A Complete Guide to Ikaho Onsen, Gunma: Popular Areas, Attractions, Hotels and Access Information

Gunma Prefecture’s Ikaho Onsen is known throughout the country as a famous hot spring. It is a popular hot spring tourist destination surrounded by nature in the mountains of Mount Haruna. In addition to souvenir shops and ryokan (Japanese-style inns), the townscape with its stone steps in Ikaho still retains spots where visitors can play games unique to hot spring resorts, such as shooting gallery, and experience the retro atmosphere of a hot spring resort.

There are also many historical buildings such as shrines and historic sites, amusement parks, sightseeing farms, art museums, local gourmet foods, and places to enjoy spectacular views of nature. We will introduce everything about Ikaho Onsen, including access and transportation information!


What is Ikaho Onsen (伊香保温泉) ?

Charming attractions in the past and present

The poem "Town of Ikaho" engraved on the stone steps
The poem “Town of Ikaho” engraved on the stone steps

Ikaho Onsen has long been known as a famous hot spring. The hot spring resort is located on Mount Haruna, about 700 meters above sea level in Gunma Prefecture.

During the Edo period (1603-1868), travel to Ikaho Onsen was so booming that a Sekisho (checkpoint) was built in response to the increase in the number of visitors to the hot-spring. After the Meiji era (1868-1912), the place was also loved by many cultural figures.

It takes only 1 hour and 20 minutes from central Tokyo by car on the expressway, making it popular for visitors to enjoy a casual trip to the hot springs.

Two types of hot water gushing out

Golden hot water, flowing down the stone steps
Golden hot water, flowing down the stone steps

At Ikaho Onsen, visitors can enjoy two types of hot springs: Kogane-no-yu(Golden hot water), a brownish-brown water that has been gushing out since ancient times, and “Shirogane-no-yu,(White silver water)” a colorless, clear water that was discovered in recent years. Not only the color of the water but also its efficacy differs, and being able to enjoy two different types of hot springs in the same area is a feature unique to Ikaho Onsen.

There are many other ways to enjoy besides hot springs

Walking around the Ishidan Street (The stone steps streets)
Walking around the Ishidan Street (The stone steps streets)

The stone stairway streets that has become a symbol of Ikaho is said to be the first in Japan to be built according to a hot spring resort plan, and visitors can enjoy walking around the town while feeling the history and the emotional atmosphere of the hot spring resort. In addition to the hot springs, Ikaho Onsen offers a wide variety of tourist attractions such as historical sites, leisure facilities, and museums in the neighborhood, as well as seasonal fruit picking and local delicacies.

There’s a view you can only see there

Snow scene of Mizusawa Kannon (水澤観世音)
Snow scene of Mizusawa Kannon (水澤観世音)

In winter, the minimum temperature can drop below freezing, and the roads can become icy and snowy. In summer, the average temperature in August exceeds 30°C (86°F), typical of inland areas with a wide range of temperatures throughout the year.

Surrounded by rich nature and high mountains, visitors can enjoy cherry blossoms in spring, mountain azaleas with vivid red colors that cannot be seen in the city, alpine flowers, and the changing seasonal scenery of fresh green, autumn leaves, and snow on the mountains.

Highlights of a trip to Ikaho Onsen

Enjoy two types of hot water

Ikaho Onsen Source
Ikaho Onsen Source

The hot spring is said to have gushed out due to the volcanic activity of Mt. Haruna Futatsudake during the Kofun Period (250 – 538), and at Ikaho Onsen, which has a long history, visitors can enjoy two types of hot spring water Kogane-no-yu(Golden hot water), which has a unique brownish color, and Shirogane-no-yu(White silver water), which is clear and colorless.

Originally, only Golden hot water, in which the iron contained in the hot water was oxidized by exposure to the air and turned brownish brown, gushed out. Because the water was soft on the skin with little irritation, many people came to visit Ikaho to recuperate from illness or injury or for rest and relaxation.

It is also particularly popular with women as it warms the body from the core and promotes blood circulation, and has been popular since the Edo period.

And “Shirogane-no-yu(White silver water)” boasts an abundance of 110 liters of hot water per minute, and its gush has been confirmed in recent years. It was named so because it was colorless and transparent. It is said to be good for relieving fatigue, improving health, and recovering from illness.

At Ikaho Onsen, you can enjoy either one or both hot springs at each lodging facility or day spa. Enjoy the hot springs according to your preferences and travel plans.

Walking along the stone steps of the town


Ishidan gai(The stone steps streets), the main street of Ikaho Onsen, has 365 long stone stairs leading up to the Ikaho Shrine, and is lined on both sides with onsen ryokan, amusement facilities for shooting gallery, and souvenir shops. The stone steps are perfect for a leisurely stroll up the street and feel the atmosphere of a hot spring.

The history of the stone steps streets is very old, and it is said to have been created around 1576 during the Sengoku period. Stone steps were built, and hot spring water was newly drawn, and the area began to be managed as a hot spring resort.

