Home to one of Japan’s most famous hot spring resorts, Kusatsu also offers world-class skiing facilities during winter and excellent hiking opportunities during the rest of the year. Its natural wonders are complemented by national parks and picturesque temples, while a family-friendly zoo houses rare reptile species.
Things to do in Kusatsu
The Shirane Shrine is dedicated to God Yamato Takeru, who is said to have discovered the hot springs in Kusatsu. Browse the souvenir stalls at Yudaki Dori, then climb the steep stone stairs to marvel at the temple’s architectural details, which are surrounded by colourful rhododendron shrubs.
For a day of hiking, head to Mount Kusatsu-Shirane. The active volcano is 2,160 metres tall and offers scenic views of the emerald Yugama Lake. You can also admire the region’s natural beauty at Joshinetsu Kogen National Park, which features magnificent views of the mountains and highlands.
Rest your weary muscles and rejuvenate your skin in Kusatsu Onsen, one of three major onsens in Japan. It offers the unique method of “jikanyu” timed bathing and “yumomi” water beating, techniques that have been used since the Edo period.
Travelling with the kids? Take them to the Kusatsu Tropical Wonderland to experience the highest zoo in Japan. It’s the top zoo in the country for reptiles and is home to over 300 species of mammals, birds, amphibians and fish from sub-tropical regions.
Getting around Kusatsu
The most convenient way to get around Kusatsu is by bus or car. The nearest train station is Naganohara Kusatsuguchi, 2.5 hours from Tokyo, where you’ll find a bus that travels to Kusatsu in around 30 minutes.