Kusatsu Onsen is a ski and snowboard resort located in the western region of Gunma Prefecture close to the border with Nagano Prefecture. This resort used to be known as ‘Kusatsu Kokusai’ – it officially changed the name to ‘Kusatsu Onsen’ in April 2018.
This ski resort dates right back to 1914. The resort has two main distinct areas at either end of a long and narrow shape. There is a connecting course and the longest possible run used to be a full 8km. However...
Nature has forced some rather large changes to Kusatsu for the 2018-2019 season. A nearby volcanic eruption on the morning of 23rd January 2018 very sadly cost a life and caused some injuries. It also caused some damage to the gondola. Said gondola and the courses that it serviced are no longer part of the ski resort, making the top area considerably smaller than it used to be. The previous top area now being closed means that the maximum elevation of the resort is down from 2171m to 1600m; and vertical is down to 355m. Courses officially classified as ‘beginner’ courses increase from 30% to 50% (with intermediate courses reduced from 50% to 30%). And there will now be 2 quad lifts and 6 pair lifts operating. With more of Route 292 (up to the Gondola) now closed in winter, a new course has actually appeared. The resort has cunningly named the new course 'Route 292'.
Kusatsu town is a popular onsen hot spring resort throughout the year. The main town area of Kusatsu is a few kilometres from the ski resort. Kusatsu Kokusai is geographically very close to the ski resorts in Shiga Kogen, but the section of Route 292 that connects the two areas is closed during the winter months and so it is not possible to get between the two in winter without an unauthorized hike.
Gunma Prefecture is located in the north west area of Kanto region on the main island of Honshu and shares borders with Niigata Prefecture to the north and Nagano Prefecture to the west. There are over 20 ski and snowboard resorts in Gunma Prefecture and they are mainly concentrated in the northern regions of Minakami and Katashina and the western region of the Prefecture.
Ski and snowboard lessons are available at Kusatsu Onsen.
Ski and snowboard equipment rental is available. Ski and snowboard wear rental is also available.
The 'Kids Park' is located at the base of the resort and open from 9:00am until 4:00pm. The entry charge is 1,000 yen. An accompanying adult can enter for free. As well as a snow escalator there is a sledging area, an area for playing in the snow, a beginners run and snow racers.
A 'Kids Room' child care service for children ages 1-6 years is also available on the 2nd Floor of the main ticket centre. Reservations are required and 1 hour costs 1,000 yen.
There is also a free rest room for young children.
There are no specific 'Snow Park' areas, but a few snow shoe courses (both 1.5km in length).
Kusatsu Onsen Season & Opening Times
Typical season is from Mid December until Late March
Weekends and holidays
Normally open from 8:30am until 5:00pm
Normally open from 8:30am until 5:00pm
'Nighta' (night skiing)
Weekends and holidays
Kusatsu Onsen is normally open during the daytime from 8:30am until 5:00pm during the daytime.
Nighta is from 5:00pm until 9:00pm on the following dates:
- Every Saturday between 29th December 2018 until 23rd March 2019 - 30th December 2018 until 4th January 2019 - 13th January 2019 - 10th February 2019
On the first and third Saturday of the month in January, February, March --- nighta is available at the special rate of just 500 yen.
Kusatsu Onsen Lift Ticket Charges
4 years to Elementary School age
60 years & over
1 Lift Coupon
11 Lift Coupons
A Family ticket for 1 adult and 1 child is 6,400 yen. Add 3,800 yen for an additional adult and 2,800 yen for an additional child.
A Kids ticket is available that includes a 1 day ticket, entrance to the Kids Park and... ice cream. Available for pre-school children (4-6). (It's not fair!!!)
Getting to Kusatsu Onsen
By public transport
46.3km from Karuizawa Station on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line
14.3km from Naganohara Kusatsuguchi Station on the Agatsuma line
46.3km from Karuizawa Station on the Shinano Tetsudo Line
The closest train station is Naganohara Kusatsuguchi on the Agatsuma local line. Kusatsu Kokusai is just over 14km from the station.
Karuizawa Station on the Hokuriku Shinkansen and Shinano Tetsudo lines is just over 45km to the south of Kusatsu.
There is a bus service between Naganohara Kusatsuguchi Station and Kusatsu Onsen Bus Terminal.
A free shuttle bus operates between the Kusatsu Onsen Bus Terminal and the ski resort.
56.7km from the Usui Karuizawa IC on the Joshinetsu Expressway
57.6km from the Shibukawa Ikaho IC on the Kanetsu Expressway
63km from the Numata IC on the Kanetsu Expressway
Nearest national route: Route 292 (0.1km away)
Kusatsu Onsen can be approached from the east (Kanetsu Expressway) and from the south (Joshinetsu Expressway).
Unlike some ski resort regions of Japan, you can approach Kusatsu Onsen resort on Route 292 without really encountering much snow on or by the side of the roads until the very last part of the journey. Having said that, it is best to be prepared. As you approach the town area, there is a section of 'musical road'.... drive at a constant 40kmh to be entertained by your tyres going over the specially altered road surface.
From the Shibukawa Ikaho IC exit of the Kanetsu Expressway, turn left to head north on Route 17. Continue on Route 17 for about 4.5km until reaching the turn off for Route 353. Kusatsu is mentioned on the signpost. Turn left here onto Route 353 and continue on that road for a further 19km into Nakanojo. On reaching Route 145, turn left and keep following the signs towards Kusatsu. Continue on Route 145 for around 26km into Naganohara. Go straight on - using Route 292 - up to Kusatsu.
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