The current stone steps, renovated over a five-year period starting in 1980, are paved with granite—a stone formed by the cooling of magma at depth and pressure from above ground. The poem “Town of Ikaho” by the poet Akiko Yosano is inscribed in the middle of the stone steps.

365th stone step plate
365th stone step plate

In 2010, the stone stairway was extended further to the north to 365 steps, with the hope that the Ikaho Onsen will be lively with people 365 days a year. A hot spring waterfall and a plaza were also built in the center of the stairway. Stone stairs markers are placed at the 100th, 200th, and 300th steps, as well as at the 365th step.

You can also find signs of the twelve zodiac signs along the stone steps. More than 200 years ago, there were 12 hot spring inns called “Oya” in this area, and since the zodiac signs had a meaning like the family crest of each inn, they decided to mark the stone steps where the inns were located with the signs of the 12 zodiac signs. Please take a stroll along the stone steps and find your own zodiac sign.

It is also popular to take a photo at your birthday or anniversary number of the steps. There are websites where you can check the number of steps for your birthday or download a commemorative step certificate. You can check them in advance and add them to your travel plans!

What is your birthday?
Download Commemorative Step Certificate

Play in an amusement park with a retro atmosphere

amusement area
amusement area

In Ikaho Onsen, there are still many amusement arcades centering on the stone step street where people can enjoy shooting gallery and other unique games. These amusements, which are unique to the hot spring resort area, have been passed down to the present in a nostalgic and retro atmosphere.

Everyone from small children to adults can enjoy themselves, so families and couples can have a great time together. Some playgrounds are open until late at night, so after relaxing in a hot spring bath, you can stop by to change into yukata and take a stroll.

Enjoy nature in each of the four seasons

Flowers and Ikaho Onsen Town
Flowers and Ikaho Onsen Town

Ikaho Onsen is a hot spring resort that developed on the slopes of Mount Haruna at an elevation of around 700 meters, and is surrounded by high mountains. Being surrounded by nature, visitors can enjoy the flowers and scenery of the four seasons close at hand.

In spring, visitors can enjoy viewing cherry blossoms at Shibukawa City Park and Ikaho Green Bokujo (farm), and from late April to early May, approximately 1,500 peonies are at their best on the grounds of Shorenji Temple in Shibukawa City.

In early summer, visitors can see vivid mountain azaleas in Ikaho Forest Park and Nagamine Park from mid to late May, and hydrangeas in Onoike Ajisai Park and Shinkoji Temple from mid June. In the highland areas of the Mt. Haruna area, the alpine plant called yusuge can also be seen in July and August.

In autumn, the trees around stone stairway turn red. Kajika Bridge near the hot spring baths in Ikaho Onsen is a famous spot for viewing the autumn leaves. And in winter, there is snow, but you can also take a bath in the hot spring while watching the snow.

Discover the history of Ikaho Onsen


There are two theories about Ikaho Hot Spring. One says that it was opened during the reign of the 11th Emperor Suinin, and the other says that it was discovered during the Tenpyo Period (729-749) by the monk Gyoki, just like the Kusatsu Hot Spring in Gunma Prefecture. Although various theories exist, it is said that a book written during the Nanbokucho Period (1336-1392) mentions the presence of a hot spring already gushing out, indicating its long-standing existence.

During the Manyo period, the area around present-day Mt. Haruna was called Ikaho, and many poems were composed about the area. The Manyoshu, said to be Japan’s oldest anthology of poetry, contains nine poems about Ikaho, giving visitors a sense of the area’s history.

The stone staircase that is the symbol of Ikaho Onsen is said to have been built in 1576 by Kogure Shimousa no Kami Suketoshi, who was under the control of the Uesugi and Takeda clans during the Sengoku period, to treat the wounded warriors of the Takeda clan during the Battle of Nagashino. A monument stands halfway up the stone stairway, which is said to be Japan’s first hot spring resort.

Ikaho Sekisho (checking station)
Ikaho Sekisho (checking station)

As travel became more popular in the Edo period, the hot-spring cures at Ikaho Onsen became popular, attracting people from all over the country. As the number of travelers increased and the area was also an important transportation hub, a guard station was set up here to control the flow of traffic. Today, it is restored as the Ikaho Sekisho and can be visited.

And during the Meiji period (1868-1912), the Villa was also built and became a bustling summer resort for political and financial figures, literary figures, and foreigners from the central part of Japan.

In addition, Yokote-kan, a hot spring ryokan located on the stone step street, still retains its Taisho era wooden structure, which still retains the atmosphere of that time.

Enjoy seasonal fruits picking


The area around Ikaho Onsen is known for its wide variety of seasonal fruits. Visitors have the opportunity to enjoy fruit picking at local farms. The fresh fruits can be tasted right as they are harvested, providing an experience unique to the production area.

