Since I am living in Tokyo for over 10 years, I am proud of myself as Tokyo Trip Expert. Here, I will tell you everything I know about how travelers from all over the world can amazingly enjoy the journey with all reasonable hotels, tasty food choices, and amazing spots including my secret recommends with travel tips in this biggest metropolitan city in the world. For Tokyo trip, I believe 4 days stay should be minimum, and if you prefer including staying hot spring spots close to Tokyo, around one week would be ideal to maximize your all fantastic experience in this trip.

For Vol.6, I’ll tell you about my most favorite and closest hot spring spots in Tokyo, Kusatsu Onsen.

Night view in Kusatsu Onsen

Kusatsu Onsen

From Wikipedia – Kusatsu Onsen (草津温泉) is a hot spring resort located in Gunma Prefecture, Japan, northwest of Tokyo. It is a popular tourist destination.There are 13 public baths at Kusatsu Onsen. The small bathhouses that are free for both town residents and tourists are managed by the townspeople themselves. The source of its hot water is nearby Mount Kusatsu-Shirane and the appearance of the waters range from cloudy to clear, because the sources of the water that the baths rely upon are different. The springs were a well known resort for centuries but they became one of the best known of such locations after the water there was recommended for its health benefits by Erwin von Baelz a German doctor who taught medicine at Tokyo University. The locals claim the hot springs can cure all forms of ailments except love sickness. Guests have claimed that pain disappears while soaking in its hot water.

I know most visitors in Tokyo usually visit to Hakone to enjoy Onsen near to Tokyo, but, to me and most of Japanese who are Onsen lovers prefer to visit to Kusatsu because the quality of Onsen is much better than Hakone, there is lots of tasty local food around this area, and you can enjoy skying and snow boarding in winter season. We usually stay here for 2 nights. And We enjoy Snow boarding for one day and Onsen and local area for another day.

You can check the weather information for Snow boarding here. And you can rent all items for skiing and snow boarding there, so, even if you have no tool, you don’t have any problem with it. Very convenient.

Transportation to Kusatsu Onsen

You have mainly two choices to get to Kusatsu Onsen. One is express train and the other one is to rent a car. I recommend to use express train because by car, it will take 3 hours and 30min at minimum, so, a bit far away. You can take the express train from JR Ueno Station. Once you arrive at JR Naganohara Kusatsu Guch Station, the final destination of the express train, you can smoothly get on a bus which will go to the major bus station of Kusatsu Onsen. From there, Yubatake, the centor of Kusatsu Onsen is by 5-10 walk. Here is Google Map Link from JR Hamamatsucho station to Kusatsu Onsen.

It will take 2hours and 30 min in total. You have spend one hour more than to get to Hakone, but, I guarantee you that you can experience real and deep Onsen culture there.

Ryokan in Kusatsu Onsen

And this is Onsen, so, the choice of Ryokan (Hotels) will be very critical. I have some recommends.

Yoshinoya

My first choice is always here because it’s close to Yubatake, centor of Kusatsu Onsen, and the room is very Japanese style and nice. But, the price is cheep. And here is my travel tip for Kusatsu. Ryokan around Yubatake areas are Sudomari-style which means bed without meals. But, they have many tasty restaurants around Yubatake area which I tell you later, so no worries. The key thing is you can stay in cozy Ryokan with very reasonable deals. Yoshinoya is the best one to me at this moment.

The entrance gate of Yoshinoya

They have nice lobby space

The room is European Japanese style. So, all people around the world can relax

And, the most importantly, of course they have Onsen inside.

You can book this Ryokan from here.

Yubatake Soan

My second choice is always Yubatale Soan.  Since it’s located just in front of Yubatake, thus, very convenient access to all tasty restaurants around there. And the other good point is the free shuttle bus going to Kusatsu International Ski pull out in front of this hotel, too. So, this Ryokan will be the most convenient Ryokan in Kusatsu. But, the room and Onsen are so good, too! This Ryokan is also Sudomari style.

And, one of my favorite thing to do in this Ryokan is to enjoy Ashiyu – Onsen for foot. The space is inside of the Ryokan, so, not so cold, and you can enjoy tasty sweets and beer, too. That’s so cool! 🙂

 

You can book this Ryokan from here.

 

 

Naraya

If you wanna experience one of the most luxury Ryokan in Kusatsu, Naraya will be the one. It’s a bit expensive. This Ryokan is actually famous for Shogun – the governor of Japan in Edo-time – stayed here, thus, they have history. They serve tasty meals, so, if you prefer to experience more traditional Ryokan style, Naraya will be a fantastic choice.


You can book this hotel from here.

 

Kusatsu Hotel

If you prefer more reasonable choice than Naraya to experience typical Ryokan style, Kusatsu Hotel will be a really nice one. It’s a bit far away from Yubatake area, but, they serve meals, so, no worries. Also, they have amazingly relaxing outside Onsen. I love it.


You can book this hotel from here.

 

Kusatsu Now Resort Hotel

For final recommends, if you prefer to enjoy more Skiing and Snow boarding, Kusatsu Now Resort Hotel will be a great choice because you can get to Kusatsu International Ski by one minute walk, and the shuttle bus which get to Yubatake area pull out in front of the hotel. So, very convenient.

 

You can book this Ryokan from here.

 

Tasty Restaurants in Kusatsu Onsen

These are my favorite restaurant in Kusatsu Onsen. All are very tasty!

Mikuniya

I love Soba and Tempura here. Mikuniya is probably the most popular restaurant in Kusatsu. These are really good. Since lunch time is always busy but, they don’t take reservation, so, dinner time will be nice.

You can check the restaurant information here.

Tamura

I love Unagi-don (grilled eel with special BBQ source and rise) here. Since this restaurant is only place where you can have unagi-don, you must go there one time during your stay.

 

You can book this restaurant here.

Ryuuen

Here, you have very tasty Chinese. My favorite one is Fried Harumaki, Steamed Shumai, and Grilled Dumpring. Those are pretty big and very juicy! And, beers here is so good, too. Lunch time is always busy, so, you should make reservation.

You can book this restaurant from here.

Dan

Dan is casual izakaya style, all food are home-made style. So, you can have Japanese mother style food here. It’s cozy, too. Especially, grilled pork with ginger source here is good 🙂 Please try.

You can book this restaurant from here.

Yubatake Soan

Finally and actually, Yubatake soan has their lunch, and those are very good, too 🙂 My favorite is Okkirikomi, their local miso soup noodle with lots of vegetable. Please try.

You can check this restaurant here.

And if you wanna extend your stay around these area, I’ll recommend you to visit Karuizawa Area, because they have pretty big outlet shopping mall. From Kusatsu to Karuizawa, taking bus will be easiest way because it will take one hour.

Karuizawa Shopping Plaza

You can check this outlet mall information here. And here is Google Map Link. From Karuizawa, you can take Shinkansen to get back to JR Tokyo Station.

This is all about Kusatsu Onsen. Also, about my hotel recommendations in Tokyo, here is the link.

Tokyo Trip Vol.1 – Why you should stay in Hamamatsucho

From Vol.7, I’ll tell you about the local area of Tokyo. Actually, you can experience great nature in this metropolitan city in the world.

Tokyo Trip Vol.7 – Okutama, Lake Okutama, Okutama Onsen