Be utterly pampered at Gunma’s premier resorts
Last updated: July 29, 2021
Gunma has been a luxurious escape for Tokyoites for hundreds of years, and every corner of the prefecture offers natural hot springs and stunning views. You can enjoy world-class skiing in winter, while warmer seasons are perfect for hiking and outdoor adventures. Sip sake, indulge in delicious cuisine, explore ancient temples, unwind with a massage, or just soak your cares away. Gunma is the perfect destination for a luxury break, with some of Japan’s best onsen resorts and a long history of hospitality.
Step back in time to a charming country village, surrounded by rice paddies and fruit orchards. Relax in the secluded sanctuary of Kawaba Onsen Yutorian, dotted with traditional thatched houses and modern wooden buildings that blend seamlessly. The spacious guest rooms have views over the countryside and private, open-air baths. Dine on exquisite kaiseki cuisine, and be lulled to sleep by the sound of crickets, frogs, and a burbling brook.
Visit Kichijoji, a temple located 3 kilometers from Kawaba Onsen Yutorian. Experience a tea ceremony and enjoy matcha green tea with seasonal sweets as you gaze over the Garyu rock garden. Shop for local specialties at Kawaba Premier at Kawaba Denen Plaza, stocked with premium products including craft beer, sake, wine, and sweets and pastries made with locally grown fruits.
The picturesque town of Ikaho Onsen is centered around a flight of 365 stone steps lined with restaurants and traditional inns. After walking to the top, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views across the valley, but you’ll probably want a massage, too.
At Ikaho Onsen Kaichoro, there are just eight rooms, to maintain the highest level of service and privacy for guests. Relax in a room with an open-air bath filled with water from the town’s Shirogane no Yu (silver water) hot spring while contemplating the nature surrounding you. Bedding has been chosen by a sleep therapist to ensure a comfortable night, and each room has a luxurious eiderdown duvet. At mealtimes, savor dishes that incorporate, locally-produced seasonal ingredients, carefully chosen by the hotel’s chef.
Another relaxing retreat is Ikaho Onsen Oyado Tamaki, with views over the surrounding mountains. Soak in a private bath, sweat out your stress in the sauna, or relax with a lymphatic massage. You can enjoy the facilities as a day visitor or fully unwind with an overnight stay.
Kusatsu Onsen is renowned for its abundant hot spring water, easy access from Tokyo, and, in winter, excellent powder snow. The traditional town has charming narrow streets lined with restaurants and craft stores. Stroll around the Yubatake hot water field at the center of town, and catch a yumomi performance, where the hot water is cooled with wooden paddles.
Kusatsu Now Resort Hotel is the ideal base for a relaxing stay in the area. If you’re just in town for the day, you can reserve a private open-air bath with 45, 60, or 100 minutes of exclusive use. Make time to try the other public indoor and outdoor baths, the hot tub, sauna, and Thalgo spa. To make the most of your trip, stay a night or two in one of the modern rooms and suites.
Takasaki is less than an hour from Tokyo by shinkansen, and Hotel Coco Grand Takasaki is an ideal base for exploring the area, just a few minutes from the station. The hotel has a public spa, but for the ultimate relaxation, stay in one of the hotel's suite rooms.
The Coco Premium Suite has a private outdoor bath and an open-air bath, plus a ganbanyoku, or hot stone spa room. Enjoy modern dining at the hotel or explore the area’s famous Italian restaurants. Takasaki is known for its pasta, due to Gunma’s extensive wheat production.
It’s no surprise that Bettei Senjuan was awarded the best Luxury Hideaway Resort at the World Luxury Hotel Awards. This beautiful contemporary ryokan is surrounded by forest in Mt. Tanigawa’s foothills in the popular Minakami Onsen area. The design details blend modern comfort and traditional style, from the woven stainless steel tatami mats and the intricate, hand-crafted wooden screens to the rustic reading room nestled in the forest.
Stroll in the forest, unwind with an aromatherapy treatment at the Sora spa, or just soak in your private outdoor onsen. Meals incorporating local seasonal ingredients are served in private dining rooms, each created with traditional craft techniques. Adventurous types may venture out to try bungee jumping or whitewater rafting on the nearby Tone River, but the lure of relaxing in this green oasis might prove stronger.