Strawberry picking: usually December to June

Strawberry picking can be enjoyed in the Akagi and Komochi districts of Shibukawa City.

Cherry picking: usually from mid-June for about 2 weeks

Cherry picking can be enjoyed in the Akagi district of Shibukawa City.

Blueberry picking: usually late June to mid-August

Blueberry picking can be enjoyed in the Akagi, Hokkitsu, Komochi, and Onogami districts in Shibukawa City.

Grape picking: usually early August to late October

Located in central Gunma Prefecture, visitors can enjoy grape picking during the harvest season in Shinto Village, which is about a 20-minute drive from Ikaho, and Yoshioka Town, the largest grape-growing area in Gunma Prefecture.

Apple picking: usually from early September to early December

Since Shibukawa City is an apple-growing area, there are many apple orchards throughout the city. Depending on the time of year, you can also enjoy Gunma’s original varieties. The opening time and cultivars vary depending on the growing conditions and each farm.

For more details
Shibukawa City Tourism Information Site
Shibukawa Ikaho Onsen Tourism Association HP
Shinto Village Grape Town HP
Yoshioka Town Ogura Grape Town HP

Popular Tourist Areas

Ishidan-gai (stone stairs) Area


Ishidan-gai, the main street of the hot spring resort, which can be said to be in the roots of Ikaho Onsen, is a place full of hot spring atmosphere with 365 long stone steps lined on both sides and around it, lined with hot spring inns, souvenir shops, and amusement facilities. There are also numerous sightseeing spots where visitors can experience the history of Ikaho Onsen.

Visitors can stay overnight, enjoy a day trip to the hot springs, stroll around in yukata (light cotton kimono), and enjoy eating and walking around the area.

Ikaho Shrine (伊香保神社)

Ikaho Shrine
Ikaho Shrine

Ikaho Shrine is located near the source of the Ikaho Hot Springs, and its torii (gateway) can be seen after climbing the stone staircase street. The shrine has a long history and is worshipped as a symbol of Ikaho.

The deities are Ohonamuchi no Mikoto and Sukunahikona-no Mikoto, who are regarded as gods of hot springs and medicine. Ohonamuchi no Mikoto is another name for Okuninushi no Mikoto, who is worshipped at Izumo-taisha Shrine in Shimane Prefecture, and is also known as a deity that brings various blessings, including marriage, childbirth, and money.

Kajika Bridge (河鹿橋)

kajika bridge
kajika bridge

The Kajika Bridge, a red-colored drum bridge, spans across the source of the Ikaho Onsen. In autumn, the surrounding plants and trees all change color, making it a popular spot for enjoying the beautiful scenery of autumn leaves.

Every year, the bridge is also illuminated at night during the fall foliage season. During the illuminated period, visitors can view the autumn leaves in a fantastic atmosphere that is different from that of the daytime.

Rotenburo (open air bath)

Rotenburo(open air bath)
Rotenburo(open air bath)

The Rotenburo, which can be enjoyed at the public bathhouse, are located next to the onsen source a little further from the Ikaho Shrine. The hot spring water, known as Kogane-no-yu (golden hot water), flows directly from the source. Legend has it that the water, renowned for purportedly boosting women’s fertility by warming the body and improving blood circulation.

You can enjoy the seasonal atmosphere together with the hot spring baths: azalea blossoms in spring, fresh greenery in summer, autumn leaves in fall, and snowy landscape in winter. Please note that there is only an open-air bath and no washing place.

Ikaho Ishidan no Yu (伊香保石段の湯)

Ikaho Ishidan no Yu
Ikaho Ishidan no Yu

The Ikaho Onsen Ishidan-no-Yu, a public bathhouse operated by Shibukawa City, is located in the middle of the stone steps streets. Why not stop by during your sightseeing tour to heal your body?

Kishigon Ryokan (岸権旅館)

Footbath at Kishigon Ryokan Tatsu no Yu
Footbath at Kishigon Ryokan Tatsu no Yu

Kishigon Ryokan, located in the middle of the stone steps streets, is a long-established ryokan with a Taisho (early 20th century) romanticism, founded in 1576. Hot spring water flows from the source of the Ikaho Onsen hot spring through the Ikaho Shrine and down the stone step street, and is poured into each of the bathtubs in the inn from a place called Komaguchi, where the source branches off.

All of the 13 baths are 100% pure hot spring water.

In addition to the hot spring inside the inn, there is also a footbath, Tatsu no Yu, at the entrance to the inn, where you can enjoy the hot water of Ikaho Onsen for free during your sightseeing tour. Like the hot spring inside the ryokan, this hot spring is flowing from the source.

Ikaho Sekisho (伊香保関所)

Ikaho Sekisho (checking station)
Ikaho Sekisho (checking station)

During the Edo period (1603-1868), the therapeutic baths at Ikaho Onsen became very popular, and a lot of people including samurai and townspeople, began to visit the area. As a result, a Checking Station was established in 1631 to control people coming and going.

