Ultimate Guide to Kusatsu Onsen: Japan's Best Hot Spring Experience

Ultimate Guide to Kusatsu Onsen: Japan's Best Hot Spring Experience

Winter is coming, and there's no better way to experience it than by visiting one of Japan's most famous hot spring resorts: Kusatsu Onsen. Nestled in the snow-covered mountains near Tokyo, Kusatsu offers not only breathtaking landscapes but also a rich cultural experience. In this article, we will guide you through everything you need to know about visiting Kusatsu Onsen, one of the best onsen in Japan.

Snow-covered stone steps leading up through a series of red torii gates adorned with Japanese inscriptions, surrounded by tall trees in a winter landscape.

Frequently Asked Questions about Onsen in Japan

What is an onsen in Japan? Let me tell you about one of my favorite Japanese experiences: the onsen. An onsen is a natural hot spring bath, and Japan has thousands of them! They’re cherished not just for their relaxing warmth but also for their amazing therapeutic properties. Onsen are deeply embedded in Japanese culture, and taking a dip in one is like embracing a piece of Japan’s soul.

Do you wear clothes in Japanese onsen? Here’s something that might surprise you: no, you don’t wear clothes in a traditional Japanese onsen. Forget your bathing suit because it’s all about bathing naked. It might feel a bit strange at first, but it’s part of the authentic experience. Just remember, cleanliness is key! Make sure to thoroughly wash and rinse your body before stepping into the soothing waters.

Can foreigners go to onsen in Japan? Absolutely! As a foreigner, I’ve always felt welcome at onsen across Japan. Most places are happy to have international visitors, but it’s super important to follow the local etiquette. This means washing up before you enter the bath, keeping your towel out of the water, and being respectful of other bathers. It’s all about ensuring everyone has a pleasant and relaxing time.

Are onsen mixed gender? This is an interesting one. While you might find some mixed-gender onsen, especially in rural areas or private facilities, most public onsen have separate baths for men and women. If you’re curious about trying a mixed-gender bath, a little research ahead of time can help you find the perfect spot. But rest assured, whether separate or mixed, the onsen experience is something you won’t forget.

Person's feet submerged in a milky blue hot spring pool, with a wooden deck and black wooden fence in the background, and green plants along the edge of the pool.


Winter in Northern Japan

Winter is settling in the north of Japan, with snow falling in grey flakes and an icy wind blowing from the great north. The mountainsides are covered with snow, and steam clouds evaporate from the volcanic lands and thermal springs. This land of contrasts and wild beauty is not just a picturesque landscape; it is part of Japan's essence.

Why Kusatsu?

Located in the north-central part of Japan, Kusatsu is a 1000-year-old spa town renowned for its therapeutic hot springs. Kusatsu Onsen is celebrated for its high-quality hot spring water, believed to cure every illness. For lovers of hot springs, relaxation, and the slow life, Kusatsu is an ideal destination. It's often considered one of the best onsen in Japan.

Panoramic view of a Japanese village with fields in the foreground and houses in the middle ground, leading to a distant snow-capped mountain under a blue sky with scattered clouds.

How to Get to Kusatsu from Tokyo

The easiest way to reach Kusatsu is by bus, as there is no train station in Kusatsu, only a bus station. You can take a bus from almost any major station in Tokyo (Tokyo, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, Nerima, etc.) for around 8000¥ for a round-trip ticket. The journey, though lengthy, is worth it. The bus will travel along the highway, then climb to 1200 meters altitude through a winding road in the Gunma mountains, finally stopping at the Kusatsu bus terminal. From there, it's a 10-minute walk to the city center.

Exploring Kusatsu: A Charming Village

Kusatsu has preserved its old wooden houses and small streets lined with traditional stores selling cakes, grilled food, and other delicacies. Modern boutiques offering high-quality goods, elegant cafes, and bustling restaurants serving typical Japanese meals are also found throughout the village.

Kusatsu village in winter with snow-covered buildings surrounding a steaming hot spring pool, the water a milky blue, creating a misty atmosphere under an overcast sky.

