#4368

Back to nature at Kusatsu

One of the great things about Kusatsu is that it's out in the heart of Japan's countryside which, while one of the most attractive features of Japan, remains unexplored to many visitors who zip through tunnels on the Shinkansen on their journey from city to city.

Sainokawara Park is another unique, 'only-in Kusatsu' spot were you can stroll among chalk white and emerald pools of hot spring water.

If you are able to get up to a high point in Kusatsu – for example the ski slopes or a high floor at Hotel Sakurai, you see that mountains ranges extend as far as you can see. But experiencing nature in Japan is really taken to the next level when bathing in a hot spring.

http://hotel-sakurai.co.jp

Other than a small towel, you literally are naked. You can't take books or digital devices into the baths and there's very little noise or other distractions on the walls, putting you in a really good spot to stop, relax, breathe and ponder something … or ponder nothing. If you go in off-peak hours or are lucky enough to have a private bath you may also find yourself on your own. It's precious to experience peace and calm like this if you normally live in a bustling town or city.

While indoor pools are nice, I almost always spend most of my time in the outdoor bath. In winter, you'll face a few unclothed seconds outside in freezing temperatures but immersing yourself in the warm pool makes the challenge worth it. That’s part of the back to nature experience. Often there will be a covering of snow around the bath perfecting the seasonal scene. In summer, while it can be hot during the day, the mountains can get cool in the evening and early morning and bathing under the stars or in the crispness of the fresh morning air is unbeatable.

Solitude in a hot spring can be nice, but when others are there it can also be a good place to strike up a conversation. It can be intimidating for both sides to kick off a dialogue with a naked, bathing stranger who may not speak your language. I always find it's nice to give a short polite greeting or nod if you enter the bath with others already there and you’ll get a sense of who wants to chat and who doesn’t. If you feel like a conversation then a short quip like ‘isn’t this spring water great’ can spark things off. Even if you don’t speak any Japanese you’ll often find people with good enough English for a casual chat. If you find someone who is familiar with the area I always like to ask if they can recommend other hot springs close by. It’s a great way to find places you may not have come across otherwise.

Whether it’s the raw, bathing experience or the people you meet, the culture of Kusatsu and onsen is great for breaking down barriers and getting back to nature.

My other articles on Kusatsu start here https://www.deepjapan.org/a/4349.

AndrewShuttleworth image

AndrewShuttleworth

United Kingdom

AndrewShuttleworth's other advice

The many different ways to get to Kusatsu images

The many different ways to get to Kusatsu

Kusatsu is less frequented by foreign visitors given that it doesn’t have a train station, never mind a bullet train stop. That isolation is one of the reasons Kusatsu has managed to maintain its spe…

The romantic side of Kusatsu images

The romantic side of Kusatsu

Kusatsu is a great town for any visitor and the hot springs are outstanding. But what many miss is the romantic charm. The strolling, laid back nature of the town brings with it quality time with…

There are lots of reason's Kusatsu is famous for hot springs images

There are lots of reason's Kusatsu is famous for hot springs

Although Japan is famous for hot springs, it’s easy to be tricked into visiting tourist traps where the water is recycled and chlorine added. This is something you definitely won't encounter in all o…

Kusatsu Onsen, one of Kanto, Japan’s less discovered gems images

Kusatsu Onsen, one of Kanto, Japan’s less discovered gems

I recently visited Kusatsu for Deep Japan with the goal of re-discovering the magic of this mountain town that is consistently ranked as one of Japan’s best hot spring resorts. It was my visit to the…

Awe-inspiring Views on the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route images

Awe-inspiring Views on the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

When people think of Japan they often think of the cities, temples and maybe hot springs, but 70% of Japan is mountainous. And like anything else in Japan that is worth a visit, the mountains can be …

You might also like

Why Do Japanese People Call Mt. Fuji, Mr. Fuji? images

Why Do Japanese People Call Mt. Fuji, Mr. Fuji?

If you wondered why Japanese people refer to Mt. Fuji as Mr. Fuji, you are not alone.When I first came to Japan, and actually until about two years ago, well okay, actually it still happens a lot…

 image

Difference of IKEBANA and Western floral arrangement? images

Difference of IKEBANA and Western floral arrangement?

When I traveled foreign countries, I found some different customs, cultures, and ideas. It is all new to me and leads me more eager to know its deep culture. I will be frequently asked the differ…

Ami image

Ami

Japanese sweets : “Tansan Senbei” images

Japanese sweets : “Tansan Senbei”

Thin and round carbonic acid rice cracker is mainly made of flour. They really melt in your mouth and taste slightly sweet. They are famous confections of Arima hot springs located in Hyogo prefectur…

OKAKI-sun image

OKAKI-sun

The interesting relationship between Japanese culture and sweet, delicious strawberries images

The interesting relationship between Japanese culture and sweet, delicious strawberries

Strawberries are one of the many fruits produced all over the world. Strawberries are also produced in Japan, and Japanese strawberries tend to be very sweet and it is possible to eat them raw. One s…

DeepJapan Editor image

DeepJapan Editor

"Little Forest" Shows you the Japan Heartland images

"Little Forest" Shows you the Japan Heartland

Thats right! I am not 12 years old. I actually have lived half a century as of this year.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_CUp9suEeoMaybe that is exactly why I love Pixar films that show the …

 image

The Food of Kusatsu Onsen images

The Food of Kusatsu Onsen

One the best ways to experience a town is through its food. When I travel, I love finding the diners, pubs, restaurants and cafés the locals choose to frequent, because that’s where I know I’ll get t…

Petra image

Petra