Close to Tokyo, Kusatsu Onsen is one of the famous onsen (hot spring) towns in Gunma Prefecture. Easily accessible by train or car, this is a great weekend trip from Tokyo to enjoy nature and hot springs.
All the hot spring facilities use water from natural springs, which are capable of producing thousands of liters of hot water daily. With high bactericidal properties, soaking in these hot springs is said to heal your body. Let’s check some of the key spots to visit at Kusatsu Onsen. We have added Google Map links for ease.
Yubatake (湯畑), roughly translated as “hot water field,” is located in the center of town. This field is used to cool down hot spring water before distributing it to various hotels, inns and facilities in the area.
Yubatake (湯畑): Google Map
This is the view from the top of Yubatake and as you can see, there are several ryokan (traditional Japanese-style inn) and onsen hotels. On either side of the Yubatake are eateries and souvenir shops.
No matter where you look, each view of Kusatsu Onsen has hot spring steam.
Even the water to wash hands is from the hot springs.
The hot water here can be used for washing hands or as a disinfectant, but is not suitable for drinking.
Like many onsen towns, this one also has a free public foot bath.
The onsen water here is clear, of very good quality, and has minerals like sulfur, aluminum sulfate, and chloride.
Walking around the Yubatake gives an idea of how large the field is as well as the amount of water flowing through.
Apart from soaking in hot springs, you can also enjoy local delicacies and souvenir shopping.
These grilled fish paste sticks contain melted cheese and although simple are utterly delicious.
Don’t forget to try the onsen eggs too.
And one of the famous local snacks that you must try is Agemanju (fried bun stuffed with azuki bean paste).
Other than foot baths, there are many places that offer free hot baths in the area. All you have to do is carry your own towels.
To fully enjoy this onsen town, we recommend that you wear a yukata so you can soak your feet easily in the foot baths.
There are signposts leading to Yubatake (湯畑), so you don’t have to worry about getting lost.
The second most popular thing to do in Kusatsu is watch Yumomi (湯もみ), a century old method to cool down the extremely hot water from the springs. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, tourists were allowed to participate but this has been temporarily suspended.
When you stop by Osayu, don’t forget to buy a banana cheese tart featuring a monkey!
As you wander around, you are bound to be intoxicated by the salty, umami aroma of grilled dango.
If you wish to buy souvenirs, Nakayoshido Honpo (ナカヨシ堂本舗) is a cute little store packed with traditional and modern goods.
How cute are these bottles of colorful popcorn?
There are also traditional souvenirs such as Himokawa Udon, which is a specialty of Gunma prefecture.
Konnyaku is another specialty of Gunma and you will find several unique products made from konnyaku.
The interior of the store features a mural of Mt. Fuji. You can also buy cute towels here for use at hot spring facilities.
There are also stores that sell freshly baked rice crackers with Kusatsu Spa featured on the seaweed.
For lunch, visit a local restaurant to try the wide udon noodles called Himokawa Udon. These will be undoubtedly delicious.
For Rilakkuma fans, there is a gift shop featuring character goods in collaboration with the hot spring.
Even though the Yubatake looks spectacular during the day, it looks completely different at night. Lit up for the evening, the atmosphere of the Yubatake becomes mystical.
If you plan a stay at a ryokan, wear a yukata (usually provided by the ryokan) and go for a walk in the evening for a unique experience of the Yubatake.
There are also many stray cats in this onsen town, and as you may be aware, Japanese love cats so you’ll see many people taking photos of cats and petting them.
Coca Cola has released many designs featuring regional specialties in Japan and there is one available in Gunma too. The Tokugawa family is connected to Gunma prefecture and this is a bottle featuring the Tokugawa family crest.
If you are looking for a unique spot to visit from Tokyo, make sure to consider Kusatsu Onsen.
Let us know if there is something that needs to be fixed: Feedback Form