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    • Day 32


      December 30, 2022 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ -2 °C

      While wandering through kusatsu I mostly just picked a direction and walked to see where I could end up. The first thing which took my attention was the temple on the hill so I headed up that way. It was flurries at the time which made it feel quite magical. I got myself a little custard man and used one of the hot foot baths, the whole place reminded me a lot of Rotorua with the sulphur smell.
      I went to see a show which demonstrated how they cooled down the water without dilution traditionally, there was a story about how many famous people have come to this town and many emperors obtained the water from here for their private baths to relieve ailments.
      The central part of town itself had a European influence to it and there were lots of nice smelling restaurants as I walked past but as my meals were being provided by the hotel I didn't get to try any of them.
      In the morning I decided to walk down the hill and came across the onsen I missed going to, I was tempted but at that point had done 5 onsens in the last 24 hours anyway so I really didn't need it.
      I got myself some negima Yakitori and garlic, was a little hard with translation with him but I at least had a little bite to eat.
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    • Day 33

      Kusatsu Tropical Wonderland

      December 31, 2022 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 0 °C

      I was wandering through Kusatsu talking to Mum and Dad when he said I was close to somewhere which had Capybaras and said I should visit so I popped in for a look. They had a fair lot of animals, started with the bugs and hand cleaning fish, then headed down to a dome structure which had the rest of the animals. The home itself looked very dirty and rusting to the point it might break but maybe that was the dilapidated tropical look???
      I walked down and watched the monkeys for a little bit but these ones were not as calm as the snow monkey forest ones.
      When you first walked in there were crocodiles and alligators in tiny pens so they didn't move much. The owls were cute and the tarantula was hanging out in the middle section with a whole bunch of lizards and frogs. Then there were lots of snakes with money that had been left behind by people, I assume it was a good luck thing but found it interesting that no-one stole the money as it was just sitting there.
      I fed the Capybaras, there were probably 10 of them and one had got into the rabbit pen and was stealing their food. A sloth was in the corner just sleeping under the heat lamp.
      As I walked around the corner there were some monkeys who were very cute and interested in the humans. I stayed with the pigmy marmosets for a while as they made a really nice bird chirping call.
      I saw the bat hanging out and he tried to bite me through the cage.
      They then had some baby chickens, hamsters and micro pigs you could play with. The micro pigs were very skittish though.
      I went outside and said hello to the Lama who seemed unbothered by the snow.
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    • Day 6

      Onsen Town Kusatsu

      October 29, 2019 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 7 °C

      Heute ging es von Ueno (Tokyo) nach Kusatsu ins Landesinnere. Das erste, was auffällt ist, dass sich hier das Laub schon mehr gefärbt hat als in Tokyo.
      Kusatsu liegt ein wenig in den Bergen, das auch beim Aussteigen aufgefallen ist, da hier kühle 12°C herrschen, anstelle der den angenehmen 20°C in Tokyo.
      Kusatsu hat sehr viele Onsen, sowohl öffentliche als auch private. Mein Hotel - besser gesagt Ryokan - hat auch einige private Onsen (innen und außen), welche ich direkt vor dem Abendessen noch ausprobiert habe. Jedoch lässt es sich dort aufgrund der Temperaturen nicht lange aushalten.
      Nach dem Abendessen in einem kleinen Restaurant (lecker Soba Nudeln), bin ich noch ein bisschen durch den Ort geschländert. Leider waren zu dieser Uhrzeit die meisten Geschäfte schon zu.
      In dem ganzen Ort richt es nach Eiern, aufgrund des Schwefels im Wasser. Allerdings nicht stark und man gewöhnt sich sehr schnell dran.
      In der Ortsmitte gibt es eine Konstruktion mit der man früher das heiße Wasser auf die gewünschte Temperatur abgekühlt hat. Zur Abendzeit ist diese schön beleuchtet, was natürlich viele Besucher anzieht.
      Schön beleuchtet war auch der Park Richtung Berg, entlang des kleinen Baches mit warmen Wasser, was sehr angenehm bei diesen Temperaturen ist.

