Hot springs (onsen) are so prominent in Japan that there are even areas known for primarily being an onsen resort district. These places exist in nearly every prefecture of the country and offer seemingly countless hot spring bath options for tourists to choose from.
For the prefecture of Gunma, the Kusatsu Onsen stands as the most popular hot spring resort, which, interestingly, also serves as a wonderland for ski enthusiasts during the winter season.
Weather & Climate of Kusatsu Onsen
Given that Kusatsu Onsen is located about 1,200 meters above the sea level, tourists should expect to be welcomed by a relatively cooler climate compared to the busy cities of Japan. According to previous weather reports, the average temperature of Kusatsu Onsen ranges from 5 to 10 degrees Celsius.
Even during the hottest months of Japan, i.e. July and August, the recorded temperatures of Kusatsu Onsen rarely reach 25 degrees Celsius.
Most Popular Tourist Attractions of Kusatsu Onsen
Yubatake, which literally translates to mean “the field of hot water” in English, is one of the most iconic landmarks of Kusatsu Onsen. In fact, it serves as the hot spring resort district’s main source for all of the onsens it houses.
Capable of supplying a recorded output of about five thousand liters per minute, Yubatake stands among the most productive hot spring sources of Japan.
Numerous ryokans (traditional Japanese inns) and charming shops are scattered around the area. As such, the nearby streets are usually filled with tourists and locals clad in yukata robes and geta sandals.
Mount Shirane, also known as Kusatsu-Shirane or Shiranesan, refers to an area located just beyond the outskirts of Kusatsu Onsen which features a series of volcanic peaks.
als take a trip to Mount Shirane to hike during the spring, summer, and autumn seasons. Come winter, the place turns into a haven for ski and snow sports enthusiasts.
The hiking routes of Mount Shirane range from easy to highly difficult walking paths, but the chairlifts and ropeway of the Kusatsu Kokusai Ski Resort offers an easy solution for those who want to skip the trails.
Tourists are advised to at least do the easiest trail of the area which goes from the Shirane Resthouse to the Yugama Crater Lake. This route can be done in ten minutes or less and features a paved trail that makes the hike all the more comfortable. Once at the end of the trail, a baby blue-colored lake and breathtaking mountain ranges can be found.
Sainokawara Park, or Sainokawara Koen, is located several hundred meters away from the central town of Kusatsu Onsen. The area houses several hot springs and walking trails for visitors to enjoy and explore.
One of the most popular points of interest of the park is the Sainokawara Rotemburo, which is composed of two gender-separated outdoor onsen baths that can comfortably accommodate up to a hundred people each.
The Onsens of Kusatsu Onsen Tourism Association (with Operational Hours and Prices)
Given the large amount of flowing hot spring water in Kusatsu, tourists have a lot of options to choose from when it comes to picking an onsen to visit. Some of the best ones within the area include:
Otaki-no-yu is one of the most popular bathhouses in Kusatsu, so much so that people already start lining up at the entrance an hour before the place actually opens.
Different facilities are offered at the massive onsen including an outdoor hot spring bath that comes complete with a waterfall, a series of baths that feature varied temperatures, and a sauna area. There is also a shared lounge, restaurant, and café available within the property.
Hours: 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM, daily
Price: 900 yen per person (For Adults); 400 yen per person (For Children); Additional charge for towel rentals
Sai-no-Kawara Outdoor Bath
The Sai-no-Kawara Outdoor Bath serves as the biggest onsen of its kind in the area of Kusatsu. It is also known for featuring a pleasantly rustic ambiance, which complements its relaxing natural hot spring water quite well.
Over a hundred people can comfortably enjoy the massive bath at the same time. A proper division has been built by the bathhouse to help women feel at ease while soaking in the outdoor hot spring. Since the bath measures an estimated total of 435 sq. m., the temperature of the water naturally varies from one point to the other.
Hours: 9:00 AM – 8:00 PM, daily
Price: 600 yen per person (For Adults); 300 yen per person (For Children)
Therme Therme is more of a spa than it is a traditional Japanese hot spring bathhouse. It can be found in the highlands of Kusatsu and houses different baths, along with a relatively large indoor pool. The place also offers visitors with various beauty treatments and massage services.
