There are so many hot springs in Japan. Kusatsu Onsen is located in northern part of Gunma. It is known as one of the most three famous hot springs in Japan with Arima Hot Springs in Hyogo and Gero Hot Springs in Gifu.
In this post, I would like to share the information about the access to Kusatsu Onsen by the train and/or the bus with you.
The limited express Kusatsu and JR Bus Kanto local bus
This is the easiest way to get Kusatsu Onsen. The limited express Kusatsu takes you to Naganohara-kusatsuguchi which is the nearest station to Kusatsu Onsen from Ueno in Tokyo. This is only train which goes to Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi from Tokyo. The travel time is about 2 hours 20 minutes. Please see the post below to find the information about the limited express Kusatsu:
After arriving in Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi, you may catch the bus to Kusatsu Onsen there. This bus service is operated by JR Bus Kanto. This bus is covered by JR Pass. But other JR deals, Tokyo Wide Pass, JR East Pass Nagano Niigata, JR East Pass Tohoku, JR East South Hokkaido Rail Pass do not cover this bus. You have to pay the extra fare on top of the pass.
Please see the link below to find the information about JR Bus to Kusatsu Onsen:
After you get off this express train at Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi station, get on the bus to Kusatsu-Onsen. The bus stops is same location as the station. And Naganohara-kusatsuguchi station has only one platform and two tracks. You cannot miss it.
If you take the limited express Kusatsu, the bus to Kusatsu Onsen wait for the passengers from the train at Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi station. In case that a bus is full, next bus comes right away. It takes 20 to 30 minutes to get Kusatsu Onsen from Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi station.
The Joetsu Shinkansen, a local train and JR Bus Kanto
The limited express Kusatsu is operated only twice a day on weekdays. You may not be able to catch it or it does not suit your trip plan. In case that you cannot take the limited express Kusatsu , you can take the Joetsu Shinkansen to Takasaki and transfer to the local train on Agatsuma line to Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi.
The travel time to Takasaki from Ueno by the Joetsu Shinkansen is 30 to 50 minutes. There are many kinds of the trains on the Joetsu Shinkansen. The travel time is varied by the train.
Agatsuma line is the branch local line in rural area. The train does not run very frequently. There are about 15 round trips a day. In the day time, the train runs once an hour. It takes about 1.5 hrs from Takasaki to Naganohara-kusatsuguchi station. Actually the trip time by the limited express Kusatsu from Takasaki to Naganohara-kusatsuguchi is about 1 hour 10 minutes. The local train on Agatsuma line is not a bad choice.
Even if you arrive at Naganohara-kusatsuguchi by the local train, the bus to Kusatsu Onsen wait for the passengers. This connected bus service is not an express bus service. But travel time is not much different from the express bus service. It takes 28 minutes to get Kusatsu Onsen from Naganohara-kusatsuguchi station.
Of course these trains and bus service are completely covered by Japan Rail Pass as well. Tokyo Wide Pass and other JR deals covers only train as well.
Express bus from Karuizawa
Kusakaru Kotsu bus connects Karuizawa and Kusatsu Onsen directly. This bus service is not covered by any rail passes. But Karuizawa is popular destination and it is connected by the Hokuriku Shinkansen with Tokyo. If you do not intend to use any rail passes, this route is considerable.
The trip time is 1 hour 15 minutes by the fastest express bus from Karuizawa to Kusatsu Onsen. The fastest Shinkansen train takes you to Karuizawa from Ueno in 1 hour 10 minutes. As I mentioned above, it takes 1 hour 10 minutes from Takasaki to Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi by even the limited express Kusatsu. The trip time by this route is not much different from the route by the limited express Kusatsu and the local bu s from Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi.
You may find the information about this bus in the link below:
Kusatsu Bus Terminal
All buses arrive at Kusatsu Bus terminal. There are souvenir shop, restaurant and small hot springs museum.
Many hotels are located within the walking distance from this bus station. But please contact to your hotel to make sure the location.
You may access to Yubatake that is most popular spot in Kusatsu by walk from the bus terminal. It is about 300 m away. The following 9 minutes movie shows you how to get Yubatake from the bus terminal.
I hope this post helped you to make your trip plan to Kusatsu Onsen.