Sample Itineraries – We hava created some great itineraries for enjoying Kusatsu and Minakami in Gunma.

Overnight trip Tour ATraveling in Kusatsu, home to the famous Kusatsu hot springs

Kusatsu is one of the premiere locations in Japan for hot springs, and given its proximity to Tokyo, it is also a popular destination for sightseers. Kusatsu is located at an altitude of 1,200 meters, and the abundance and high quality of the hot spring water are points of pride. The area is home to a variety of lodging facilities and shops, all centered around the famous Yubatake, or "hot water field."

On this trip, stay at one of the long-established ryokans (inns) and enjoy a rejuvenating time in the relaxed pace of Kusatsu.

Trip Details

Day 1, Option A: Enjoy the Kusatsu area

 

Ueno Station

Trunk lines

approximately 2 hour, 30 minutes on the limited express Kusatsu.

Traveling to Kusatsu Hot Springs aboard the limited express kusatsu

The Limited Express Kusatsu runs between Ueno and Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi. It runs every day, including Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. This is an excellent choice for passengers who do not wish to take the resort trains.

The Limited Express Kusatsu
The Limited Express Kusatsu

 

Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi Station

Bus

JR Bus
(approx. 30 minutes)

Get off the bus

 

Kusatsu
Hot Springs
bus terminal

Bus or On foot

Lodging shuttle buses (2 to 5 minutes) or On foot (approx. 5 minutes)

Get off the bus

 

Kusatsu Hot
Springs: Check in
at your lodging

On foot

On foot
(approx. 15 minutes)

Kusatsu Hot Springs is one of the three famous hot springs in Japan. Boasting a higher volume than any other location in Japan, Kusatsu produces 230,000 drums of hot spring water a day. This tremendous bounty of water is why the ryokans and other hot spring facilities of Kusatsu are able to divide the source water among themselves.

Kusatsu has many lodging facilities where you can enjoy the essence of the hot water to your heart's content.

Yubatake, the "hot spring field" in Kusatsu
Yubatake, the "hot spring field" in Kusatsu

Hot springsHistory&Traditions

Yubatake – a symbol of Kusatsu with rising steam

Located in the center of town, Yubatake, or "hot spring field," is the source of the hot spring water in Kusatsu and serves as its symbol. Every minute, 4,000 liters of hot water pours out, creating a great sound as it falls. The view of the hot water steam blanketing the surroundings is a well-known sight for Kusatsu and tourists throng the area to enjoy the spectacle.

The magnificence of Yubatake
The magnificence of Yubatake

Hot springsHistory&Traditions

Yumomi – a traditional Kusatsu Hot Springs custom from days of yore

Since the Edo Period, Kusatsu has had a unique bathing tradition known as jikanyu.
The hot spring water at Kusatsu Hot Springs ranges from 51 degrees all the way to 94 degrees at its hottest and moreover is acidic, which strongly stimulates the skin. Jikanyu is an hot springs therapy developed to makes the most of these high temperatures. But because the human body cannot tolerate such high temperatures, yumomi was invented as a method of using wooden boards to "massage" the water and lower the temperatures without diluting with cold water.

When

  • It is planned that it will be open for business all year round except for maintenance and special events.

Times

  • Six times per day: 9:30, 10:00, 10:30, 15:30, 16:00 and 16:30

Charge

  • Adults: 600 yen
  • Elementary school students: 300 yen

Visitors try their hand at yumomi
Visitors try their hand at yumomi

Netsunoyu from the outside
Netsunoyu from the outside

Hot springs

Casual hot spring foot baths

Around Yubatake, there are locations provided with pure hot spring water. Because of the high temperature and acidity, Kusatsu hot spring water is said to have favorable effects on the body just by soaking your hands or feet in it for a few minutes. Because there is no need to change, you can just take off your socks, plunk your lower legs in the water and rejuvenate your tired feet. These casual foot baths are provided at no charge.

A visitor enjoys the healing effects of a foot bath.
A visitor enjoys the healing effects of a foot bath.

Hot springs

Sai-no-Kawara Outdoor Hot Spring

About a 15-minute walk from Yubatake is a 500-square-meter, open-air bath named Sai-no-Kawara, filled with hot spring water. While enjoying the pristine air and surrounding greenery of Sai-no-Kawara Park, relax in the Sai-no-Kawara hot spring, Kusatsu's largest. Made of stone, this outdoor hot spring is 500 square meters, and surrounded on all sides by nature. Serenity in the bosom of nature!

Hours of Operation

  • 7:00 to 20:00 – entrance closes at 19:30
    Winter hours: 9:00 to 20:00 (last entrance at 19:30)

Entrance Fees

  • Adults: 600 yen
  • From three years old through elementary school: 300 yen

The spacious Sai-no-Kawara outdoor hot spring bath
The spacious Sai-no-Kawara outdoor hot spring bath

Kusatsu Hot Springs:
Stay at your lodging

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Day 1: Option B: Enjoy Karuizawa

 

Tokyo Station

Shinkansen

approximately 1 hour on the Asama on the Hokuriku Shinkansen

 

Karuizawa Station

On foot

On foot
(approx. 15 minutes)

DiningHistory&TraditionsShopping

Take a stroll through Old Karuizawa with its Victorian feel

Passing from JR Karuizawa Station and Karuizawa Hondori Street, you will find, starting at the Kyu-Karuizawa traffic circle, the 800-meter-long Kyu-Karuizawa Ginza, the main street of Kyu or Old Karuizawa. This shopping district developed in the Meiji Period, and due to the influence of Europeans and Americans living there at the time, a great many shops that exude Western culture were built, including bakeries, jam shops and delicatessens. Kyu-Karuizawa is popular with sightseers.

