Situated on Japan’s Romantic Road, Kusatsu is a popular hot spring resort surrounded by the rugged mountains of Gunma. It’s centred around the famous yubatake spring source and dotted with onsen baths, while being surrounded by beautiful landscapes ignited by seasonal floral displays.
Things to do in Kusatsu
Follow the footpath that leads around the yubatake to see it beautifully illuminated at night, then soak in the sulphurous waters of one of Kusatsu’s public baths. Relax in the traditional pools of Gozanoyu, experience the different water temperatures of Awaseyu’s wooden baths or mingle with the locals in the large outdoor complex at Sainokawara Rotemburo.
Kusatsu’s hot spring waters are cooled by an age-old tradition known as Yumomi, where large wooden paddles are used to stir the water and cool it to a suitable bathing temperature. Catch a live performance in the Netsunoyu building adjacent to the yubatake, showcasing traditional folk singing and dancing.
Kusatsu is backed by the volcanic peaks of Mount Shirane, a popular destination for hiking and skiing. Follow the trail that leads from the Shirane Resthouse to the Yugama Crater Lake for superb views over its azure waters or jump aboard the chairlifts at Kusatsu Kokusai Ski Resort to access one of Japan’s longest ski runs.
If you’re visiting during summer, walk through the Kazawa Yunomaru Plateau, which ignites with bright red azaleas. Alternatively, head north to explore Lake Nozoriko, where high-altitude shores provide a habitat for around 300 different alpine plant species.
Getting around Kusatsu
Kusatsu is just over three hours’ drive from Tokyo, with the closest railway station around 25 minutes away at Naganohara Kusatsuguchi. Buses connect most of Kusatsu’s sights, while the town centre is small enough to walk around.