5 Onsens In Gunma Prefecture You Need To Check Out | CoolJapan

Located about two hours by train from Tokyo, Gunma Prefecture is a landlocked prefecture well known for its beautiful mountain scenery and its top-quality hot springs. In fact, the prefecture is home to more than 450 natural onsen, with about a quarter of them including accommodation. 


An example of an onsen in Gunma

Yubatake, a hot water field, in Kusatsu-cho. (Photo from: Gunma Prefectural Government)



Should things finally ease up, here are five onsens to consider for your next trip: 

 


Kusatsu


Arguably the most famous hot spring district in Japan, Kusatsu is renowned for its large volume of mineral-rich water. Originating from Kusatsu’s volcanic Mount Shirane, the melted snow from the peak seeps into the ground where it absorbs minerals and gets heated by magma before it reaches the lower elevation of the town where it gets pumped out in the yubatake (hot water field). Kusatsu’s yubatake gushes out a whopping 8,500 gallons of natural onsen water every minute, making it the highest volume in the country.



 

You can enjoy the health benefits of Kusatsu’s hot spring water at any of the many public baths and privately owned ryokan dotting the area. Some of the most popular public baths include the sprawling outdoor bath, Sainokawara Rotemburo; as well as Ohtakinoyu, an indoor bath that features awaseyu (partition baths), a unique tradition where you start at a bath of a lower temperature and slowly make your way up to the hottest one.

Manza



  

Perched 1800m above sea level, this hot spring resort town is often described as the “hot spring closest to the sky”. The water here is among the most sulphuric in Japan, offering a host of health benefits including improving blood circulation and boosting metabolism. The area offers a wide variety of onsen, from the massive 232-room Manza Prince Hotel to the more serene Nisshinkan, which overlooks the snowy mountain range.

Ikaho




Located halfway up Mount Harunasan at an elevation of 700m, Ikaho Onsen is a hot spring resort town with a rich history that can be traced back to the 8th century. Known for its distinctive reddish-brown hue, the iron-laden thermal water here is said to help alleviate skin conditions. To get to the hot springs, you’ll have to make your way up a 365-step stone stairway in the middle of the old town. Lined with small family-run restaurants, souvenir shops and game stalls, this atmospheric town centre offers you a glimpse into yesteryear Japan. 

Minakami




With a dramatic backdrop that is Mount Tanigawa, the hot spring town of Minakami draws visitors far and wide with its raw, rugged beauty. Bettei Senjuan is one of the most luxurious ryokans in the area, with its elegant interiors that marry traditional Japanese design elements with contemporary fixtures. Each of the 18 rooms come with its own private hot spring bath but you can also take your pick from a number of public baths, each carefully designed to showcase the beautiful mountainous scenery.  For something even more exclusive, book yourself into Bettei Yaeno, a well-appointed ryokan with just four guest houses. Each house comes with an attached semi-open-air onsen bath that looks out to a leafy garden. For breakfast and dinner, enjoy a sumptuous kaiseki spread in the comfort of your own room. 

Shima




With a name that means “40,000”, "Shima" comes from the legend that its hot spring waters can cure 40,000 types of ailments. Folklore aside, the clear stream onsen, also known as “Seiryu No Yu”, is especially popular with women as it lends the skin a smooth and lustrous sheen. With more than 30 different types of lodgings available in the area, you’ll be sure to find one that best suits your needs. If you’re travelling with young children in tow, you might want to check out the tourist favourite, Shima Onsen Kashiwaya Ryokan, while those who like to tap into their literary side can visit Shimakan, famous for being the onsen of choice for Japanese authors such as Osamu Dazai. 


(Cover photo from: Gunma Prefectural Government)

READ MORE ON THIS TOPIC
  1. 1.Yubatake
  2. 2.Sainokawara Rotenburo
  3. 3. Ohtakinoyu
  4. 4.Manza Prince Hotel
  5. 5.Nisshinkan
  6. 6.Ikaho Onsen stone stairway
  7. 7.Bettei Senjuan
  8. 8. Bettei Yaeno
  9. 9.Shima Onsen Kashiwaya Ryokan
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