Known as one of the most famous onsen towns in Japan, Kusatsu in Gunma has a free-flowing hot spring which gushes out 32,300 liters of onsen water per day. The natural waters have been said to cure all ailments bar love sickness and Kusatsu has been ranked as the number 1 onsen in Japan for the last 10 years.
With a plethora of bathing options across the town in ryokans and local bath houses, it can be difficult to know where to take a dip. But one of the best places to start with is Otaki no Yu.
The facility is located just a short walk away from Yubatake, the center of Kusatsu where the natural waters can be seen gushing out from the earth. Most hotels will run shuttle buses to Yubatake, so even if you are not staying right in the center, Otaki no Yu is easily accessible.
As with most buildings in Kusatsu, the architecture is in the traditional wooden Japanese style and you will feel like you have been transported back to the Edo era when the samurai undoubtedly soaked in similar facilities after a hard day of sword fighting.
Inside unlike some of Kusatsu’s more basic options, there is a good number of showers complete with shampoo, conditioner, and body soap. After showering, you can take a dip in one of the large indoor baths whilst there is a cold bath to cool down. There is also a dry sauna inside. A large stone bath with a free-flowing waterfall can be found in the outside area. The baths wind down stairs and at the foot of the outdoor area is a small wooden bath house. In this steamy wooden building, time is forgotten and you can really experience old Japan.
The baths here are of different, rising temperatures, a technique of bathing known as “awase yu” where bathers go from the lowest temperature bath of 38 degrees Celsius, working up to the hottest which stands at around 46 degrees Celsius. The high acidity of the water allows you to stay in this extreme heat a little longer than you could stand in normal water of this temperature, but you would be wise to remember where the cold bath is located in the main building so you can quickly cool down afterward.
Aside from the extensive bathing facilities, there is a large restaurant and a rest area complete with massage chairs for further relaxation. Entry costs 900 yen for adults and 400 yen for children and the facility is open all year-round. So come and relax at Otaki no Yu now!
Otaki no Yu’s Website *Japanese only