At that time, there was a thatched-roof building about 50㎡, surrounded by a wooden fence. The current building was restored on the site of the original, but the foundation stones for the gateposts are still in use where they were from that time. Various materials are on display in the facility, which is open to visitors free of charge.

Former Kingdom of Hawaii Minister’s Villa (ハワイ王国公使別邸)

Former Kingdom of Hawaii Minister's Villa
Former Kingdom of Hawaii Minister’s Villa

Robert Walker Irwin, Consul General of the Kingdom of Hawaii stationed in Japan during the Meiji Era, was a great lover of Japan, married a Japanese woman, and had a child. He loved Ikaho so much that he purchased a villa in 1891 for his family’s health and summer retreat, and spent summers there every year.

At that time, the house was a spacious residence with a building area of 90 tsubo (about 300㎡), but today, only a portion of the detached house remains. Guidance facilities have been set up on the premises, and a number of documents are on display. It is a designated cultural property of Shibukawa City.

Ikaho Area

Night view from Uenoyama Park (上ノ山公園)
Night view from Uenoyama Park (上ノ山公園)

In addition to Ishidan-gai, the town of Ikaho offers various sightseeing spots. You can see the streetcars that once ran through the town and experience the abundant nature, so please visit and enjoy.

Toge no Park (峠の公園)

Toge no Park
Toge no Park

In 1910, the Ikaho Electric Railway Company began operating a mountain railway between Shibukawa and Ikaho. It remained in service until 1956. At Toge no Park, the train that used to run is preserved and exhibited.

On the first and third Sundays of each month from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm, the interior of the train is open to the public for tours.

Ikaho Ropeway (伊香保ロープウェイ)

Ikaho Ropeway
Ikaho Ropeway

The Ikaho Ropeway runs from the Hototogisu Station in the Ikaho Onsen district to the Miharashi Station at the top of Mt.Monokiki, 955 meters above sea level, in about 4 minutes. The first floor of the station is a tourist information center, and the ropeway departure and arrival point is on the fourth floor.

After getting off the ropeway at Miharashi Station, you will find Uenoyama Park and the Ikaho Rink where you can enjoy skating in the surrounding area. The ropeway also operates irregularly at night, allowing visitors to enjoy the night view of Ikaho and Shibukawa City.

Uenoyama Park

Uenoyama Park
Uenoyama Park

Uenoyama Park is located around the Miharashi Station at the top of the Ikaho Ropeway. From the observation deck, visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains, the Ikaho hot spring resort, offering a spectacular seasonal view. The ‘Kibou’ Bell is located on the deck. Please make a wish and ring the bell.

Ikaho Rink, Gunma Sports Complex Center (総合スポーツセンター 伊香保リンク)

Ikaho Rink, Gunma Sports Complex Center
Ikaho Rink, Gunma Sports Complex Center

Ikaho Skating rink is located in a rich natural setting at the foot of Mt. Haruna. It is one of the largest ice skating rink facilities in Japan, with an international standard 400-meter outdoor rink and two indoor rinks.

It hosts not only major domestic competitions such as the All-Japan Speed Skating Championships, but also international competitions such as the World Speed Skating Championships.

Available to a wide range of skaters as well as beginners, you can enjoy ice skating while feeling the surrounding nature. Skates are also available for rent.

Hoshina Art Museum (保科美術館)

Footbath at Hoshina Art Museum
Footbath at Hoshina Art Museum

Hoshina Art Museum in Ikaho Onsen permanently exhibits works by artists such as Yumeji Takehisa, Kaichi Kobayashi, known as a legend painter, and Akimitsu Tomonaga, known for his doll art.

The museum’s observation cafe rest room offers a panoramic view of the mountains while enjoying a cup of tea. There is also a museum store where you can buy souvenirs and other items to remember your visit.

In addition, footbaths are available on the premises. In consideration of women, there is also a changing room where visitors can remove their stockings, etc., and towels are available for sale, so feel free to enjoy the footbath. Although the footbath is available only for visitors, it is a great way to relieve after enjoying art.

Shibukawa City Area

Onoike Ajisai Park, famous for its hydrangeas
Onoike Ajisai Park (小野池あじさい公園)

In Shibukawa City, where the Ikaho Onsen is located, there are many places to enjoy leisure activities, pick up souvenirs, and enjoy gourmet food. Visitors can enjoy themselves on the way to and from the Ikaho Onsen or just for a short trip.

Ikaho Green Farm (伊香保グリーン牧場)

Located on a large site at the foot of Mt. Haruna, the lush green Ikaho Green Farm is a facility where visitors can not only see the animals on the farm, such as horses, ponies, sheep, goats, and rabbits, but also experience and enjoy a variety of activities.

In addition to the popular horseback riding experience, pony rides recommended for small children, and sheepdog shows where visitors can watch sheepdogs at work herding sheep, visitors can enjoy archery and mini golf, make candles and butter, and feed raw vegetables to the animals.

