The Superb Yet Scalding Onsen in Kusatsu
Gozanoyu is one of the three large public onsen of Kusatsu, located near the Yubatake in the heart of the thermal resort. Its traditional wooden building, renovated in 2013, is one of the most beautiful constructions of the town. Its bath tubs are filled with a naturally acid water, rich in sulfur at a scorching temperature.
When in front the majestic Gozanoyu and its small sacred hot water basin to make a wish, one feels more like being in front of a luxury hotel 🏨 rather than at the entrance of a public bath. The construction of clear cedar wood is elegant, and it is topped by several small roofs reminding those of a temple while its large windows open on the Yubatake, the central area and symbol of Kusatsu.
A large and beautiful traditional building
Without further ado, let’s enter and discover the inside. Shoes must be taken off so as to not dirty the floor and respect the surrounding quietness. After the reception counter, one heads towards the appropriate space, the women’s bath or the men’s bath. The locker rooms are modern, large and entirely made of wood. There is a real harmony between the exterior and the interior of the building. Large baskets are provided to place the clothes and a small locker for the most precious belongings.
The bathing space is divided into two distinctive rooms with two large tubs each. These two rooms are laid out similarly, the only difference being the stone basin whereas the other three are in wood. The location of the women’s baths and the men’s baths change alternatively everyday so as everyone can enjoy the facility. On a side note, there is no outdoor basin, nor sauna in Gozanoyu.
Piping hot and acid natural waters
The establishment operates two natural hot springs with benefits for the skin and the muscles, named Ki no yu and Ishi no yu. These waters make the site specific as they are acid (a pH nearing 2), rich in minerals (especially in sulfur) and particularly hot, something to take into consideration when not a regular of the place. Trying to set a foot in the basin can be very difficult due to the water temperature, and some may even not be able to enter completely in the water or will only stay a few minutes. It is something to ponder before going to Gozanoyu.
Aside the baths, the facility includes:
- A nice and large resting room, with a tatami floor and benches along the windows overlooking the Yubatake plaza. It is a pleasant arrangement to rest for a while and enjoy the place or prepare the next moves of the day.
- The renting of elegant yukata 👘 to walk in town during a few hours, dressed in traditional Japanese clothes and have a souvenir photo session.
With its ideal location in the center of Kusatsu, the atmosphere and the surroundings make Gozanoyu very attractive. However, the limited number of basins as well as its very hot water, while it retains therapeutic properties, may disappoint some visitors. We therefore recommend trying this place while "onsen ♨️ hopping," without planning to stay too long.