Updated: September 04, 2019
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How to enjoy Ikaho Onsen, the famous hotspring area of Gunma

Gunma

Gunma has some pretty outstanding hot springs and Ikaho Onsen is surely an area that is worth considering if you're looking to get some seriously relaxing onsen time! Here some information about the area.

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Ikaho Onsen

gunma_prefecture
Gunma prefecture in dark green; Kanto region in light green
Ikaho Onsen is an area of Shibukawa City in the prefecture of Gunma, located on the western limit of the vast Kanto plain that encompasses the greater Tokyo metropolitan area.

Squeezed between a mountain chain to the west and the Kanto plain to the east, it's no coincidence that Gunma has some of the countries best hot springs!

And among the countless great hot spring resort towns in Japan, Ikaho Onsen stands out as one of the best and most emblematic of Gunma. Here's why.

Unique hot spring water that virtually only exists in this area of Japan

foot_bath
Footbath in Ikaho Onsen
Why the water is so unique has a lot to do with its high acidity level with a pH of around 2. That acidity is actually high enough to irritate the skin if you bathe too long, so you have to be careful not to stay too long in the water and to take a shower after coming out.

Benefits of high acidity in onsen water

That being said, if you bathe for the right amount of time, the water is likely to have great benefits for your skin! Because it acts as a potent disinfectant, it's said to be good to combat acne, athletes foot, and psoriasis for instance.

The effects of the onsen water should be indicated at the place you choose to go to. If you can't find the information, just ask the staff and they should tell you what it's good for and how long you should be bathing.

Recommended Inn

Ikaho Onsen Yokotetan

Ikaho Onsen Yokotetan is a 4-star hotel with beautiful Japanese-style tatami rooms (western-style rooms are also available if that's what you want), three different onsen rooms, and gorgeous Japanese course meals available at the restaurant. It's overall an excellent place to stay yet the price is around average so you do get great value for your money here. It costs around ¥20,000 per person per night.
This is an example of one seasonal Gunma dish they serve

Things to do in the area

Take a stroll in the 'stone stairs town'

stone_stairs
Ikaho Onsen is known as the 'Ishidangai' or stone steps town in English. From the bottom of the steps to the highest point in town, there are a total of 365 steps. If you get tired climbing the steps, you can always take a wrest at one of the town's many hot spring footbaths or at some nice sweets or tea house along the way.

Ikaho Shrine

ikaho_shrine
Your reward for climbing all those steps is that you'll reach the Ikaho Shrine of the Shinto religion. Although very small, it has been an important place of worship for centuries. You can buy the shrine's unique charm as a souvenir. A good idea might be to go there when the sun is about to set. Because it's located on the highest point of Ikaho Onsen, you get particularly beautiful sunset views from there.

Japanese sweets near the shrine

Once you made it to the shrine, you should reward yourself with these popular freshly made sweet bean buns. They're made a place called Shogetsudo. Although it's a small shop, you're unlikely to miss it as there is nearly always a line to get into it.

Address: 9 Ikahomachi Ikaho Shibukawa-shi Gunma
Name: Shogetsudo (勝月堂)

Kajika bridge

kajika_bridge
Another emblem of the area is the arch bridge Kajika. The sight is particularly beautiful in the fall when the trees turn into bright red colours, just like the colour of the bridge itself.

Green Bokujo

green_bokujo
If you have kids, Green Bokujo is a nice place to visit in the area. It's like a huge petting zoo with farm animals. There are some shows too, including the popular sheepdog show. They serve delish ice cream made on-site too. Be aware though that you have to pay for every activity within the park.

Location: 2844-1 Kanai, Shibukawa, Gunma
Hours: 9AM - 4PM
Price: ¥1,200 for adults, ¥600 for children 12 and under
tabikamome
Japanese food culture enthusiast. Love to explore new areas and discover local specialties.

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