Lying two and a half hours up in the Japan Alps north of Tokyo, Kusatsu is one of Japan’s most well-known hot spring resorts, with its iconic open-cast yubatake hot water spring at the centre of town. The waters are pumped to all thirteen public baths and dozens of ryokan – Japanese-style spa hotels – in the town. It is customary to change into the ‘yukata’ robe and traditional ‘geta’ shoes provided at the accommodation, and take a leisurely stroll around the yubatake in the evening.
Just a little further up into the Japanese Alps lies Mt Shirane and the azure blue of Japan’s highest crater lake, reached by cable car. During autumn, driving the ‘romantic road’ leading from Nikko via Kusatsu to Karuizawa is one of the best ways to catch Japan’s brilliant autumn leaves.