You will also find such Western-style landmarks as a Victorian church and hotel. Take a stroll and see the town!

Kyu-Karuizawa Hotel
Kyu-Karuizawa Hotel

Shopping

Karuizawa Outlet – lots of stores

Commonly known as the Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza, the Karuizawa Outlet is a mammoth mall, one of the largest in Japan. Whereas outlet malls typically have about 100 stores, Karuizawa Outlet has more than 190, so you're sure to find a store you like. The mall has also become one of the best-known locations in Karuizawa.

Looking over a pond to the mammoth Karuizawa Outlet Mall
Looking over a pond to the mammoth Karuizawa Outlet Mall

 

Karuizawa Station

Bus

Local bus (approx. 1 hour, 20 minutes)

Get off the bus

 

Kusatsu
Hot Springs

Bus or On foot

Use the lodging shuttle bus (2 to 5 minutes) or walk (about 5 minutes)

Get off the bus

Kusatsu Hot
Springs: Lodging

Kusatsu Hot Springs is one of the three famous hot springs in Japan. Boasting a higher volume than any other location in Japan, Kusatsu produces 230,000 drums of hot spring water a day. This tremendous bounty of water is why the ryokans and other hot spring facilities of Kusatsu are able to divide the source water among themselves.

Kusatsu has many lodging facilities where you can enjoy the essence of the hot water to your heart's content.

Yubatake, the "hot spring field" in Kusatsu
Yubatake, the "hot spring field" in Kusatsu

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Day 2

On Day 2, you depart from the Kusatsu Hot Springs bus terminal and use the regularly running sightseeing buses (JR Bus Kanto) to see the many signs of Kusatsu. (Operation in 2015 is primarily on weekends and holidays from May 3 to October 31.) For information about the sightseeing buses, see the Travel Service Center at Narita or Haneda Airport or your nearest JR Ticket Office (Midori-no-madoguchi).

 

Kusatsu
Hot Springs
bus terminal

Bus

JR Bus Kanto
(approx. 30 minutes)

Get off the bus

 

Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi
Station

Trunk lines

approximately 15 minutes on the Agatsuma Line

 

Manza-Kazawaguchi
Station

Bus

Local bus
(approx. 5 minutes)

Get off the bus

 

Kanbara
Kannon-do
Temple

Bus

JR Bus
(approx. 20 minutes)

Get off the bus

 

Onioshidashi
Park

Bus

JR Bus
(approx. 15 minutes)

Nature

Onioshidashi Park – a work of lava art

Onioshidashi Park is the best-known sightseeing spot in Kita-Karuizawa. When Mount Asama erupted in 1783, lava poured out and solidified into a wide, dark black formation stretching some 5.5 kilometers to the northern foot of the mountain. Up to 2 kilometers wide, it is an incredible formation. You can walk among the lava rocks at Onioshidashi. The enormous size of some of these rocks indeed has a powerful effect when viewed up close. Mount Asama Kannon-do Temple is situated on a high rise in the middle of the lava formation, a memorial to the victims of the great eruption. The temple also provides a wonderful vista of not only Onioshidashi and Mount Asama, but the Asama Plateau and Mount Kusatsu-Shirane.

The incredible lava formation
The incredible lava formation

Get off the bus

 

Shiraito
Falls

Bus

JR Bus
(approx. 20 minutes)

Nature

Shiraito Falls – percolating from rock

When the meltwaters of Mount Fuji come gushing out from the rocks, they pour out and down in a narrow stream that looks like white silk, hence the appellation shiraito. At 3 meters in height and a breadth of some 70 meters, the water emerges from underground—unlike the water flowing in a river—and pours out in multiple layers that appear like thin threads.

With the limpid water, Shiraito Falls is both picturesque and charming in a way that is similar to a miniature Japanese garden.

The water of Shiraito Falls flows like strands of white silk.
The water of Shiraito Falls flows like strands of white silk.

Get off the bus

 

Kita-Karuizawa
(the old Karuizawa
railway station)

Bus

JR Bus
(approx. 25 minutes)

Get off the bus

 

Asama Sakagura
Sightseeing Center
(a sake brewery)

Bus

JR Bus
(approx. 5 minutes)

Get off the bus

 

Nagano-Kusatsuguchi Station

Trunk lines

approximately 2 hour, 30 minutes on the limited express Kusatsu.

More tourism information on Gunma

Gunma Tourism International Association

 

Ueno Station

As of July 2015.
Prices, business hours, transportation and other details are subject to change.

Shinkansen

Shinkansen

Trunk lines

Trunk lines

On foot

On foot

Bus

Bus

Note:

  • Buses do not run often, so if you are planning to use them, take care not to miss the bus. Inquire at the JR Ticket Office (Midori-no-madoguchi) at your nearest station for detailed bus schedules.

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Itinerary Map

Itinerary Map

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Timetables and seat reservations

Shinkansen and Limited Express Timetables (Opens in a new window.)

JR-EAST Train Reservation
 (Opens in a new window.)