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History of Kusatsu Onsen
There are many stories regarding the opening of a hot spring, and the beginning of Kusatsu Onsen is still not confirmed. The oldest evidence of its existence dates to 1472, and even then it was already very famous and popular as a spa to cure sickness.
Even in the Edo period (1603-1867) there were more than 60 onsen hotels in this area and more than 10,000 people would visit from all over Japan.
There is lots of literature and data which show many famous historical people visited Kusatsu onsen during its long history. Because of this, Japanese people have learned how much it has been loved and that it has been curing people for a long time.
Onsen water of Kusatsu
Kusatsu onsen is located at the foot of Mt. Kusatsu-Shirane. The onsen water is volcanic, where ground water in the mountain igetss mixed up with volcanic gas deep in the ground to become a hot spring. It takes a long time until that water comes to the onsen area, and on its journey it gains a lot of efficient ingredients.
The onsen water in Kusatsu is known for its very strong acidic water. It is said that a Japanese 1 yen coin will melt away within one week in the water!
This strong acid is the secret to why it is called “cure water” as even bacteria can’t survive in this water.
There are many benefits of this water, but the strongest effect is to cure skin problems.
Due to its strong anti-bacteria effect, acid water is sometimes called “beautiful skin water”.
Also, Kusatsu onsen is known by the amount of water that flows out.
The amount of discharge is the most in Japan: more than 36,000ℓ per minute!
Thanks to this rich amount of natural water, all the onsen in Kusatsu do not need to reuse water and instead can allow it to flow straight from the source.
When it comes to Kusatsu, this is tradition!
When we talk about Kusatsu, we cannot avoid “Yumomi”.
Have you ever heard of this word, Yumomi?
It is an old tradition in Kusatsu where a group of women mix the onsen water with wooden boards while singing “Kusatsu is a great onsen〜♪, you must visit once in a lifetime〜♪”, a traditional Kusatsu song. Do you know why they mix the water?
The source of this onsen is so hot that it is impossible to take as it is.
Adding cold water would help to lower the temperature, but then the mineral contents would be weakened.
Yumomi were created to lower the temperature without weakening the mineral contents. This is a famous custom at Kusatsu-onsen and, these days, tourists can join in on the experience, too.
How to enjoy Kusatsu!
The Symbol of Kusatsu, Yubatake
The symbol of Kusatsu is this Yubatake located in the center of Onsen town.
In English, yubatake means a “hot spring field.” Just as you harvest rice from a field, you “harvest” flowers of sulfur from this Yubatake.
About 4,000ℓ of onsen water spring out per minute and this area is surrounded by clouds of steam.
There are walking paths and a park around here which many visitors enjoy walking around after taking a bath.
Yumomi chan is the mascot character of Kusatsu onsen and also a sightseeing ambassador.
If you are lucky you might be able to see her!
Let’s experience Yumomi!
You can experience Yumomi at “Netsu no Yu” near Yubatake.
Throughout all of Japan, this unique tradition can only be experienced in Kusatsu, so it must be a good memory.
Visiting a public hot spring is one of life’s little joys.
You can see many public hot springs when you walk around the Kusatsu onsen area. There are 18 public hot spring in Kusatsu, a number much greater than other famous onsen areas.
While onsen water may look the same, in actuality there are slight differences such as temperature, color, or the amount of acid or sulfur.
You can enjoy multiple public hot spring in a day! Let’s go onsen hopping!