Travel . Lifestyle . Dining


Central Japan Self Drive Itinerary - Kusatsu Itinerary & Things to do in Kusatsu!

Central Japan Self Drive Itinerary

Central Japan Self Drive Itinerary
Located 1200 m above sea level and in the mountains of Gumma Prefecture, Kusatsu is ranked the best Onsen town in Japan. Blessed with high-quality spring water, the spring water is said to cure every illness except lovesick. We continued our road trip from Karuizawa to Kusatsu and experience the most popular onsen town ourselves.  

Getting to Kusatsu from Tokyo
By Train
Getting from Tokyo to Kusatsu
The nearest train station to Kusatsu Osen Town is Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi Station. From Tokyo, one can take the train from Tokyo station to Takasaki Station and to Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi Station. The entire journey takes around 2hr 45 minutes.  Afterwards, From Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi Station, one need to take a 30-minute bus to Kusatsu Onsen. Do note that there are limited train ride service from Tokyo to Kusatsu. Thus, be sure to check out the time schedule and not to miss it.

Alternatively, take the train from Tokyo to Karuizawa and a bus from Karuizawa to Kusatsu Onsen! The bus ride from Karuizawa to Kusatsu is from 80 -100 minutes. Do note that JR Pass are not valid between Karuizawa and Kusatsu. Highly recommend you to stay one night in Karuizawa before continuing your journey to Kusatsu.
Read more about Karuizawa here

By Bus
Getting from Tokyo to Kusatsu by bus
The cheapest but longest way to Kusatsu is by Bus. The one-way 4-hour bus ride cost 3500 yen. You can board from Shinjuku JR Highway bus terminal or Tokyu Bus operator. You can check the timeslot and book your ticket here

By Car
Getting to Kusatsu
The journey from Narita Airport is 4.5 hours to Kusatsu is 4.5 hours. Instead of driving the full 4 hours. We took a stopover at Kawagoe and stay at night at Karuizawa before continuing our journey to Kusatsu. The journey from Karuizawa to Kusatsu is only an hour away. 

What determine the best Onsen?
I’ve visited many Onsen prior to this trip and to be honest I was sceptical about the title. We visited Obihiro last year and visited the beauty onsen. Despite having the beauty Title, the onsen didn’t win any other award. So what actually makes the onsen in Kusatsu so popular? I decide to do research on onsen and found out that the Japanese do give grading to Onsen. Below are the few factors that determine the standard of Onsen. 

The quality of Onsen is usually determined by its nutrient and % of nutrient in the water. The nutrients contain minerals such as as well as calcium, magnesium, sodium-calcium chloride, sulfate and etc. These minerals have a moisturizing effect on the body. 

Kusatsu has the most acidic Onsen water with antibacterial powers in Japan. Not only it is mineral-rich, but it also helps to kill almost all bacteria and microorganism, making it a favourite hot spring in the country

Source of Origin
With 7 a different source of water, Kutsasu has the largest flow of water volume. The constant flowing of water makes it possible for all Ryokan in Kusatsu to provide spring water that does not need to be reheated, diluted or adjusted.  

It is said that the thermal effect from Onsen helps to improve blood circulation and metabolism. The common temperature of Onsen is between 38 - 40 degree. However, the one in Kusatsu can be as hot as 46 degrees!

Things to do in Kusatsu 
If there is the only thing you need to do in Kusatsu, it will be just to chill and enjoy the onsen! There are many hot spring resorts in Kusatsu for you to experience this authentic onsen experience. Even if you don’t stay in a ryokan, there are many public baths for you to experience!

Ryokan Tamura 
Ryokan Tamura Kusastu
We stayed at a traditional Ryokan - Ryokan Tamura in Kusatsu and for a night with half-board service to enjoy the full traditional experience. Even though the staff obasan that help us with our dinner doesn’t speak English, she managed her to convey her thoughts through smiles and body language. Definitely, a unique way to experience Kusatsu the local way!

The iconic landmark of Kusatsu used to be the central place for storing water before transporting to various ryokan and homes. Be sure to visit in the morning and night because it gives off a different vibe! At night, when the light shines on Yubatake, it feels very romantic! 

Yumomi Performance
Yumoni Performance
The next morning, we visited Yumomi Performance – a performance where the local dance to folk music while showing how Yumomi is done. You can even try it out at the end of the session and get a certificate! Do get the voucher from your ryokan or here for a discounted rate! 

Sainokawara Street and Sainokawara Park

Put on your Yukata and take a walk. With many traditional inns located along Sainokawara street, one can enjoy the rustic vibe Sainokawara street offers. If time allows, continue walking and visit Sainokawara Park. The 500 sqm park offers Outdoor Onsen! One can soak their feet in the outdoor and enjoy the legendary onsen! 

Romantic Road 
We continued our journey from Kusatsu to Kurobe. The long drive was rewarded with an amazing view. We stop by the highest peak along all highway and the view was amazing! We didn’t get to see the much of the colour change earlier on but was managed to see it during our drive.

Central Japan Self drive itinerary 

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