Kusatsu Onsen access guide

Yubatake (湯畑=hot springs field) is the landmark of Kusatsu. ©Visual Gunma/©JNTO

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

The limited express Kusatsu by 651 series (C) 651 series K106 Kusatsu Miyahara – ja:User:細谷侑希 (Yuki Hosoya) – ja:File:651series Kusatsu.jpg

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.

The local bus to Kusatsu onsen is operated by the typical highway motorcoach.

Please see the link below to find the information about JR Bus to Kusatsu Onsen:

JR Bus Kanto official site – local bus between Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi and 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

E7 series is one of the fleets on the Joetsu Shinkansen.

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:

Kusakaru Kotsu Bus official site – English timetable

Kusatsu Bus Terminal

Kusatsu Bus Terminal is sometimes called Kusatsu Eki (=station). It is located in the heart of Kusatsu Onsen.

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.

JR bus and train ticket window in the bus terminal.

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.

36 thoughts on “Kusatsu Onsen access guide”

      1. i clicked the BOOK & PURCHASE TICKET HERE, but after that i couldnt choose the departure location. Please assist…or any other website available, please share

  1. Hi,
    I planned to buy JR Kanto Area Pass.
    Planning to go to Kusatsu Onsen directly from Narita Airport and from Kusatsu Onsen to Ikebukuro after a night stay.
    May i know how is there any direct way to travel to Kusatsu Onsen from Narita Airport and from Kusatsu Onsen to Ikebukuro which is covered by the JR Kanto area Pass?

    1. Hi Winnie,

      Kanto Area Pass is no longer available. Your choice is Tokyo Wide Pass now:

      There is no direct trains from Narita. You have to go to Ueno to take the limited express Kusatsu or go to Tokyo to take the Shinkansen to Takasaki. You can take Narita Express to get Tokyo:

      Narita Express, the limited express Kusatsu, the Shinkansen to Takasaki, the local train to Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi and all JR local train in downtown Tokyo are covered by Tokyo Wide Pass.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Takeshi-san,

    Good day. I was just wondering if there needs to be prior reservation on the buses from Karuizawa to Kusatsu Onsen?

    Also, if from Kusatsu Onsen back to Tokyo using the Tokyo Wide Pass, what would you recommend between going back to Karuizawa via bus or taking the Naganohara-Kusastsuguchi route connecting to Takasaki?

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Kelly san,

      The bus which runs between Karuizawa and Kusatsu onsen is a sort of the scheduled local bus. You cannot book a seat even if you want.

      You can take either route Karuizawa or Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi. I cannot say which route is faster. But in the most cases, Karuizawa route is faster.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Hello Takuji San,

    Would like to seek for your clarification below, based on your posting.
    I am staying at Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku (near Shinjuku train station) and the directions to Kusatsu Onsen would be as follow and all trips covered by the JR Pass?:

    – JR Yamanote line: Shinjuku Station > Ueno Station > Limited Express Kusatsu > Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi station > JR Bus Kanto

  4. Hi sorry,
    I have more questions. Is there a center or counter at naganohara-kusatsuonsen station for us to book a reserved seat for return trip (that is, from naganohara-kusatsuonsen to ueno) for both Kusatsu Limited Express and the slower trains?

  5. Hi, i am going kusatsu onsen from asakusa via ueno and have the JR pass.

    If i miss the kusatsu limited express and take the other options (eg shinkansen from ueno to takasaki or local trains from takasaki to naganohara-kusatsuonsen), will all this still be covered by JR Pass?

    Is there any bus waiting at naganohara-kusatsuonsen for the other trains (Not the kusatsu limited express) arriving at that station or do we have to wait for the next bus that is timed to the next kusatsu limited express (Which can be 1 hour or more later)?

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