Manza Onsen is one of many in the mountains of Gunma. Photo: eikofroggy
travel

Gunma's onsen haven is the perfect bathing escape

5 Comments
By GaijinPot Travel

Less than two hours from the dazzling neon of Tokyo, the scenic mountains of Gunma Prefecture are practically overflowing with hot springs.

There’s Takaragawa onsen with its beer vending machines and riverside open-air baths which allow mixed-gender bathingKusatsu onsen spurts out around 4,000 liters of sulphuric spring water every minute. Sainokawara onsen has an enormous outdoor bath with space for 99 other people and Hoshi Chojukan is a remote inn deep in the mountains with secluded outdoor baths that you can have all to yourself.

Water, water everywhere

The best introduction to Gunma’s onsen is at Kusatsu which boasts the highest amount of hot spring water in the country. In the town center, the yubatake (hot water field) uses wooden troughs to cool down and distribute the hot water to the surrounding public baths and inns.

You can also witness the yumomi where local women stir the hot spring waters with large wooden paddles while dancing and singing traditional songs.

It’s important to be aware that some hot spring baths do not allow people with tattoos to enter. If this is strictly the case, there should be a sign on display in English that clarifies the establishment’s particular policy.Thankfully, the stigma against tattoos is slowly lifting and the government is actively discouraging onsen owners from discriminating against people with body art in the run up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Click here to read more.

© GaijinPot Travel

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5 Comments
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I hated Kusatsu when I went. I find it to be an awful place. The staff at all the establishments were rude. all of the venues were full; you had to stand and wait to find a place to sit. Super crowded... Absolutely AWFUL experience for my wife and I.

TheGUNMA GEM of Onsen that is actually almost next door to kusatsu and that not too many people know about is Shima Onsen in Nakanojo machi. The people there are SOOOOO much friendlier than the rude people of Kusatsu. Shima Onsen is a tiny hamlet literally BUILT INTO a mountain and the view is BREATHTAKING. Just walking around that town is beyond amazing after an onsen. It is nowhere near as touristy as Kusatsu, but it is a 1000 times better. There are tons of places to walk around in and it is not crowded at all. The shops, while are usually busy with tourists are not too busy to be helpful and friendly and you don't have to wait to be seated. There are gorgeous streams and rivers and you walk along the side of the mountain taking in nature in a way you never dreamed. Shima is just beyond amazing.

Shima O is a paradise- one of Gunma's best kept secrets. Forget Kusatsu. Shima Onsen is where you really want to go.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Aly thanks for your post. I'll look it up if Shinma is up to par with Kurokawa Onsen in Kumamoto. After my amazing experience there, I've been on the hunt for another great Onsen experience, unfortunately Kinosaki is quite not up to the same level. Hope Shinma is better.

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Mark, I can't comment as I have never been to Kumamoto. But shima will not disappoint. Its in Nakanojo Town in Gunma. But I had an awful experience in Kusatsu and would not recommend it to anyone. I'm sure you'll love SHIMA.

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I hated Kusatsu when I went. I find it to be an awful place. The staff at all the establishments were rude. all of the venues were full; you had to stand and wait to find a place to sit.

I have been more than once and found it very enjoyable. Sainokawara Rotemburo  is fantastic.

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I have been more than once and found it very enjoyable. Sainokawara Rotemburo is fantastic.

to each his own Nick. I'm not going again. But have at it. If it makes you feel good then do it

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