At the restaurant and store, visitors can enjoy homemade soft-serve ice cream, hamburgers, barbecue, and other gourmet foods unique to the ranch, and original goods can be purchased as souvenirs.

From the ranch, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the mountains of Joshu. In this excellent location, you can also enjoy picnicking and playing sports in an open plaza with grass and shade trees.

Shibukawa Skyland Park (渋川スカイランドパーク)

Shibukawa Skyland Park
Shibukawa Skyland Park

Located in Shibukawa City and not far from Ikaho Hot Springs, Shibukawa Skyland Park is an amusement park on the hills of Mt. Haruna at an elevation of about 460 meters.

The merry-go-round is a gorgeous Italian-made two-story structure. There is also a 207-meter-long coaster.

Hara Museum ARC (原美術館 ARC)

Hara Museum ARC is an annex of the Hara Museum in Shinagawa, Tokyo. It was built in 1988 on a lush green site on the plateau at the foot of Mt. Haruna, adjacent to the Ikaho Green Farm. The building, with its modern, sharp form and black color scheme, contrasts sharply with the lush greenery around it.

The museum’s three exhibition rooms are simple spaces with natural lighting, and display the Hara Museum Collection, a collection of outstanding contemporary art from Japan and abroad, according to themes and projects. Outdoors, works by contemporary artists such as Andy Warhol and Olafur Eliasson are scattered throughout the museum. Workshops, lectures, and other events are also offered.

The adjoining Café D’Art serves special sandwiches and lunches made with local ingredients. On weekends, visitors can enjoy image cakes, original desserts inspired by the works in the exhibition, for a limited time only.

The museum store features books and original goods featuring contemporary art. It is also a great place to find souvenirs and gifts.

Joshu Bussan Kan (上州物産館)

Located about 5 minutes by car from Ikaho Onsen, Joshu Bussan Kan is one of the largest tourist facilities around Ikaho Onsen, offering about 2,000 varieties of Gunma Prefecture’s famous confections and specialties.

The top three most popular souvenirs from the Joshu Bussan Kan are Yunohana manju, a specialty of the Ikaho hot springs, Mizusawa udon, and Sashimi konnyaku(Elastic food made from konjac potatoes, cooked and eaten raw.), a specialty of Gunma Prefecture.

Yunohana manju is made and sold directly in the museum. They are made with brown sugar from Tanegashima island and are available in two types of sweet red bean paste: koshi-an and tsubu-an. The famous Mizusawa Udon is available not only as a souvenir, but can also be tasted at the restaurant inside the building.

Nagamine Park (長峰公園)

Nagamine Park
Nagamine Park

Nagamine Park, located at the mid-foothills of Mt. Haruna overlooking the Ikaho hot spring resort, is home to a cluster of about 10,000 mountain azaleas, which usually come into brilliant bloom in mid to late May. Visitors can enjoy the contrast with the fresh greenery.

From the park, you can see not only the town of Ikaho, but also Mount Akagi and the Kanto Plain. Take a stroll and discover the Manyo poetry monuments scattered throughout the park.

Onoike Ajisai Park (小野池あじさい公園)

Onoike Ajisai Park
Onoike Ajisai Park

Onoike Ajisai Park is being created to take advantage of the fact that this area, where Onoike is located, is on a north-facing slope, which is ideal for growing hydrangeas, the flower of Shibukawa City. Currently, the park has approximately 8,000 hydrangea plants of various varieties.

There is also a literary monument related to hydrangeas in the park. The flowers usually bloom from mid-June to late July, when they are at their best. The “Hydrangea Festival” is held during this season, and the flowers are illuminated at night.

Roadside Station Onoko (道の駅おのこ)

Roadside Station Onoko
Roadside Station Onoko

Roadside Station Onoko, located along Route 353 in the northwestern part of Shibukawa City, directly sells fresh vegetables picked in the morning and other agricultural products produced by traditional farmers in the Onogami area, a village in the mountains. It also sells prepared foods, sweets, and handmade goods, as well as souvenirs from Gunma Prefecture.

At Onoko, a restaurant inside the facility, you can enjoy meals prepared by local mothers. You can also taste handmade soba noodles. There is also a small park with playground equipment and wooden benches and tables.

Shinto and Yoshioka Area

From Ikaho Onsen, it takes about 15 to 20 minutes by car to reach the neighboring towns of Yoshioka town, Shinto Village. It has rich forests and is also a fruit-growing area. Visitors can enjoy interesting theme parks, Gunma’s famous products, and even try some handmade activity.

Ikaho Toy, Doll & Car Museum (伊香保おもちゃと人形自動車博物館)

Located in Yoshioka-machi, about a 15-minute drive from Ikaho Onsen, the Ikaho Toy, Doll & Car Museum is a large museum complex with a variety of themed facilities as well as toys, dolls and cars. Couples and families, children and the elderly alike, can enjoy the museum.

The areas are divided according to themes. The TOY&DOLL MUSEUM has a retro Showa-era atmosphere, including exhibits of tin toys and dolls from around the world. In the CLASSIC CAR MUSEUM, visitors can see nostalgic cars ranging from sports cars to family cars and mini cars.

Other attractions include the TEDDY BEAR MUSEUM, which features teddy bears from around the world, and the WORLD WINE &BEER, which displays wines and beers from various countries in a European cityscape.

Usaburo Kokeshi doll

Kokeshi dolls are wooden doll toys and one of Japan’s traditional crafts. Gunma Prefecture boasts the largest production of creative kokeshi dolls in Japan. In contrast to the traditional kokeshi dolls of the Tohoku region, Gunma’s kokeshi dolls are characterized by their freedom of shape and are attracting attention overseas as well. Usaburo Kokeshi, located in Shinto on the east side of Mt. Haruna, about 20 minutes by car from Ikaho Onsen, is a workshop of such creative kokeshi dolls.

At the Kokeshi Crafts Gallery, visitors can see approximately 1,000 kokeshi dolls, including old-fashioned kokeshi dolls, Usaburo kokeshi dolls, and kokeshi dolls that have won the Prize at a kokeshi doll contest held in Gunma Prefecture. A hands-on painting class is also available, where visitors can paint their own kokeshi dolls on a white wooden base. Visitors can take home their finished work as a memento of their trip.

Mizusawa Area

Niomon Gate of Mizusawa Kannon
Niomon Gate of Mizusawa Kannon

From Ikaho Onsen stone steps streets, a 10-minute drive will take you to the Mizusawa area. You can enjoy the stately appearance of the Mizusawa Kannon with its old history and famous local delicacies.

Mizusawa Kannon (Mizusawa Temple)

Mizusawa Kannon (Mizusawa Temple)
Mizusawa Kannon

Mizusawa Kannon, located in Mizusawa, Ikaho, is a historic temple.

The Niomon Gate rises above the approach to the temple. Completed in 1787 during the Edo period, this beautiful gate still bears the characteristics of early modern architecture with its gorgeous carvings and colors.

Rokkakudo, a hexagonal two-story pagoda, stands next to the main hall. Inside the first floor, six Jizoson (guardian deities) are enshrined, and it is very rare in Japan that they are set up to rotate.

In the corner of the temple grounds has a leafy cedar tree estimated to be about 700 years old. It is a huge tree with a height of about 38 meters. In spring, weeping cherry trees, 300 years old, are in full bloom, and in fall, the colorful foliage is vibrant.

Lake Haruna Area

A sightseeing boat on Lake Haruna
A sightseeing boat on Lake Haruna

It takes about 25 minutes by bus from Ikaho Onsen or 20 minutes by car to reach the Lake Haruna area. The high elevation makes it cool even in summer, and visitors can enjoy leisure activities by the lake and the scenery of many rare alpine flowers that are hard to see in the city.

Lake Haruna (榛名湖)

Lake Haruna
Lake Haruna

Lake Haruna, located in the Prefectural Haruna Park about 20 minutes by car from Ikaho Onsen, is a beautiful crater lake with a high degree of transparency created by the volcanic activity of Mount Haruna. Visitors can enjoy boating in the fresh air at an elevation of 1,100 meters, or take a sightseeing boat ride to admire the scenery from the lake.

There is also a walking trail along the lakeside. The path is flat and easy to walk along, and visitors can enjoy the scenery of the lake while walking through the groves of trees. Visitors can also enjoy camping and cycling around Lake Haruna. In winter, visitors can experience wakasagi (pond smelt) fishing on the ice of Lake Haruna. This is a spot where visitors can enjoy beautiful scenery and nature throughout the year.

Mt. Haruna Ropeway (榛名山ロープウェイ)

Mt. Haruna Ropeway
Mt. Haruna Ropeway

The Mt. Haruna Ropeway connects the Kogen Station on the shore of Lake Haruna to the summit of Mt. Haruna-Fuji, 1,391 meters above sea level, a 300-meter difference in elevation that takes only three minutes. It is the first 15-seat double-car gondola in Japan.

On a fine day, the summit offers a panoramic view of the Kanto Plain, Mount Akagi, and the Chichibu and Tanigawa mountain ranges. On a clear winter day, Mount Fuji can also be seen.

Yusuge Road (ユウスゲの道)

Yusuge Road
Yusuge Road

The Yusuge-no-michi hiking course circles the plateau along the Shibukawa-Matsuida Prefectural Road from Ikaho Onsen to Lake Haruna, and alpine plants grow abundantly along the route.

Yusuge, a plant that grows in clusters at this location, has light yellow flowers that begin blooming in the evening and wilt the following morning, so it is recommended to visit in the evening. The best time to see the flowers is usually from late July to early August. In addition to yusuge, visitors can enjoy a variety of other flowers from spring to fall.

Haruna Shrine (榛名神社)

Haruna Shrine
Haruna Shrine

Haruna Shrine, located about a 10-minute drive from Lake Haruna and halfway up Mount Haruna, has more than 1,400 years history. The god of fire is said to bring blessings associated with fire suppression, good fortune, good harvests, and prosperous businesses, and is also renowned as the god of rain.

After passing through the entrance gate, a mountain path surrounded by tall trees along a clear stream runs about 700 meters to the main shrine. Many huge and oddly shaped rocks can be seen along the path and in the precincts of the shrine. Many of the buildings are nationally important cultural properties.

The town in front of the shrine has inns that have been registered as tangible cultural properties of Japan, and visitors can take a stroll along the emotional townscape. The specialty of the town is Monzen-soba, buckwheat noodles made from buckwheat flour produced in Haruna and used spring water from Mt. Haruna.

Local Food of Ikaho Onsen

Mizusawa udon (水沢うどん)

Mizusawa udon is said to be one of the three best udon noodles in Japan and is famous throughout the country for its firm texture. It is said that the origin of this local delicacy dates back several hundred years, when udon noodles were made and served to visitors to the Mizusawa Kannon shrine near Ikaho Onsen, using wheat grown in Joshu and spring water from Mount Mizusawa.

The area in front of the gate of Mizusawa Kannon is also known as “Mizusawa Udon Kaido(road),” and is lined with stores specializing in Mizusawa udon. From long-established stores that have been in business for several hundred years to newer establishments, each store competes with the others to offer the best taste of its specialty. Mizusawa udon is usually served cold udon (eat cold udon with cold soup), but most stores also serve kake udon (udon served in warm soup). You can compare udon noodles from different stores.

Founded in 1970, Osawaya has two stores on the Mizusawa Udon Road. The freshly made udon noodles have the original flavor and chewy texture of wheat flour. They are particular about serving cold Zaru Udon and have heated floors so that cold udon can be enjoyed even in winter. The soup is handmade by artisans every morning. Maitake mushroom tempura grown by a local contract farmer is also highly recommended.

Yunohana Manju (湯の花まんじゅう)

Ikaho Onsen is renowned as the birthplace of onsen manju, a thin-skinned brown bun commonly found in hot spring resorts across Japan. Stores selling onsen manju, known as “yunohana manju,” line the stone stairway and the prefectural road.

Shougetsu-do, founded in 1910 and located below the Ikaho Onsen, is the store where it originated. The hot water of the Ikaho Onsen is brown in color due to its high iron content, so much so that tenugui (hand towels) are dyed brown. Inspired by the color of the hot spring water in Ikaho, the founder of Shougetsu-do made brown manju with brown sugar and sold it as a souvenir of the Ikaho onsen.

The brown outer is soft, and the rich red bean paste is made from azuki beans grown in Tokachi, Hokkaido, and has a pleasant texture and elegant sweetness. The ingredients are additive-free and handmade by artisans every day using a method that has remained unchanged for 100 years.

Access to Ikaho Onsen and Required Time

The city of Shibukawa, where the Ikaho Onsen is located, is situated inland in the center of Japan and Gunma Prefecture, approximately 120 km from central Tokyo. Therefore, the main access to Ikaho Onsen is by train from nearby cities such as Tokyo, and by local buses, cars, and highway buses that run through Shibukawa City.

By train

When traveling to Ikaho Onsen from neighboring prefectures such as Tokyo, Niigata, or Nagano, it is convenient to use trains such as the Shinkansen or limited express trains.

Required time

  • From Tokyo/JR Tokyo Station: Approx. 50 min by JR Joetsu Shinkansen to Takasaki Station, approx. 25 min by JR Joetsu Line from Takasaki Station to Shibukawa Station, approx. 25-35 min by city bus from Shibukawa Station
  • From Tokyo/JR Ueno Station: Approx. 1 hr. 35 min. by JR Express Kusatsu to Shibukawa Station, and 25-35 min. by city bus from Shibukawa Station.
  • From Niigata/JR Niigata Station: Approx. 1 hr. 15 min. on the JR Joetsu Shinkansen to Takasaki Station, approx. 25 min. on the JR Joetsu Line from Takasaki Station to Shibukawa Station, and 25-35 min. on a city bus from Shibukawa Station.
  • From Nagano/JR Nagano Station: Approx. 50 min. on JR Hokuriku Shinkansen to Takasaki Station, approx. 25 min. on JR Joetsu Line from Takasaki Station to Shibukawa Station, approx. 25-35 min. on city bus from Shibukawa Station

By express bus

From Tokyo, you can also travel to Ikaho Onsen by highway bus. Although it takes longer than the Shinkansen or car, the one-way fare from central Tokyo is around 2,000 to 3,000 yen, which is cheaper than the Shinkansen. Discounts are available for round-trip trips, online payment, and early purchase, so it is recommended that you purchase your tickets in advance once you have decided on your travel plans.