Hours: 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM, daily; Irregular schedule during the months of April and December
Price: 1,340 yen per person (For Adults, During Weekdays); 1,770 yen per person (For Adults, During Weekends and Holidays); 970 yen per person (For Children, During Weekdays); 1,290 yen per person (For Children, During Weekends and Holidays); 750 yen per person (For Toddlers, During Weekdays); 1,080 yen per person (For Toddlers, During Weekends and Holidays)
Kusatsu Onsen Center
The Kusatsu Onsen Center offers a rustic experience for its guests but also features modern facilities to keep things comfortable. Visitors can enjoy the fresh air of Kusatsu while bathing in one of its six baths and enjoy a nice view of a white birch grove located right on the outskirts of the onsen.
There is also a pub and relaxation room within the property, to make the whole experience all the more pleasant and memorable.
Hours: 10:30 AM – 7:00 PM, daily; Irregular schedule during the months of April and December
Price: 800 yen per person (For Adults); 400 yen per person (For Children)
Goza-no-yu allows its guests to enjoy two different kinds of hot spring water in one bath. The Yubatake and Bandai hot springs serve as the main sources of the bathhouse. This method of using two sources was quite popular during the Edo Period and Meiji Period, which gives the Goza-no-yu experience an interesting touch of Japanese history and culture.
Hours: 7:00 AM – 9:00 PM, daily
Price: 600 yen per person (For Adults); 300 yen per person (For Children); Additional charge for tea and snacks
Yu-kemuri Tei is a hot spring steam footbath located right in front of the Yubatake Hot Spring. Tourists and locals are free to use the footbath as much as they want, but a few minutes is typically enough for an individual to feel the therapeutic effects of the slightly acidic hot spring water.
The foot bath features a charming, cottage-style arrangement made out of cypress wood, meant to serve as a replica of the former Matsu-no-yu bathhouse of the Edo Period.
Access to Kusatsu Onsen
The Kusatsu Onsen is usually accessed from other parts of Japan by initially taking a train ride to the Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi Station then getting on a JR Bus to Kusatsu Onsen.
Tourists can choose from numerous ways on how to get to the Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi Station from Tokyo, but the highly recommended route is through the limited express trains of the Ueno Station.
Hotels, Ryokans, and Other Accommodation Options in Kusatsu Onsen, Gunma, Japan
Kiyoshigekan is less than twenty minutes away from the Sainokawara Park and Yubatake Hot Springs by foot. It is conveniently located right in the heart of Kusatsu Onsen and offers its guests with free parking spaces, free WiFi connection, and access to its open-air hot spring baths.
As with other ryokans, the rooms of Kiyoshigekan feature Japanese-style arrangements that come complete with paper screen doors, tatami flooring, and futon bedding. For a few more hundred yen, guests may also request to have the hot spring baths reserved for private use or have their luggage stored before or after their stay.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Address: 280-4 Kusatsu, Kusatsu, Gunma Prefecture, Japan 377-1711
Hotel Ichii houses its own indoor and outdoor hot spring baths which guests may freely enjoy all throughout their time at the hotel. There are Western-style and Japanese-style rooms available for rent, all of which are equipped with TVs, proper air-conditioning systems, private bathrooms, and safety deposit boxes.
As a means to make the experience of their guests more pleasant, Hotel Ichii also offers free parking, free shuttle services, and rentable luggage/ski storage spaces.
Rating: 8.3 out of 10
Address: 411 Kusatsu, Kusatsu, Gunma Prefecture, Japan 377-1711
Hotel Sakurai is a short walk away from the bus terminal of Kusatsu Onsen and a 20-minute drive away from the JR Naganohara Kusatsuguchi Station. The ryokan features a bar, snack bar, garden, shared lounge, games room, and buffet-style restaurant, among other facilities.
Guests are provided with their very own private bathroom, refrigerator, and basic household items in their rooms. To top everything off, each room at Hotel Sakurai offers a breathtaking view of the mountains.
Rating: 8.1 out of 10
Address: 465-4 Kusatsu, Kusatsu, Gunma Prefecture, Japan 377-1711
Hotel Takamatsu likes to keep things simple with its Japanese-style rooms and hot spring baths. The relaxing ambiance of the hotel makes for a great escape from the busy cities of Japan. Each room is equipped with all the basic necessities, plus free use of yukatas, a casual type of Japanese robe.
There are indoor and outdoor hot springs for guests to enjoy with other visitors, while private baths may be reserved in advance for additional fees. Hotel Takamatsu also features several karaoke rooms, a relaxation lounge, and a traditional dining area.
