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Takayu Onsen

With more water flowing from its springs than anywhere else in Japan (and arguably more history along its streets) Kusatsu Onsen is an essential stop for fans of hot springs.

This onsen resort is right up there among the ranks of the most famous in the country. It has drawn in visitors for centuries, and has long been said to have restorative powers which can cure almost any ailment. Although these healing powers are unproven, its relaxation powers are undeniable!

At an altitude of 1200 meters above sea level, nestled among the mountains of Gunma, here you’ll find perfect weather for taking a dip in a calming hot bath. There are also plenty of other great things to do in the area, and there’s no better feeling than resting your aching muscles in a hot spring after a long day of hiking or skiing.

At the center of town, you’ll find the “yubatake,” an old traditional structure which is used to cool down the waters for bathing. This makes for a quaint and traditional atmosphere which can’t be imitated by resorts which don’t have the sheer heritage of Kusatsu. History flows through this place in gallons, just like the waters which spring up from beneath its rocks at a higher volume than anywhere else in Japan.

There are ten different individual springs around the town which feed pure, unfiltered baths around the area. This water has an opaque, blush quality on account of the hydrogen sulfide which it gathers from the volcanic rocks beneath the mountain surface. It’s thought that such mineral-rich water has healing properties, in this case for high rheumatism or high blood pressure. Guests in days of old would stay for up to ten days of leisurely soaking, in order to get the most benefit.

You won’t be able to enter all of the area’s baths, because some hotels reserve theirs for staying guests only. However, if you’re just popping up for the day, there are plenty of options for short-time visitors. The most popular is Tamagoyu, which has gender-segregated baths, although the public bathhouse offers an even cheaper option.

To get here, jump on a bus direct from Fukushima Station. It costs just 840 yen one way, and takes around 30 minutes.

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