History of Kusatsu Onsen
Sights to See ① Yubatake
Sights to See ② Yumomi
Sights to See ③ Kusatsu Onsen’s Three Famous Public Baths

A famous Japanese poem reads "the illness of love can't be fixed, neither by a doctor nor Kusatsu's hot springs", and is written proof of how Kusatsu's spring water has always been renown for its medicinal effects.
Kusatsu Onsen Hot Springs is located in western Gunma Prefecture, and is listed among Japan's 3 greatest hot springs alongside Gifu Prefecture's Gero Onsen, and Hyogo Prefecture's Arima Onsen. 32,000L of hot spring water is naturally released to the surface at Kusatsu Onsen, and this is the highest rate among any other Japanese hot spring. Kusatsu Onsen takes pride in its abundance of high-acidity hot spring water.

Kusatsu Onsen has some incredibly famous sights such as the "Yubatake" (hot spring fields) and "Yumomi" (a tradition of lowering hot spring temperatures with songs and dances). With a focus on those, this article will introduce you to some of the best ways to enjoy Kusatsu Onsen!

History of Kusatsu Onsen

The exact time period in which Kusatsu Onsen's hot springs were discovered is yet to be found out. Some have attributed its discovery to men as ancient as the royal, Yamato-Takeru-no-Mikoto of the Kofun Period (around 300 - 538CE), and others have mentioned Japan's first shogun, Minamoto-no-Yoritomo of the Kamakura Period (1185 - 1333) as Kusatsu Onsen's founder. While neither Kusatsu Onsen's founder nor founding date is known, the hot spring is understood to have been frequented by significant figures from all over Japan, and was a commonly known destination for all of them.

In one theory, Kusatsu Onsen's natural springs are said to be deeply related to the nearby Mount Shirane. This theory explains that the rain and snow falling over Mount Shirane seeps into the ground, and then is warmed over as long as 30 years by underground magma until it flows through the ground to a lower altitude, thus becoming the spring source of Kusatsu Onsen.




The "Yubatake" is one of the most well-known sights at Kusatsu Onsen. The Yubatake, or "hot spring field" releases approximately 4,000L of hot spring water from its 1,600㎡ space, and has come to be one of the defining visual symbols of Kusatsu Onsen.

When you arrive at Kusatsu Onsen, the first thing you should do is take a stroll around the Yubatake. You will immediately find a great number of historical sites and cultural heritage assets already! The rows and rows of hot spring barrels, foot baths, and photo spots will let give you a full experience of Kusatsu Onsen already!

At night until 11:00pm, the Yubatake is lit up. The Yubatake gives off a different feeling at night when it is lit up, and creates a more dream-like atmosphere.


Yubatake light-up

The Yubatake is where one of the hot springs' composing ingredients, "Yunohana" is harvested. Yunohana means "hot spring flower", and is a flaky residue that forms when hot springs are cooled down.

The Yunohana is dried and turned into a powder form, and sold as a "natural bath salt" that allows you to enjoy Kusatsu Onsen's hot spring quality even in your own bathtub back home. This long-loved product is sold at many of Kusatsu Onsen's souvenir shops and inns, at around a price of ¥1,400.

The natural bath salts are also hard to come by, as their extremely high popularity makes them disappear almost immediately as they go up on display. The harvesting of Yunohana is conducted irregularly at intervals of about 1 to 2 months, so their supply is not consistent either. Some vendors accept prior reservations, which is greatly recommended for those who want to get their hands on the bath salts.

Yumomi at the "Netsu-no-yu"



Yumomi means to "knead the hot spring", and is a traditional technique used in the Kusatsu Onsen area to cool down the hot spring waters before bathing. The technique was introduced in the Edo period (1603 - 1867) and has been used ever since.

A long, wooden plank is used to stir the hot water to "knead" the surface cool it down. Unlike the common method of cooling hot springs by adding water, the Yumomi method allows the hot spring to maintain its original density of minerals.

Other than cooling down the water, Yumomi is said to serve the purpose of a pre-bath exercise. The song sung during Yumomi is called the “Kusatsu Yumomi-uta”, and is a collection of three traditional tunes sung in the Kusatsu Onsen area.


Yumomi experience

At Netsu-no-yu, located right next to the Yubatake, you can experience Yumomi. There are 6 dance performances every day by the "Yumomi Girls", and during the performances there are opportunities to try out Yumomi yourself.

At the regular yumomi shows, the yumomi experience is limited to 40 people per show. However, on weekends and public holidays, a special Yumomi Experience Event is held, and there everyone is guaranteed a chance to try yumomi.

Yumomi viewing

・When: Everyday (possibility of closure due to hot spring maintenance)
・Times: 9:30a.m., 10:00a.m., 3:30p.m., 4:00p.m., 4:30p.m.
・Fees: ¥600 for adults, ¥300 for children

Yumomi experience

・ When: Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays (possibility of closure due to hot spring maintenance)
・ Times: 11:30a.m. – 2:00p.m. (final registration at 1:45p.m.)
・ Fees: ¥250

Kusatsu Onsen’s Three Famous Public Baths

Kusatsu is home to numerous bathhouses, and it might be hard to choose which ones to go to. If you don’t know where to go, then visiting the three big public bathhouses is highly recommended.

The three are Otaki-no-yu, Goza-no-yu and Saino-kawara Rotemburo.

You can purchase a pass that allows you to go to all three baths for a cheaper price than buying the tickets individually. If you go to all three, you can get a certificate of completion.

Sanyu Meguri Tegata Pass

The Sanyu Meguri Tegata Allows you to go to all three of the big public baths for a much more reasonable price than buying each bathhouse’s ticket individually.

Buying the tickets individually would add up to cost ¥2,100 for adults and ¥1,000 for children. With the pass, you can go to all three for ¥1,600 for adults and ¥700 for children. There is no expiration date on the pass, so you don’t have to rush to use it.


Yubatake Candle “Light of Dream” (every month)

During the event, the staircase from the Yubatake to Kosenji Temple is decorated with 1,200 candles. From the top of the staircase, you can see the lit up Yubatake with the candles, and the view is quite romantic.

This event is usually held on weekends, and is sometimes cancelled to bad weather (though it is rare). You can check the event calendar online.


Nearest station: Kusatsu Onsen Bus Terminal

From Shinjuku Station

【Shinjuku Sta.】Highway Bus Joshu Meguri / for Kusatsu Onsen
→【Kusatsu Onsen Bus Terminal】

From Maebashi Station

【Maebashi Sta.】JR Ryomo Line / for Takasaki
→【Shin Maebashi Sta.】JR Agatsuma Line / for Manza
→【Naganoharakusatsuguchi Sta.】JR Local Bus / for Kusatsu Onsen
→【Kusatsu Onsen Bus Terminal】

Spend a relaxing few days at Kusatsu Onsen!

Kusatsu Onsen has great access from Tokyo, at only a 4-hour bus ride or 3-hour train ride from Tokyo. Kusatsu Onsen can easily be visited on a day trip, but if you want to see the Yubatake light-ups at night, or the "Light of Dream" shows, that might not be the best itinerary for you. If you ahve the time, Kusatsu Onsen is best enjoyed on a slow, overnight trip.


Kusatsu, Kusatsu-machi, Agatsuma-gun, Gunma
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