Rating: 7.2 out of 19
Address: 312 Kusatsu, Kusatsu, Gunma Prefecture, Japan 377-1711
Kusatsu Onsen Boun
Kusatsu Onsen Boun boasts of its exceptional customer service and outstanding facilities which includes six hot spring baths, Japanese-style and Western-style rooms, a library, and a garden.
All of the rooms offered come complete with LCD TVs, private bathrooms, and refrigerators. The Japanese-style rooms, of course, are equipped with tatami flooring, while the Western-style rooms feature adequate carpeting and raised beds.
The ryokan is an hour away from the Karuizawa Station by car but is conveniently located near the Kusatsu Kokusai Ski Area, providing guests with a door-to-ski access.
Rating: 9.2 out of 10
Address: 433-1 Kusatsumachi, Kusatsu, Gunma Prefecture, Japan 377-1711
Ryokan Tamura is about two hundred meters away from Yubatake. Some of the most popular facilities of the ryokan include free private parking, free WiFi connection, and, of course, a relaxing hot spring bath.
The rooms of the ryokan have shared bathrooms and flat-screen TVs. There are also a few bigger rooms that come with their own seating areas, perfect for traveling families.
Rating: 8.2 out of 10
Address: 305 Kusatsu, Kusatsu, Gunma Prefecture, Japan 377-1711
Kane Midori can be reached from the Yubatake Hot Spring in less than five minutes by walk. Aside from hot spring baths and Japanese-style rooms, the ryokan also offers its guests with other facilities such as massage services, luggage storage spaces, and authentic Japanese dishes.
Conveniently enough, Kane Midori is located near the Nikko-ji Temple, Kusatsu International Ski Area, and the Sanroku Ropeway Station.
Rating: 8.9 out of 10
Address: 162 Kusatsu, Kusatsu, Gunma Prefecture, Japan 377-1711
Kusatsu Now Resort Hotel
Kusatsu Now Resort Hotel features natural indoor and outdoor onsen baths, tennis courts, and four dining areas, among other facilities. The hotel is known for providing its guests with exceptional service and a memorable experience from beginning to end.
Each of the hotel’s air-conditioned rooms is fitted with a feather duvet, electric kettle, and LCD TV, among other standard equipment. From the Kusatsu Onsen Bus Terminal, tourists can easily access the Kusatsu Now Resort Hotel within five minutes by car.
The hotel also houses its very own restaurant that features a buffet-style arrangement and serves traditional Japanese dishes.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Address: 750 Kusatsu Shirone, Kusatsu, Gunma Prefecture, Japan 377-1711
Hanaingen is a short walk away from Yubatake Onsen. Some of the most popular facilities of the adult-only ryokan include free private parking, free WiFi connection, and four different kinds of private hot spring baths.
It should be noted that the whole property is non-smoking. All the rooms feature adequate air-conditioning and television sets. Furthermore, guests are provided with a healthy breakfast every morning throughout their stay.
Rating: 9.0 out of 10
Address: 92 Kusatsu, Gunma Prefecture, Japan 377-1711
Hotel New Koyo
Hotel New Koyo offers its guests with several hot spring baths, Japanese-style rooms that come complete with mountain views, and a karaoke room. Other services provided by the hotel include free WiFi connection, free parking, and free luggage storage spaces available 24/7.
Each guest may also avail of buffet dinners or breakfasts at the main dining area, which serves a mix of Chinese, Japanese, and Western dishes.
Rating: 7.3 out of 10
Address: 464-34 Kusatsu, Kusatsu, Gunma Prefecture, Japan 377-1711
Kusatsu Onsen Hotel Village
Kusatsu Onsen Hotel Village houses four swimming pools, indoor and outdoor hot spring baths, several saunas, a bowling area, and many other facilities guaranteed to keep guests entertained all throughout their time at the massive hotel. Guests can also choose to rent out bikes to explore the town or spend some time working up an appetite at the fitness center or tennis court.
There is no need to look for a nearby restaurant, as the hotel’s very own dining hall features a buffet-style arrangement which consists of Western and Japanese cuisines, all made using local ingredients.
If those are not enough to keep one busy, the Kusatsu Kokusai Ski Resort and Manza Onsen Ski Resort are less than thirty minutes away from the property.
Rating: 7.8 out of 10
Address: 618 Kusatsu, Kusatsu, Gunma Prefecture, Japan 377-1711