Kusatsu Onsen: A Guide to Kusatsu's Free Hot Springs - Vikingess Voyages

Friday, December 23, 2016

Kusatsu Onsen: A Guide to Kusatsu's Free Hot Springs

The center of Kusatsu Onsen - Yubatake
Kusatsu Onsen is, as the name suggests, a hot spring resort area known for its many hot springs - onsen. Here you can find a wide range of small bathhouses open to the public. The temperature of these baths vary from almost lukewarm to boiling hot, and one of the pleasures of visiting this area is to walk around to different bathhouses and test them all. But going from bathhouse to bathhouse can be an expensive experience, as most of the bathhouses charge an entry fee of around 500 yen. There are also some bathhouses that can be entered for free but most of them are only available for Kusatsu citizens, so in this blogpost I'll introduce 3 bathhouses in Kusatsu Onsen that any visitor can enter free of charge

Shirohata no Yu (白旗の湯)

Opening Hours: 5:00~23:00
This bathhouse is situated in the heart of Kusatsu, right next to the Netsu no Yu (熱乃湯) building where you can experience a traditional yumomi performance. The bath holds a pH level of pH2.1 and the water temperature is at around 45℃. This is one of the hottest baths in Kusatsu, and I personally didn't last more than around 10 seconds in the water. On the other hand the perfect location makes it extremely popular among guests, so it might be a good thing that the nearly boiling water speeds up the rotation of guests.
Inside Shirohata no Yu. Picture by antoi.net

Chiyo no Yu (千代の湯)

Opening Hours: 9:00~17:00
Chiyo no Yu is the smallest among the 3 free bathhouses. It is situated around a minute's walk from the Yubatake, and almost right next to the ryokan we stayed at, Nisshinkan. This was the only bathhouse where we got to have the whole bath to ourself, at least for a little while, so I could snap some photos of the inside! Among the 3 baths we went to this was the one that had the lowest temperature, which for me was perfect as I could really relax and not feel like I was burning up like I did particularly at the previous one..

The entrance to the women's bath

As you can see, and which is also the case for all the other public bathhouses as well, there is no locker available inside the bathhouse. Just a small space for you to leave your clothes. My advice would be to bring as little as possible - preferably no valuables - when you go out on your onsen meguri (温泉めぐり - round of hot spring exploration). Although Japan probably is just about the safest place to leave valuables lying around you might not want to take any unnecessary risks.

Although it seems very small this bath can fit 6 people, believe it or not. On the other hand if you're lucky there's nobody there and you get it to yourself like we did.

A small fountain outside of Chiyo no Yu

Jizo no Yu (地蔵の湯)

Opening Hours: 8:00~22:00
Jizo no Yu is situated just a 2-minutes walk from the Yubatake in the center of Kusatsu. This bath was the biggest among the 3 baths we went to, and the temperature was somewhere around 42℃. I didn't have the chance to get any photos from the inside as there constantly were other guests there, but the room combined the changing area and the hot spring bath in one large area.
Entrance to the women's bath
Inside Jizo no Yu. Picture by antoi.net
Outside the entrance to the bathhouse there is also a free ashinoyu (足の湯) foot-bath if you just want to soak your feet.
The ashinoyu with Jizo no Yu in the background
Testing the temperature of the ashinoyu

The center of Kusatsu - Yubatake
As most of the onsen hot springs hold really high temperatures it was perfect to go from bath to bath. We would spend around 30 minutes in each bath before leaving for the next one, and thus got to really enjoy the atmosphere of the onsen resort area while we did our little trip around town. For us the 3 free onsen was just enough for the first day, and for the second day we chose to visit the Sai no Kawara outdoor hot spring (西の河原露天風呂) which you can read more about here.

*Note that all of the baths in this post are separated into a female and a male bath. Please make sure you don't mistakenly enter the wrong one!

Thank you for reading! Please feel free to leave any comments or questions below

Basic information

  • Bathhouses:
  •  ① Shirohata no Yu (白旗の湯)
     ② Chiyo no Yu (千代の湯)
     ③ Jizo no Yu (地蔵の湯)
  • Locations: In the center of Kusatsu near the Yubatake field

Related blogposts

Recommended Hotels in Kusatsu

Kusatsu Onsen Daitokan
Kusatsu Onsen Daitokan
Kusatsu Onsen Nisshinkan
Kusatsu Onsen Nisshinkan
★★★  → review 
Ryokan Naraya
Ryokan Naraya
Yubatake Souan Hotel
Yubatake Souan Hotel

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About Anette
Anette came to Japan as an exchange student in 2010, met the love of her life and got stuck. From her base in Tokyo she writes about her experiences as a full-time worker in Tokyo and about her travels in Japan and abroad. She's a free-spirited adventurer who enjoys both the great outdoors and her urban lifestyle.

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About Me

Adventures ofAnette

A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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