Budget travel tips
- If you are not using a rail pass, get a night bus to save on accommodation (which can be expensive in Kusatsu Onsen).
- Be sure to walk around the town and try some free samples! The traditional, and freshly baked, Japanese bean cakes are to die for.
Things to do
Meaning ‘hot water field’, Yabatake is a huge area in the center of town where the hot spring water is divided and cooled. Bring your camera and take probably the best photos of your trip.
Another unique experience in Kusatsu Onsen, here you can see ‘Yumomi’ performances. The water is cooled down using wooden planks, while dancers perform traditional folk songs to watchers.
Performance times: see board outside bathhouse (north side of Yabatake)
Price: 500 yen
There are a few free footbaths located around Yabatake, open 24/7!
Sai-no-Kawara Hot Spring
Inside the park is this huge outdoor spring, offering an extremely authentic hot spring experience.
Open: 9 AM to 8 PM
Price: 500 yen
Recommended hostels and cheap hotels
Probably the cheapest place here, I’m afraid, but you will only need to stay 1 night to get everything done in Kusatsu Onsen. This is a centrally located, traditional inn with tatami rooms. Check prices at Booking.com.
More at Booking.com
How to get there
From Takasaki station, take the JR Agatsuma Line to Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi station. This connects with a direct bus to Kusatsu Onsen (690 yen, 30 mins). Note the bus fee is waived only if you use a Japan Rail Pass, and not other passes.
Tokyo to Takasaki with a Japan Rail Pass, JR East Pass, JR TOKYO Wide Pass or Tokyo-Osaka Hokuriku Arch Pass
Take a JR Shinkansen Line to Takasaki (2 hours) and then transfer from there (see above). There is also a less frequent direct Limited Express train from Ueno station to Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi station (2.5 hours), which also connects with a bus.
Tokyo to Takasaki without a rail pass
The trip can be done on local trains from Ueno or Shinjuku in Tokyo (3 hours, 3020 yen). Alternatively, there are direct buses from Tokyo with JR Bus from Shinjuku Bus Terminal (4 hours, 3300 yen).
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