Kusatsu: The Best Place to Enjoy Hot Spring Baths

Kusatsu Japan Guide

Kusatsu Japan Map

Many people are confused about the true location of a place called Kusatsu in Japan. However, what they don’t know is that there are two locations in Japan named Kusatsu. One of them is located in the Shiga prefecture while the other is in the Gunma prefecture in Japan.

Kusatsu Shiga Japan

The Kusatsu in Shiga Japan is a fairly new city which was only established in the mid-1950s. It is a small city located in the Shiga prefecture in the Kansai region of Japan. The total land area of Kusatsu-shi is about 67 square kilometers and the total population of the area is about 140,000 people. It is located in the southern region of Japan.

Kusatsu Gunma Japan

The Kusatsu in Gunma Prefecture is not a city but a town with a much smaller land area of about 50 square kilometers. The population is also much smaller at 6,000 people. The town of Kusatsu is located in the Agatsuma district of the Gunma prefecture in the Kanto region of Japan. It is located further up north compared to the Kusatsu of the Shiga prefecture which is located near the south island of Japan.

Kusatsu Japan Weather

What is interesting about both Kusatsu is the fact that they are both popular for their impressive onsen resorts and ryokans. Kusatsu in Gunma Japan is well-known throughout the world for their famous hot spring resorts. On the other hand, Kusatsu in Shiga is also known for the hot spring resorts located near Lake Biwa.

The general weather in Kusatsu Gunma (also known as Katsumachi) is temperate. This means that they experience hot summers and really cold winters. The general temperature during the summer averages at about 20 to 30 degree Celsius while the temperature during the winter time averages from zero to negative 4 degree Celsius. They experience heavy snowstorms at certain times with a rough average of 160 cm of snowfall during the winter months.

On the other hand, Kusatsu Shiga (also known as Katsushi) experiences a subtropical climate. Since it is located near the equator, their winter seasons are much milder. This means that they may experience low temperature but very little chances of snowfall.  However, there are still times in the year when they experience snowfall.

Getting Around Kusatsu Japan

Nearest Airport to Kusatsu Japan


The airport nearest Kusatsu-machi, in Gunma prefecture Japan would be Tokyo Haneda airport which is about 115 kilometers away from the city center. This particular airport has both international and domestic flights. For domestic flights going to and out of Kusatsu-machi, the nearest airport would be Matsumoto airport which is roughly 146 kilometers away.


The airport nearest Kusatsu-shi would be the Osaka International airport. Travel time from the terminal to the city center of Kusatsu-shi would take roughly 50 minutes. Another major airport near the city center of Kusatsu-shi would be Kansai International airport which his roughly 90 minutes away by bus or express train.

Transportation around Kusatsu City Japan

As of the moment, Kusatsumatchi is too small to have train lines going around the town. Because of this, there are no train lines that travel around Kusatsu-machi. However, there is a national highway known as the Japan National Route 292 that could take a traveler from one point of Gunma to another. The great thing is that there are porters, taxis, and cars that could be hired in the area. For those who want to enjoy the simplicity of the town, they can rent bicycles to ride around the town.

The Pride and Glory of Both Kusatsu Japan

Kusatsu Japan Hot Springs

A hot spring is a naturally occurring heated pool that emerges from deep underground. It usually occurs when geothermal energy is present underneath the earth’s surface. This heat then raises the temperature of existing groundwater which is stored underneath the crust. Once the water is heated, it will be rising from the Earth’s crust as a form of steam and which may then condense upon reaching the surface.

One thing that people must remember about this is the fact that naturally occurring hot springs may have temperatures which are unsafe for bathing. Bathing pools are usually made up of cooled water which is transported in a cooling pool before being transferred to the bath itself. It is usually highly discouraged to bath straight into a naturally occurring hot spring pool as temperatures of these are uncontrolled and unpredictable. On top of these, there are also microorganisms that thrive in the hot waters which are proven to be dangerous and infectious to humans.

Basically, hot spring baths which have been processed already have therapeutic uses. It is believed that bathing in hot pools has medical effects that can alleviate stress, fatigue, muscle strain, and many more ailments.

Kusatsu Japan Onsens and Ryokans: Things to Remember

There are a few etiquette rules that must be remembered when traveling to onsens for the first time. This is especially important for those who are unfamiliar with the culture of the Japanese. The first thing that a person going to an onsen must remember is the fact that cleanliness is the most important. There are lockers for shoe storage and shelves for slippers when entering an onsen. Since an onsen is a public bath, it is important to stay sanitary at all times. Before entering the pool, a shower is a must. Nobody wants to be immersed in a pool of dirty water. This is why all onsens have showers with soap and shampoo before the pool or bath area.

The second thing to remember is that most onsens allow their guests to bathe nude. This is true since baths are usually gender separated. This is why remembering the color code for changing rooms are important. It is best to stay neutral about seeing people naked but also avoid staring as it is considered rude.

