Kusatsu-machi, Japan – compilation
Yubatake: “Interesting and smelly”
The Yubatake is quite an impressive hot water field right in the middle of Kusatsu. Lots of hot water and H2S right there for everyone to enjoy. It is possible to “enjoy” the amenity from a coffee shop just a few feet away! The water flows through a complex wooden construction and is focused in a small waterfall. Lots of good travel snaps are available and the surrounding streets are filled with innumerable tourist shops selling the same old unidentifiable Japanese tourist junk.
Kusatsu International Ski Place: “Grand and high”
Visiting outside the snow season it is difficult to get a full picture. But the Ski Place is impressive and has all the facilities. The drive up was the “high” point for us.
Mt Shirane: “Big hill! Whoops big active volcano”
The drive up to and around Mt Shirane on a wonderful clear day is just spectacular. During our visit an exclusion zone had been declared in the vicinity of the crater lake unfortunately/fortunately. But from a number of angles it was possible to get an impression of the forces just a little way beneath us.
Maybe as a consequence of the nearby eruption at Ontake, or because there indeed were increased risk measurements here, the actual walk to the lake was closed. Fair enough. The signs on the surrounding countryside clearly indicated that we were lucky to see what was on offer without putting ourselves at further risk.
An exclusion zone was in place when we visited, clearly indicating the risk and danger here. Actually the local countryside illustrated that the danger was ever present.
Sainokawara Park: “Crowded and run down”
A bit like the rest of town, this park is rather run down and it was crowded and a little chaotic when we visited. Many hotels around town will have better baths and the hot water springs aren’t that exiting.
Hotel Village: “Tired and jaded, but not uncomfortable in Kusatsu”
Kusatsu was pretty heavily booked when we checked the town out. Not a lot of choice and some of the remaining alternatives were stratospherically expensive. So the Nakazawa Village seemed a useful compromise. The place is labeled “resort” which means that it possesses a rather lot of the exuberant excesses one stumbles upon in the strangest places in Japan. Mini golf, bowling alley, amusement arcade, high tech obstacle course, bath house – you name it, they’ve got it. And the standard rooms are quite large and well furnished. Sleep comfort is good, the included breakfast is generous, but the place has a jaded and tired feel around every corner, just like many of the guests (yours truly included!). Overall, not a bad option, but don’t expect too much.
Room Tip: Upgrade to one of the newer buildings