RELAX, BE HEALED,
Experiencing onsen in Gunma is more than just bathing in the amazing quality, beneficial water. It's also about the scenery of onsen towns and the plentitude of nature nearby that you'll want to take pictures of, and the warm welcome you'll receive from the people.
Kusatsu Onsen has been chosen as the top ranking onsen resort by onsen experts for over 15 years in a row, and it is the highest rated onsen in Japan. It was also the top ranking onsen in eastern Japan over 200 years ago and has long been a favorite of the Japanese people. Why is it so popular? It's because of Kusatsu Onsen's highly acidic waters that are good for the body.
In the middle of the town is the yubatake, or hot water field, that collects and cools down the hot spring that comes out of the ground. This is a symbol of the town. Restaurants and inns are centered around the yubatake, which is lit up at night, creating a magical atmosphere. Choose a yukata from the many choices of colors and styles, then try standing in front of the yubatake. You're certain to enjoy a special experience beyond just bathing in the onsen.
This onsen town is so historic that it even appears by name in Japan's oldest existing poetry compilation that was put together 1,300 years ago. The main symbol of the town is the 365-step Ishidan stone steps. On either side can be found many souvenir shops, Japanese-style inns, and stores selling onsen manju. Try putting on a yukata and going for a walk. Stroll along the 365 steps while enjoying shopping and eating.
Ikaho Onsen's hot springs have two varieties: clear and golden. It differs from inn to inn and hotel to hotel, offering another exciting thing to experience.
Ikaho Onsen is a great place to enjoy all year round. An especially good time is in the autumn (from mid-October through mid-November). The red Kajika-bashi Bridge that is found after you climb the Ishidan stone steps is a famous spot for autumn foliage. The leaves are lit with special lighting at night, letting visitors enjoy them at their most beautiful. The season varies from year to year, but typically sees its peak at the beginning of November.
18 ONSEN AREAS
This is home to 18 onsen resorts and towns like Minakami Onsen, Tanigawa Onsen, Takaragawa Onsen, and Yubiso Onsen. Featured in this picture is Hoshi Onsen, which has a history of 140 years and buildings that are designated as national Tangible Cultural Properties.
Minakami sees a lot of snowfall in the winter (December through February) and features special hot spring experiences where you can view the snow from open-air baths.
Minakami is surrounded by bountiful nature. Majestic mountains from which flow clean waters line the area and provide visitors with beautiful natural scenery. However, looking isn't enough. You can also experience the beauty of nature through outdoor activities like skiing, snowboarding, rafting, and canyoning.
Shima Onsen offers a chance for you to enjoy an special relaxing time. This onsen town has a history that goes back to its founding 1,200 years ago. The name Shima (meaning 40,000) comes from the legend that the hot spring here can help with 40,000 kinds of sicknesses. Its waters are that good for your health. Shima Onsen is popular with women as it leaves bather's skins silky smooth.
Does this picture remind you of anything? This ryokan was one of the models used to create the image of the hot spring lodge that appears in the famous animated feature film Spirited Away. You can find many young people taking commemorative pictures atop the red bridge.
The lakes near Shima Onsen have uniquely colored water. Visitors can see the unusually blue waters of Lake Shimako and Lake Okushimako called Shima Blue. Enjoy a special experience atop the Shima Blue surface of the lakes with activities like canoeing and stand up paddle boarding.