The third thing a person needs to remember is the fact that not all Japanese people are comfortable seeing unusual body accessories. This may mean loud hair colors, large body tattoos, piercings, and the like. The Japanese people are quite conservative so when entering a public bath or onsen, it might be a good idea to have these body accessories fully covered. It is to avoid the fuss of explaining that it’s sanitary and safe.

The last thing a person must remember is that it is also important to take note of how much heat the body can take. A body must be immersed in the hot bath only a few minutes at a time as it may create some unwanted effects to the body. Once a person feels too flushed, difficulty in breathing and even some tightness in the chest – it is best to leave immediately and seek help or aid. Going to onsens are good for the health but overexposure to the heat may not be too good either.

Luxury and Affordable Hotels in Kusatsu Japan

There are a number of hotels and other forms of accommodation in Kusatsu. For those who find staying in Ryokans to be too expensive, there are affordable hotels, inns, dormitories and the like in the area. There are also capsule hotels for solo travelers. For those who really wish to enjoy vacationing on the mountainside, there are a number of luxury hotels in the area as well. However, in Kusatsu-machi, it might be much more difficult to find unbooked rooms as the place is much smaller.

Things to do in Kusatsu Japan

Kusatsu Gunma Japan

Kusatsu International Ski Resort

Also known as Kusatsu Kokusai, this place is a ski and snowboard resort located in the Gunma Prefecture of Japan. It is said that this is the place to enjoy the best condition of powdered snow made perfectly for all sorts and levels of skiing and snowboarding.

The Kusatsu International ski resort is fit for all kinds of skiers, from beginner to advanced. The 1,245-meter ski center has different slopes and areas for all types of athletes. On the other hand, a larger percentage of the resort fits better with skiing than with snowboarding. Inside the resort are ropeways, cable cars, and lifts. There are different kinds of lifts that range from a small size that can fit only one person to large size that can seat about four people. The ropeways and cable cars are best enjoyed by those who want to stay away from the slopes.

Kusatsu Onsen

This place is one of most popular hot spring resorts in all of Japan. Its popularity may be attributed to the fact that it is all natural where the outdoor baths are literally springs of hot water. It is said that the natural hot spring baths in Kusatsu will cure most kinds of sicknesses and will provide additional health benefits to people enjoying a soak. A lot of people enjoy the onsens after a long day of tiresome skiing and hiking.

Among the most popular Kusatsu places in Japan would be Yubatake. This is a hot water field which is the primary source of hot spring water. What is interesting about it is that it can produce 5000 liters of hot spring water every minute, making it more productive than any hot water field in Japan.

There is a system for which the water coming from the Yubatake is distributed. Since it is a piping 70 degrees Celsius, it goes through wooden chambers that will cool it down a bit before it is routed to public baths and ryokans.

All these attractions are created by the majestic Mount Kusatsu Shirane which is a 2,000-meter high active volcano located in Gunma Prefecture. This is where the hot temperature of the onsen water comes from. This is also where the slopes of the Kusatsu Kokusai came from.

Kusatsu Tsurutaro Kataoka Museum

This particular museum is located in Kusatsu-machi and is one of the best art museums in the region. There are exhibits from both local and foreign artists and there are features for both traditional and modern craft. The place is very simple and is a good day trip destination for vacationers in the area.

Sai-no-kawara Street

The Sainokawara Rotemburo is the largest outdoor pool not only in Sainokawara park but in all of  Kusatsu. These ryokans are made up of traditional Japanese baths which are made of wooden pools inside wooden buildings. The park itself has several hot spring sources situated between natural landscapes. Once the water bubble up to the surface it will travel downstream towards smaller pools, which are gender separated, open publicly for bathers. During this process of traveling downstream, the hot water from the hot spring becomes cool enough to swim and bathe in. Entry to these bathing pools cost 600 yen per person. The park is open between 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM.

Kusatsu Shiga Japan

Lake Biwa

This is the largest freshwater lake in Japan and is located in Shiga prefecture. It covers several towns in its circumference with Hikone, Nagahama, Otsu, and Sakamoto as a few of them. Most of these small towns are known as hot spring resort towns because of the number of onsens and ryokans in the area. The hot spring water comes from the surrounding Mt. Hiei. The hot springs in the region are believed to be delicate to the skin and are known to help relieve illnesses which include stiffness in muscles, bruises, gastritis, and fatigue.

Lake Biwa Museum

Along with the lake and the onsens in Shiga, one of the aspects that give the place much pride would be the museum that features events and exhibits surrounding the largest lake in Japan. There are aquariums that exhibit all marine life in the lake.

This museum shows the natural history of the lake, civilizations that thrived on this lake, and more. There are artworks that feature the beauty of Lake Biwa. There is also a museum restaurant that features the best that the lake could offer like the black bass and catfish, freshly caught from the lake.