Nestled close to Mount Shirane, at an altitude of 1200 meters, is the town of Kusatsu in Gunma prefecture, a 3-hour drive from Tokyo. Kusatsu has drawn visitors for centuries; at its center is the yubatake, a field where natural hot spring water goes through different levels in green and blue pools, giving the town a strong egg-like sulfur scent.
We stayed at the ryokan Kusatsu Naraya, where they offer a kaiseki style dinner.
If you want to eat out, the town speciality is definitely soba with maitake mushroom tempura. You'll find many spots offering this dish, we enjoyed ours at Teuchi Soba Aoyama.
While in Kusatsu, we recommend taking a walk in Sainokawara park where you can find a huge outdoor bath. As another experience with hot springs, we like the Otakinoyu, a bathhouse providing a wide range of indoor and outdoor baths from cool to hot waters so you can acclimatize to your liking.
Bathe in the hot springs and let its nourishing ingredients penetrate the body. By warming the body in onsen, blood circulation is improved and metabolism increases. Even in Japan's hot summers, a dip in the onsen is customary because locals know by instinct the utility of its soothing thermal effect.
It's a wonderful way to change our environment and recharge body and mind. If you have the chance, a visit to this hidden gem is highly recommended.