      Am zweiten Tag hat es leider mittags geregnet, daher war ich in einem öffentlichen Onsen.
      Als ich aus dem Onsen raus kam, hat es aufgehört zu regnen und ich konnte noch etwas den Ort bei Tag erkunden.
      Nach dem Abendessen gab es natürlich noch ein zweites Bad im Ryokan.
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    • Day 32

      Kusatsu Onsen Daitokan

      December 30, 2022 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ -3 °C

      I booked myself a Ryokan for one night I had seen lots of them on YouTube and wanted to experience it for myself, seeing as I also wanted to visit this onsen town I figured I would book the main onsen Ryokan. The room itself is nice enough and similar to ones I had seen but I'll be honest, for the price I paid I was expecting slightly more. I thought dinner would be in my room not a smorgasbord style. Albeit the smorgasbord was massive with multiple meet sections, soups, broths, stews, sushi, fish cooked in every manor, fruit, bread, desert, and they even had a beer machine which poured a beer on an angle for you and then topped it off with foam. It was $16 for all you can drink in 90 mins.
      I figured while doing onsens I would visit all I could in the area. There are 4 main ones and the one which was closing first I headed to, it was called Sainokawara open air onsen. It happened to be a mixed night tonight so it got quite busy and everyone had to wear the bathing suit provided. It only had one large bath for everyone and then I noticed a sauna as I was leaving but I had missed it earlier. It was nice in the open air with the snow flurries falling still but it felt a bit basic to me.
      The next one I tried was Gozanoyu. This was in a really nice looking wooden building and was listed as being a very traditional bathhouse. When I got in they only had one big bath area sectioned into 4 sorta pools by beams of wood. It was really hot and you could hear the woman's side over the wall in the middle. I was expecting something more like a snow section or at least a cold pool and sauna but maybe I've become spoiled. The water itself must have been high in calcium as you could feel it and the ground was stained and slippery from the minerals.
      I wasn't able to make it to the third external one but my hotel one allows me there till midnight so left that till last.
      The hotel one had 2 pools, one inside and one outside. While I was using the outside one it had dropped to -5° outside so you felt the chill when getting in and out of the water, aparently will drop to -6 overnight.
      One of the hotel pools had a ph of 1.6 which seemed very highly acidic but that sadly was in the partner onsen. Not sure how to get to it and I think it might only be open at night.
      I did consider through the night getting another futon to sleep on but it was not that bad, better than the bed in the hostel I stayed at.
      I slept in, got breakfast and then went downstairs for another onsen, they had swapped the guys and girls which was good as this one had an outside area which had snow in it so I went and put my feet in the snow to cool them after the onsen.
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    • Day 16

      Endlose Serpentinen runter nach Kusatsu

      May 4, 2023 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

      Die Abfahrt nach Kusatsu ist der Hammer, so viele endlose Haarnadelkurven, wir sausen wie im Rausch da runter, macht das Spaß- knapp 19 km nur bergab....
      In Kusatsu gehen wir in eine sehr schönen Onsen (Open Air) und wandeln danach durch die Stadt, probieren von den vielen Ständen, bekommen im heißen Erddampf gegarte Dumplings mit süßer Bohnenpaste geschenkt und essen in einem Restaurant lecker zu Abend. Auf einem zentralen Platz ist viel los, hier trifft man sich. In der Mitte befindet sich eine riesige heiße Schwefelquelle.
      Wie beenden den Abend in einer Bar und werden nachher unser Zelt im Stadtpark aufstellen. Ein erneut genialer Tag geht zu Ende.
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    • Day 22

      Week-end in Gunma prefecture (4/4)

      June 4, 2022 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

      Arrivée à 21h à Kusatsu Onsen, le village de sources chaudes. Notre logement était à quelques minutes de Yubatake, le coeur du village, qui fume littéralement, car l'eau chaude est en abondance à cet endroit.

      Les onsens (sources chaudes) et sentos (bains publics) sont situés à divers endroits dans le village, chacun avec ses horaires et tarifs.

      Concernant les bains au Japon, il y a quelques règles de conduite à respecter. Déjà, on se baigne entièrement nu. Pas de serviette, maillot de bain ou autre artifice. Souvent, il y a un espace homme (en bleu) et un espace femme (rouge), mais cela arrive que le bain soit mixte.

      On se lave soigneusement avant d'entrer dans le bain, pour ne pas salir l'eau, et on pose sa serviette à côté du bain ou posé sur la tête : celle-ci ne doit jamais être dans l'eau du bain.