Relaxation in Kusatsu's Hot Springs

After exploring Kusatsu in the chilly winter, it's time to relax in one of the many bathhouses scattered throughout the city. The main source of hot sulfur water is located in the village center. An ancient wooden container system cools down the water, creating a retro atmosphere. The creamy white, hot water provides a feeling of relaxation, emptiness, and voluptuousness once you enter the bath.

Steaming indoor round onsen bath with wooden pillars and handrails, dimly lit, creating a serene and misty atmosphere.

Must-See Sights and Activities in Kusatsu

Yubatake: The main hot spring source in the center of the town, a must-see for any onsen enthusiast.

Sainokawara Park: A scenic park with outdoor baths, perfect for enjoying the natural beauty of Kusatsu.

Netsunoyu: A facility where you can experience the traditional Yumomi performance, where water is cooled down with large wooden paddles.

Kusatsu International Ski Resort: For those who want to combine hot spring relaxation with winter sports.

Accommodation: Onsen Hotels and Ryokans For an immersive experience, stay at an onsen hotel or an onsen ryokan in Kusatsu. These traditional Japanese inns offer a unique blend of comfort, culture, and luxury. Many provide private onsen options, allowing you to enjoy the hot springs in a more intimate setting.

Japanese Bathroom Accessories for Onsen Experience

Enhance your at-home onsen experience with these exquisite Japanese bathroom accessories. These items will elevate your bath time, bringing a touch of Japanese tradition and luxury to your home.

1.Japanese Bath Stool: Premium Hinoki Bath Accessories

Discover our meticulously crafted wooden shower stool, a pinnacle of Japanese bath accessories. Experience the natural benefits of Hinoki cypress wood: antibacterial properties, calming scent, and sustainability. Elevate your bathroom experience with this exquisite Japanese bath chair. View Product

A handcrafted Japanese cypress (Hinoki) bath chair, 11.8 inches tall, sits on a mosaic-tiled floor. Its eco-friendly, minimalist design is evident in the visible grain and natural finish, accompanied by subtle greenery in a serene bathroom setting.

2.Handmade Hiba Cypress Onsen Bath Bucket - Eco-Friendly

Explore our Handmade Hiba Cypress Onsen Bath Bucket, perfect for a luxurious Japanese-style bathroom. Made from eco-friendly, sustainably-sourced Hiba wood, it offers antibacterial and deodorizing properties. Elevate your bath experience with this durable, aromatic, and eco-conscious accessory. View Product

A φ22cm / 8.66" handy bath bucket made of Sawara Japanese cypress sits on a white tiled surface with green ferns around, showcasing the bucket's smooth grain and copper bands.


3. Hinoki Aroma Shower Soap: Luxurious & Relaxing Bath

Experience the calming essence of Japanese Hinoki with our handcrafted soap bar. Infused with pure Hinoki essential oil, it promotes relaxation, nourishes your skin, and leaves you feeling revitalized. View Product


A wooden soap dish made of hinoki cypress, containing a pale, solid block of soap, placed on a tiled surface with a green pine branch arranged around it for an added natural touch.


4.Wooden Foot Soaking Basin | Foot Bath Tub | Japan Spa Equipment

Experience spa-like relaxation with our foot soaking tub crafted from natural Sawara wood. Dive into the authenticity of a Japanese bath tub and the convenience of a foot bath sink. Prioritize eco-friendly body care and sustainability with every soak. View Product

side view of a woman soaking her feet in a wood soaking bath placed on a grey carpet in a room


Hinoki Wood Bath Bucket: Essence of Japanese Bathroom Accessories

Experience unparalleled Japanese craftsmanship with our Hinoki bath bucket. A pinnacle in wooden bathroom accessories, it promises durability, hygiene, and sustainability. Dive into a luxurious bathing ritual that celebrates tradition, nature, and modern luxury. Explore the world of hinoki bathroom accessories with us. View Product

A Japanese wooden bath bucket with handle on a pine branch inside a white bathroom floor

Conclusion If you're planning a trip to Tokyo, Kusatsu Onsen is a must-visit destination for a relaxing and culturally enriching experience. The combination of beautiful winter landscapes, historic hot springs, and charming village life makes it an unforgettable experience. It's one of the best Japanese hot spring experiences you can have.

Thank You for Reading! We hope this guide has inspired you to visit Kusatsu Onsen. Stay tuned for more articles on Japanese bathhouses and wellness.

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