake passing all the traditional Japanese areas and tourist shops on the way. View the upwelling hot spring water.
Very good atmosphere.
Japanese styled “Ryokan” is very different from western style hotels and the way how they treat the guest are very unique. You’ll get to taste some of the local wild vegetables for dinner. This picture is a shot of “Naraya”, one of the key “Ryokan” in the area.
If you take a taxi for about 10 minutes, you’ll see the “Kusatsu International Ski Resort” and there are many resort hotels in that part of the town. Enjoying the mountains in the summer is also fun.