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Kusatsu Onsen / Hot Springs in Japan

Kusatsu Onsen is one of Japan's most famous hot spring resorts, blessed with large volumes of high quality hot spring water, said to cure every illness but lovesickness.
Well known as a hot spring resort for many centuries, Kusatsu's fame was further boasted by German doctor Erwin von Baelz, who served at the imperial court in the late 1800s and recommended Kusatsu for its water's health benefits.


Situated at an altitude of 1200 meters above sea level in the mountains of Gunma Prefecture, Kusatsu also offers skiing in winter and hiking during the rest of the year to be enjoyed in combination with hot spring bathing.
Kusatsu is located along Japan's Romantic Road.

Kusatsu has the largest natural flow of hot spring water in all of Japan, much of which surfaces at the yubatake in the town center. The sulfurous, highly acidic water has been considered among Japan's best for centuries, and has been lauded as a treatment for ailments that include arthritis, fatigue and skin disease among others.

The baths come in a variety of styles including stone, wood, indoor and outdoor types. And visitors to Kusatsu can enjoy them either at ryokan, or at public bath houses. The ryokan baths are freely available to staying guests; however, many ryokan open their baths during the day to the general public as well, with an admission fee (typically 500-1000 yen).

Among the public bath houses located around Kusatsu, the larger ones with more baths and facilities, charge admission (typically 500-1000 yen). However, there are also eighteen communal baths across the town that consist of only one or two small (2-4 person) tubs and are free to use.

One of the most famous and popular public baths is Sainokawara Rotenburo, a large open air bath in Sainokawara Park. It has a nice mix of pleasant atmosphere, good water quality and beautiful scenery that makes for an excellent rotenburo experience.
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_uJiKeZAs5eU/SevZ1tGWLmI/AAAAAAAAG58/7kyCDo85hbw/s200/RIMG0153.jpg http://cdn3.rtstc.com/media/sm/1d/87/1d87fe0ea3-Ryokan_Suisensou.jpg
(Ryokan guests)
(Sainokawara Rotenburo in the snow)

Some bath houses offer a special bathing and medical treatment called jikanyu (lit. timed bath) where bathers bathe in extremely hot water (typically around 48 degrees Celsius) for about three minutes. The hot water's benefits include opening your pores and increasing blood flow within your body and to your brain.

Other bath related attractions in Kusatsu are the Onsen Museum on the third floor of the bus terminal, displaying the history of onsen and Kusatsu town, and the Yumomi, a traditional method of cooling down the hot spring water to bathing temperature that includes dancing and singing. Performances are held daily and can be viewed at Netsunoyu.

Sainokawara Rotenburo
10 minute walk from the Yubatake
Hours: Apr-Nov 7:00-20:00, Dec-Mar 9:00-20:00
Admission: 500 yen
This large public rotenburo (open air bath), located in Sainokawara Park, can accommodate 100 bathers. This outdoor bath offers nice seasonal views, especially of autumn colors in fall and snowy forests in winter.

15 minute walk from the Yubatake
Hours: daily 9:00-21:00
Admission: 800 yen
This public bath house offers a variety of indoor and outdoor baths. The main attraction is Awaseyu, a traditional wooden indoor bath house with seven tubs with water differing in acidity level and temperature (from 38 to 46 degrees). Awaseyu is gender mixed except during designated women-only time slots.

Next to the Yubatake
Hours: daily 5:00-23:00 (closed at 8:00 for cleaning)
Admission: Free
One of eighteen local communal baths, Shirohatanoyu is the closest to the Yubatake, just a few steps from the hot spring source. It has two baths that fit 2-4 people each. The water is extremely hot as it comes directly from the spring.

Baelz Onsen Center
15 minute walk from the Yubatake
Hours: daily 10:00-19:00
Admission: 900 yen
This health center is named for Dr. Erwin Von Baelz, the Imperial Family doctor during the Meiji period, who promoted Kusatsu as a health resort. The center's observatory baths offer views of the surrounding mountains.

By TS on Sep 28, 2011
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Author:T. SATOH