Ikaho hot spring is located in the hot spring town in Shibukawa, Gunma Prefecture; its about 3 hours away from Tokyo by bus. Ikaho hot spring is known as the one of the famous hot springs in Gunma Prefecture, it has about 400 year history; its been a hot spring for everyone.
In the central town, there are 365 steps stone stairs, which is a signature point of this unique town. Mount Haruna has a long history of mountain worshipping culture; Haruna Shrine is located in the middle of the mountain. The shrine also has a long history; it was built between huge rocks which gives this location more spiritual vibe. People come to this popular shrine to pray respect and feel the special power.
- 5th Mount Haruna rope way
- 4th Mizusawa Temple
- 3rd Kajika Bridge
- 2nd Ikaho Onsen
- 1st Haruna-jinja Shrine
1. Spot ranking in Ikaho Onsen area
5th. Mount Haruna rope way
Mount Haruna ropeway can be used to get to the top of Harunafuji (1391m), the symbolic figure of Mount Haruna. It started its operation in 1958; from 1996, it started to offer two connected gondolas operation which carries 15 people at the time ( 1st in Japan). The length is about 527m, the Height difference is 267m; the duration of the ride would be about 2 min 50 seconds. On the clear sky day, visitors can see Kantō Plain and Joshu Mount; during winter, you may be able to see Mt. Fuji.
Seasonal events include Haruna Lake Illumination Festa in every December, would be recommended. During the festival, visitors can enjoy wonderful illumination from 17:00 to 22:00. Also, visitors can enjoy fireworks display from the mountain top as well as night view of Takasaki and Maebashi city.
The opening time of the ropeway service is 4th ～11th months 9:00～17:00（last going up 16:30) and 12th ～3rd months 9:00～16:00 (last going up15:30). The price would be: adult both ways 840 yen（one way 440yen ) and child both ways 410yen（one way 230 yen). There is a discount for group more than 25 people.
From JR Shibukawa station take bus, take Shibukawa – Ikaho Line (Destination : Ikaho Spring ) and get off at Miharashi shita or Ikaho Bus terminal. Walk about 4 min to Gunma bus service stop Miharashi shita. If you take bus, Ikaho Bus Terminal – Haruna Lake hot spring Yuusuge (Destanation : Haruna Lake hot spring Yuusuge) and get off at Ropeway Mae. Duration is about 1 hour.
4th. Mizusawa Temple
Mizusawa Temple can be called Mizusawa Kannon; its Tiandai sector old Buddhist temple in Shibukawa, Gunma Prefecture. Goguryeo’s Ekan was rumored to opened this temple between 592 – 628, but it was not confirmed. Current deity is Wooden Senju Kannon Bodhisattva Statue that was built during the end of the Heian era. The deity was originally and privately owned by the third child of Ienari Takanobe who was the local official of the area.
The deity is believed to have a great spiritual power. Inside of the temple, there is the main building, Prefecture designated important cultural property Double hexagonal tower (Good luck Rokujizo), Zhongloutang and Shakado. Inside the Shakado, there are Shakasanzon statue, City designated important cultural assets Enku Buddha (Amitabha statue) and Eleven-faced Bodhisattva statue.
There are also Dragon King statue spring spiritual water fountain inside the temple, this water is believed to have lucky charm power for finance and hardworking. On the 3rd of February, they host a yearly event of Setsubun Etsuina ceremony that is for spiritual cleansing and wish for healthy year to come. In May, there is a flower festival that visitors can enjoy sweet sake. Visitors must try Mizusawa Udon noodle. This noodle is one of the best Udon noodles in Japan: Inaniwa Udon of Akita Prefecture and Sanuki Udon of Kagawa Prefecture.
This Udon has 400 year history, it was hand-made for Mizusawa Temple’s visitors using local flours and natural spring water. There are many Udon noddle specialists near the temple: Tamaruya (since 1582) and 400 year history Shimizuya. This noodle has smooth texture and is thicker than other noodles. Everyone shall try it out! The temple opening hours are 8:00〜17:00. The entrance is free.
From JR Shibukawa station take bus, Shibukawa – Mizusawa – Ikaho information center (Destination : Ikaho information center ) and get off at Mizusawa Kannon. Duration is about 25 min. Cost is 480 yen (one way).
*the service is not frequent thus check before your visit.
3rd. Kajika Bridge
Kajika Bridge is located in Ikaho hot spring area near the spring. There is Ikaho Shrine on the top of Ikaho hot spring’s famous stone steps; the bridge is located near the shrine. The bridge name came from the Kajika flogs that is living near the river. This flog has a similar voice as deer and visitors can hear this during early summer. From this bridge, people can enjoy various sceneries depending on season: green leaves, orange leaves and snowy trees.
The best time to see the changing of leaves colour would be from the end of October to the middle of November. Also, they use extra lighting up apparatus to give special effect at night time. Near the bridge, there is a hot spring drinking center were visitors can drink from the spring which was introduced by German doctor Erwin Bälz. He used this hot spring to teach his hot spring medical treatment.
This weak acidity Hypotonic hot spring is good for treating gout, obesity and Chronic allergic diseases. Everyone can try out the spring water.
From JR Shibukawa station take The Kanetsu Transportation Bus, Shibukawa – Ikaho Line (Destination : Ikaho Haruna exit ) and get off at Ishidangai Guchi. Then walk about 15 min. Duration is about 30 min. Cost is 570 yen (one way).