      Comme nous étions arrivés tard, les onsens étaient fermés, donc nous avons voulu tester un sento, dont la particularité est d'être ouvert même très tard, parfois gratuit (il faut apporter serviette et savon) mais beaucoup plus rustique.

      Attention, avoir un tatouage peut poser problème pour les onsens. Même si cela commence à changer, les tatouages sont parfois refusés. Historiquement les yakuzas, arborant d'énormes tatouages sur le torse, ont été bannis de ces établissements, et c'est donc pour cela que les tatouages y sont interdits. En revanche, il est tout à fait possible d'entrer dans un sento avec un tatouage.

      Et c'est justement ce que nous avons constaté: le seul homme présent dans le bain avait un énorme tatouage, sur tout le dos et les bras. Mis à part ça, il était surtout là pour profiter du bain, et n'était absolument pas hostile.

      Après le bain, nous avons fait un tour pour admirer Yubatake. De nuit, le spectacle est magnifique : toute la zone est entouré de vapeur, et les lumières ajoutent un côté magique au spectacle. Sur place, on peut se baigner dans un Ashiyu, bain de pieds gratuit permettant de se détendre après une grosse journée.

      Chose surprenante, l'odeur de souffre très forte qui se dégage de l'eau. Pour être honnête, porter un masque est assez pénible dans cette zone, car l'odeur y est en quelque sorte emprisonnée 😫

      Le lendemain, réveil à 7h pour faire les trois onsens principaux dès l'heure d'ouverture 😉

      Nous avons fait le onsen Sainokawara, un grand bain en extérieur, suivi du Goza-no-yu, qui était partiellement en rénovation, mais désert (on a pu prendre une photo), et enfin le Ohtaki-no-yu, composé de nombreux bains en intérieur et en extérieur.

      C'était super relaxant de faire tous ces bains, l'eau est chaude, mais on peut sortir du bain et se rafraîchir avant d'y retourner ☺️

      Enfin, nous avons fini notre visite en se baladant dans le village, avant de rentrer à Tokyo.

      We arrived at 9PM at Kusatsu Onsen, the hotspring resort village. Our accomodation was only a few minutes from Yubatake, the core of the village, litteraly smoking, because of the hot water everywhere in the area.

      Onsens (hotspring) et sentos (public baths) are located in various areas in the village, each with its own hours and fees.

      Bathing in Japan is subject to some rules to follow. First, you bath naked. No towel, no bathing suit or anything to hide nudity. Usually, there is a men (blue) and a women (red) areas, but sometimes bath is shared.

      Before entering the bath, you wash your body in order to avoid getting the water of the bath dirty, then you put your towel aside or on your head: it should never be in contact with the water of the bath.

      As we arrived quite late, the onsens were closed, so we wanted to test a sento instead. The particularity of a sento is to be open quite late, sometimes free (you need to bring towel and soap) but they are much more basic.

      Be careful, having a tattoo can be an issue for onsens. Even if it is currently changing, tattoos owner are sometimes not allowed inside onsens. Historically, the yakuzas have huge tattoos all over their torso and arms, and are banned from onsens. That's why tattoos are not allowed there. On the contrary, you can totally enter in sento if you have tattoos.

      And it is indeed what we saw : a single man with huge tattoos on the torso and arms was inside the bath when we arrived. But he was just enjoying the bath, not hostile at all.

      After bath, we walked a bit inside Yubatake area. In the night, it is a beautiful scenery : the whole area is covered with steam, and the lights add a magical feeling to it. In the area, you can enjoy Ashiyu, it is a free footbath where you can relax after a rough day.

      Surprisingly, the smell of sulfur emanating from the water is really strong. To be honnest, wearing a mask is a bit painful here, as the smell is kind of trapped inside it 😫

      The day after, waking up at 7AM, to do the main three onsens right at the opening hour 😉

      We did Sainokawara onsen, a big bath in an opening area, followed by Goza-no-yu onsen, which was partially under renovation but desert (we could take a picture there) and finally Ohtaki-no-yu onsen, composed of multiple bath, both inside and outside.

      It was super relaxing to do all these baths, the water is hot, but you can get out to cool down a bit and re-enter once you fill better ☺️

      We finished the visit by exploring the village, before heading back to Tokyo.
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    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Kusatsu, Kusacu, 草津, 구사쓰 정, Кусацу, 草津町

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