Strolling Through Sainokawara Park in Kusatsu

Kusatsu Onsen is a small town tucked away in the mountains. Within a few blocks of downtown, you can end up surrounded by nature. This is best on display at Sainokawara Park, home to one of Kusatsu’s most popular open-air baths.

This picturesque park, which showcases the best blossoms and foliage of each season, is just a short walk from the Yubatake -- simply follow the signs along Sainokawara Street and you’ll journey along a cobblestone road lined with shops selling crafts and sweets as well as restaurants until you end up at the park.

Admission to the grounds is free and upon entering, you’re greeted by the sounds of the rushing water. Feel free to bend down and dip your fingers into the turquoise water and feel its natural warmth. As you make your way up the hill on the winding path, pass a shrine and then the foot bath comes into view. Taking a break here is a welcome respite for tired feet, surrounded by beautiful scenery. I could only imagine how tranquil it must be in the colder months, the steam rising from the water as snow blankets the trees and ground.

The open-air bath at Sainokawara Park is 500 square meters in size and provides panoramic views of the landscape as you enjoy a soak. For 600 yen, adults can enjoy a dip in the onsen and for 300, children may enter.

There is one thing to keep in mind about this beautiful place during your visit -- a legend, in fact. It’s said a demon resides within Sainokawara Park, which is why guests should remain quiet while enjoying its grounds, to avoid stirring it. Perhaps that was why it was so peaceful . . .

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