2nd. Ikaho Onsen
Ikaho Onsen is the famous hot spring in Gunma area; its stone steps creates their unique nostalgic atmosphere. Its history started about 400 years ago in Edo time period. The stone steps which as if it goes to the heaven, would be their symbol. This stone steps are about 300 meter long and 365 steps all together. Along side of the steps, there are souvenir shops, antique shops and amusement facilities.
Visitors would enjoy this typical and traditional hot spring town’s atmosphere. 200 years ago, 12 main hot spring inns had their own Chinese zodiac like signs; now their signs can be seen on the steps.
Around the steps, a town square and a hot spring waterfall were made to make this area extra special in the town. There are two free footbaths in the middle of the steps, if you get tired by climbing the steps, you can enjoy this footbath at your convenience. Japanese hot springs have their own unique red bean sweets which are often brown in color. This place is the originated place for them. Their “Yunohana Manjyu” was chosen to be one of the presents for the Japanese royal family; this made the sweet to be known.
On the top of the steps, there is the Ikaho Shrine; their worshipped God is known for the hot spring and medical related things. This Shrine gives out a very legit vibe and visitors also can enjoy the great view of the whole town. A historic Japanese mansion which was owned by Robert Walker Irwin’s is another place to see. Like Kenjirō Tokutomi and Yumeji Takehisa, many artists loved this place.
Their memorial exhibition is also a thing to see. There are many inns and hotels which open their bathing facilities to day visitors in Ikaho hot spring. Hotel Tenbo is one to try out; it has a huge health suite that comes with 9 different baths. Day visitors can use their facility from 11:00 to 14:00. The entrance fee would be 1300 yen for an adult and 650 for a child. They rent out a small towel for 210 yen and a big towel for 520 yen.
They are not open for public on Tuesdays and Wednesdays; they also have unscheduled closers so visitors are advised to check their website before their visit. Ikaho Rotenburo is a public outside bath facility; it is located near the hot spring discharge point which is just after passing the Ikaho Shrine.
This hot spring is for giving birth; thus it’s believed to heal female reproductive problems. This outside bath is great for enjoying the outside scenery from the bathtub. The opening time would be 4th ～9th month 9～19, 10th ～3rd month 10～18. They are closed on 1st and 3rd Thursdays every month but it’s open if it’s holiday. The entrance fee is 450 yen for a adult. (under 1 year old is not permitted to enter)
From JR Shibukawa station take The Kanetsu Transportation Bus Shibukawa – Ikaho Line (Destination : Ikaho Haruna exit ) and get off at Ishidangai Guchi. Duration is about 30 min. Cost is 570 yen (one way).
1st. Haruna-jinja Shrine
Haruna Shrine is located in the middle of Mount Haruna. It has 1400 years history; people would pay their respect for wealth, business, healthy crops, luck and avoiding fire. In olden times, people came to this mountain to praying for rainfall and spiritual training. In this Shrine, there are Ishi-no-ma-zukuri main building, Kaguraden (small stage for dance), old main building, Double dragon gate, festival god house and Zuishin gate.
They are all registered as Important cultural assets of the country. The famous samurai Takeda Shingen came to pray for his success invading enemy’s castile by shooting an arrow to the Yatate Cedars; this tree is now registered as Country of natural monument. Moreover, there are more items that are registered as Important cultural assets of the country. There are many interesting rock sceneries : Misugata Rock, tsuzuraore Rock, Kurakake Rock and Nuboko Rock. Front of their gate, there are many historical inns that are also registered as Important cultural assets of the country.
The vibe they create would be authentic and nostalgic for visitors. People who would like to know more about history of this area, they shall visit Museum of History and Folklore which is located near the gate. Their opening time is 7am～6pm（winter season : until 5pm）. The entrance is free.
From JR Shibukawa station take The Kanetsu Transportation bus Shibukawa – Ikaho Line (Destination : Ikaho Spring ) and get off at Miharashi shita. Then walk about 4 min to Gunma bus service stop Miharashi shita. If you take bus, Ikaho Bus Terminal – Haruna Lake hot spring Yuusuge (Destanation : Haruna Lake hot spring Yuusuge) and get off at Haruna Lake and transfer to Gunma bus. Takasaski station – Hongo – Haruna Lake (Destanation : Takasaki station west exit) and get off at Haruna Shrine. Duration is about 2 hours. Cost is 1680 yen (one way).
2. Getting to Shibukawa Station from Takasaki Station
To get Shibukawa Station from Takasaki station, people need to use JR East Japan (Railway). Take JR Jōetsu Line towards Shibukawa/Minakami or take JR Agatsuma Line towards Nagano Kusatsuguchi entrance/Ohmae (destination: Manza・Kazawaguchi). Jōetsu Line has less than one train every hour on weekdays (9am, 11am, 2 pm) but during weekends and holidays, they have 1-2 train every hour, (except: 11am and 3 pm). Agatsuma Line has only 2 train services during daytime, then 1 train service every hour in the evenings. Duration is about 30 min. Cost is 410 yen.
3. Other Area List
Ikaho Onsen, Shibukawa and Haruna
Shima Onsen – Nakanojo
Oze, Numata and Kawaba