Best Places to Stay In & Around Kusatsu Onsen
Instantly recognisable thanks to its iconic ‘yubatake’, Kusatsu Onsen is one of Japan’s most famous and popular traditional ‘onsen’ (hot spring) towns, offering visitors a fantastic range of accommodation and a truly memorable travel experience. On this page you will find the following information:
Located at an altitude of around 1200 metres, the hot springs of Kusatsu Onsen is fed a copious amount of volcanic water from nearby Mt. Shirane. This is a dramatic yet beautiful landscape. Sitting between Mt. Shirane and Mt. Asama – two of the most active volcanoes on Honshu and part of the wider Joshinetsu Kogen National Park – a visit to Kusatsu reveals a world and lifestyle found in few other countries.
25 Things to Do Around Kusatsu Onsen & Where to Stay
One of Japan’s most famous hot spring towns, Kusatsu Onsen sits high in the…
Visitors heading to Kusatsu Onsen can choose from a large range of accommodation options most of which have their own in-house hot springs. You’ll find everything from traditional ‘ryokan’ guesthouses, large Western-style hotels to more basic lodges. Prices also vary with high-end, mid-range and budget options all available.
WHERE TO STAY WHEN VISITING KUSATSU ONSEN?
As one of Japan’s most famous hot spring towns, Kusatsu Onsen offers plenty of accommodation options catering to all budgets while it can also be visited as a daytrip from nearby destinations including Karuizawa, Shiga Kogen and other onsen towns. In this section we provide information about accommodation in the following areas:
While Kusatsu Onsen offers lots of good accommodation options, given the fame and popularity of the town, the most popular and best guesthouses and hotels can book-out well in advance. You should therefore be able to find what you’re looking for in town, don’t hesitate to also consider staying in nearby Karuizawa and using local bus services to visit Kusatsu as a daytrip or for visitors with their own transport, you can also do so from nearby Manza Onsen and wider Shiga Kogen area or other famous hot spring towns of Gunma including Shima Onsen, Minakami Onsen and Ikaho Onsen:
KUSATSU ONSEN AREA
There’s no shortage of accommodation options in Kusatsu Onsen. Hotels and guesthouses are concentrated around the iconic ‘yubatake’ which feeds the hot springs of accommodation throughout town. There’s a large range of accommodation including high-end ‘ryokan’ (traditional guesthouses), large hotels along with mid-range and budget options. Given the fame of the town and its hot springs, accommodation can book-out well in advance on weekends and holidays so if you you’re your eye on a specific hotel or guesthouse, make sure to lock-in that booking early. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Kusatsu Onsen Area’ hotel page.
Alternatively, visitors looking for a larger range of accommodation including high-end, Western-style hotels can consider staying in nearby Karuizawa. Readily accessible using local buses from Karuizawa Station – taking around 80-minutes – or 70-minutes for travellers driving themselves, accommodation in Karuizawa is concentrated around the following three areas: Karuizawa Station Area — Old Ginza / Kyukaruizawa Area — Naka-Karuizawa Area. For more information, see our ‘Best Places to Stay in Karuizawa’ page.
MANZA ONSEN AREA
Located around 30 minutes drive to the west of Kusatsu Onsen, Manza Onsen is another unique – but notably smaller – hot spring village known for its distinctive volcanic water. With a slightly lower altitude of around 1800 metres, Manza is set in a dramatic yet beautiful alpine landscape blessed with abundant thermal water. Much like Kusatsu, Manza’s water is known for its highly acidic and curative properties. A range of hotels and ryokan provide good options to stay. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Manza Onsen Area’ hotel page.
SHIGA KOGEN AREA
Manza Onsen sits within the wider area of Joshinetsu Kogen National Park. Joshinetsu Kogen is Japan’s fourth largest national park and includes the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Shiga Kogen Highlands. As a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, this is an important and beautiful alpine landscape that offers hiking trails, hot springs and some excellent accommodation. Best enjoyed driving the Shiga Kusatsu Kogen Route – open from May to November, Shiga Kogen can be enjoyed in combination with a visit to Kusatsu for any visitor with their own transport. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Shiga Kogen Area’ hotel page.
MINAKAMI ONSEN AREA
Along with Kusatsu Onsen, Ikaho Onsen and Shima Onsen (described below), Minakami Onsen is considered one of Gunma’s four best hot spring towns. Accommodation ranges from large hotels to family-run ‘ryokan’, catering to all tastes and needs. Most accommodation reserve their hot springs for the exclusive use of guests however, much like Kusatsu, some do allow use by day-visitors for between JPY500 to JPY1500. Another quaint town set amongst a beautiful natural setting, visitors to Minakami will quickly feel refreshed and relieved to be away the hustle and hassle of daily life but you will need a car to move between the two towns easily – around 60 minutes drive. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Minakami Onsen Area’ hotel page.
IKAHO ONSEN AREA
Another great hot spring town around 70 minutes drive from Kusatsu, Ikaho Onsen is located on Mt. Haruna and is known for its iron-rich waters. Home to many guesthouses and onsen, Ikaho is known for its 300-metre long stone path leading through the town. Either side of the street, traditional guesthouses, shops, restaurants and old-fashioned games parlours create a quaint atmosphere typical of an old hot spring town. Well-known for Japanese but less so for international visitors, it’s well-worth getting on the beaten path and making your way to Ikaho Onsen. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Ikaho Onsen Area’ hotel page.
SHIMA ONSEN AREA
Believed to be one of the oldest hot spring towns in Japan, Shima Onsen is blessed with more than forty water courses and is home to many excellent ‘ryokan’ (traditional guesthouses). Nestled in a beautiful valley, visitors can enjoy a tranquil getaway in this quaint, traditional town. Spread along the Shima River Valley, it’s a pleasant town to explore on-foot before retiring to your guesthouse for dinner and evening hot spring. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Shima Onsen Area’ hotel page.
25 THINGS TO DO AROUND KUSATSU ONSEN
Any visit to Kusatsu Onsen is all about the hot springs! Fed by the volcanic waters of nearby Mount Shirane, the ‘onsen’ (hot springs) of Kusatsu have long been known for their rejuvenating powers. Hot spring hotels and guesthouses are spread throughout the town, while in the surrounding area visitors can enjoy the open expanse of Joshinetsu Kogen National Park, the nearby mountain resort town of Karuizawa and lots of other great destinations and activities. Our ’25 Things to Do Around Kusatsu Onsen’ page has lots of tips and suggestions of what’s on offer and accommodation listings in the area.
HOW TO GET TO KUSATSU ONSEN
Though located high in the mountains of Joshinetsu Kogen National Park, Kusatsu Onsen is relatively easy to reach thanks to Japan’s fantastic train network. For most visitors, it will mean going via Karuizawa Station – a convenient stop on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line running from Tokyo to Kanazawa via Nagano. For detailed information about how to reach the town, see our ‘How to Get to Kusatsu Onsen’ page.
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