Kusatsu Onsen (Hot Springs), relaxation Japanese style
Going to hot springs in Japan is high on the list of great things to do and is a fantastic way to calm the nerves and get refreshed. Few things are as an authentic Japanese experience as going to a Japanese hot spring and enjoying the local Japanese cuisine and accommodations. Amongst hot springs, Kusatsu (located in Gunma prefecture) is considered one of the very best. In fact it has been ranked as the number 1 hot spring by Japan's top travel agents for many years.
The Yubatake shown in the photos above is at the center of the town of Kusatsu and is the main source of the hot spring. An amazing 4,000 litres of hot spring water is naturally pushed up to the surface every minute and distributed through wooden shoots. Aside from the astounding volume of hot spring water the makeup of the water is also unique; with high acidity (pH2.1) it has powerful antibacterial properties and is considered highly therapeutic by hot spring experts. I personally found it to be thoroughly relaxing and my skin was feeling great and looking better after just a couple of soaks.
There is also plenty to see and do, the town itself is interesting, the people are friendly and the surrounding nature is very scenic and refreshing. Moreover there is a number of excellent places to eat and outstanding accommodations. I would highly suggest that you stay at least a night or three, so you have time to really take in the experience. For those of you are skiers you will be happy to know the Kusatsu International Snow & Spa Resort is nearby.
It's about an hour away from Karuizawa in Nagano, so combining a trip to Kusatsu with a stop over to Karuizawa may be the perfect family or romantic getaway plan (hint hint). Kusatsu is very popular amongst domestic Japanese hot spring enthusiasts, so book your accommodations early if you can.
More information including ideas for accommodations: