Have you ever heard Kusatsu Onsen (Hot Spring ) in Japan? There is one of the most famous Onsen spots which are categorized in No.1 hot spring resort in Japan. The other day, I suddenly decided to go on a 1 night & 2 days trip there because I unexpectedly had a spare time on weekend. I am fond of the onsen place because water quality is fairly good and access from Tokyo is very convenient. I always use a direct express bus whenever I go there, the fare is just 3,000 yen for one-way and it takes you about 4 hours from Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal. Moreover, Kusatsu Onsen is touristized to some extent, so you may not get bored even you visit there repeatedly.
How can we make hot spring cool without poring water!?
When you reach the bus terminal in Kusatsu Onsen, let’s walk aiming to “Yubatake”, a center of Kusatsu Onsen Area. “Yubatake” is an iconic spot and a facility which adjusts hot water temperature by pouring in wooden gutters outside. Dynamic scene that hot spring is felling like a waterfall and the strong smell of sulfur will welcome you there! Temperature of hot water in Kusatsu is really high, so we need to cool the water in order to dip into Onsen. However, if you pour cool water into hot water, the concentration of hot spring quality will decrease. To avoid it, we try to stir hot water in bathtubs by wide and long boards in order to make hot water’s temperature low but to keep the quality, which called “Yumomi”. You can also see a Yumomi performance at “Netsu-no-yu” near Yubatake and experience Yumomi during the show if you want. The ladies for the performance will teach you how to do it.
How to enjoy Kusatsu other than hot spring
There are many fascinating Japanese inns here and there in the city, but I stayed in business hotel this time. Of course, I recommend you to stay in Japanese style inns with nice dinner and breakfast in case it is your first time visiting to Onsen, but it is also possible to stay in economy budget hotels if you are on a trip alone. A wide variety of restaurants are open around Yubatake, so you never worry about foods during your stay. Moreover, strolling around Yubatake with illuminations is fun at night and you can also enjoy to see “Onsen Rakugo”, a kind of Japanese comic storytelling, for 45 minutes at 8:00 pm at Netsu-no-yu where you can see Yumomi performance at day-time. (Unfortunately, they don’t provide any English translation, but it is worthwhile seeing the performance in case you are studying Japanese. )
Kusatsu Onsen has higher possibility to cure skin troubles like eczema
By the way, my major purpose of trip this time is going around the public hot springs where are almost 20 spots in the area. The water quality in Kusatsu Onsen is extremely good and has 6 different hot spring sources base on acidic waters, which is very effective for people who has some health problems, in particular, skin troubles. I have suffered from chronic eczema since my childhood and unfortunately haven’t recovered completely yet. Although I saw so many different dermatologists in my life, I could not find any decisive solutions. Some of my friends who also have the same kind of skin troubles recommended me to come there, because their skin conditions got better after staying for a while. Therefore, Kusatsu Onsen is one of my “rising star” that my symptom will be improved and try to come whenever my skin turns in bad condition.
Public baths are nice places to communicate with local people
What a fantastic thing is that both local residents and tourists can use these public baths for free! How amazing it is! Each space in the public baths is not so wide enough, maybe the bathtub is full if 2-3 people get in, however, we make mutual concessions among visitors and keep clean the spaces by ourselves. I really like an atmosphere of public baths, because it makes me easy to communicate with local residents even we don’t know each other. Sometimes, they tell me how to enjoy Kusatsu Onsen and effective usage of Onsen water etc… I always enjoy the communications with them through Onsen culture.
When I visited there, I found many foreign visitors, especially Asian countries such as China, Taiwan and Korea, and some western people either. We had a big eruption of Mt. Kusatsu-Shirane in January, and some people were injured by the disaster. Just after the eruption, many hotels were cancelled by visitors despite the city being slightly far away from the mountain and natural disasters like this always effect on tourism industries. In response to this, Beppu Onsen, one of the most famous Onsen place made a newspaper advertisement that let tourists visit Kusatsu instead of coming to Beppu. I was so impressed to hear the story and it was heartwarming to know they support each other. Since there is almost no influence of the eruption now, please visit there if you are interested in Kusatsu and our Onsen culture.
- Kusatsu Onsen Tourism Association: https://www.kusatsu-onsen.ne.jp.e.uh.hp.transer.com/top.php
- Netsu-no-yu : https://www.kusatsu-onsen.ne.jp.e.uh.hp.transer.com/netsunoyu/