Required time

Figures in parentheses ( ) indicate express bus operators. For details, please refer to the website of each express bus company.

JR Bus Kanto, Joshu Yumeguri-go
Kanetsu Kotsu, Shima Onsen-go

  • From Shinjuku Busta (bus terminal), Tokyo: Approx. 2 hours and 30 minutes to Ikaho Onsen (JR Bus Kanto, Joshu Yumeguri-go)
  • From Yaesu South Exit of Tokyo Station, Tokyo: Approx. 2 hr. 30 min. to JR Shibukawa Station (Kanetsu Kotsu Bus, Shima Onsen-go), 25-35 min. by city bus from Shibukawa Station

Access from major areas

From Tokyo

  • By train from JR Tokyo Station: Approx. 50 min. on the JR Joetsu Shinkansen to Takasaki Station, approx. 25 min. from Takasaki Station to Shibukawa Station on the JR Joetsu Line, and approx. 25-35 min. by city bus from Shibukawa Station
  • By train from JR Ueno Station: Approx. 1 hr. 35 min. by JR Express Kusatsu to Shibukawa Station, and 25 to 35 min. by city bus from Shibukawa Station.
  • By car from Nerima IC: 1 hour and 20 minutes on Kan-etsu Expressway
  • By highway bus from Shinjuku Busta: 2 hours and 30 minutes to Ikaho Onsen
  • By highway bus from Tokyo Station Yaesu Street: Approx. 2 hr. 30 min. to JR Shibukawa Station, then 25-35 min. by city bus from Shibukawa Station.

From Niigata

  • From JR Niigata Station to Takasaki Station by Shinkansen: 1 hour and 15 minutes by JR Joetsu Shinkansen, 25 minutes from Takasaki Station to Shibukawa Station by JR Joetsu Line, 25 to 35 minutes by city bus from Shibukawa Station – From Takaoka JCT by car: 2 hours by Hokuriku Expressway and Kanetsu Expressway

From Nagano

  • From JR Nagano Station to Takasaki Station by Shinkansen: 50 minutes by JR Hokuriku Shinkansen, 25 minutes from Takasaki Station to Shibukawa Station by JR Joetsu Line, 25 to 35 minutes by city bus from Shibukawa Station
  • By car from Saku-Komoro JCT, Nagano: 1 hour and 20 minutes on Joshinetsu Expressway or Kan-etsu Expressway

From Nagoya

  • From JR Nagoya Station to JR Shibukawa Station takes about 3-4 hours, from Shibukawa Station to Ikaho Onsen by city bus takes about 25-30 minutes.

From Fukuoka

The route will be to fly from Fukuoka Airport to Tokyo and transfer to the JR line.

  • Approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes from Fukuoka Airport to Tokyo Haneda Airport by plane, 20-30 minutes from Tokyo Monorail to Hamamatsucho, 2.5-3 hours from JR Hamamatsucho Station to JR Shibukawa Station, 25-30 minutes from Shibukawa Station to Ikaho Onsen by city route bus.

Annual Events in Ikaho Onsen


first shrine visit of New Year

The first visit to a temple or shrine from New Year’s Eve to the New Year is called Hatsumode, and Ikaho Shrine and Mizusawa Kannon are visited by many tourists as well as locals.


Mizusawa Kannon Setsubunetsuina Ceremony

Setsubun is an annual event held around February 4 (depending on the year) to drive away ogres by throwing beans at them and pray for good health for the year ahead. If you apply in advance, you can wear a kamishimo (ceremonial costume) and join the Setsubun ceremony with special guests.


Ikaho Onsen Ishidan Hinamatsuri

The Ikaho Onsen Ishidan Hinamatsuri is a festival held around the time of Hinamatsuri (Girls’ Festival), usually in early March, at the Ishidan Street in Ikaho Onsen.

In addition to local preschool children, the event is open to the general public. Children who will enter elementary school in the spring of that year are eligible. And at the festival, mochi and amazake (sweet sake) will be served.
*This was a traditional event, but unfortunately it has come to an end.


Mizusawa Kannon Flower Festival

The festival is typically held on April 8, the birthday of the Buddha. On the day of the event, sweet tea is served. Please note that the scheduled date of the festival may vary from year to year.

Shorenji Peony Festival

Shorenji Temple in Shibukawa City, famous as a peony temple, usually comes into full bloom from late April to early May with approximately 1,500 colorful peony plants in the garden on the temple grounds. The Festival is held in according to the blooming period.


Ikaho Tanka Event

The historic Ikaho Hot Springs, which is mentioned in the Azuma-uta of the Manyoshu, Japan’s oldest anthology of waka poetry, holds the annual Ikaho Tanka Festival from mid-May to mid-June each year. Tanka is a Japanese short poem in the form of five, seven, five, seven, seven syllables.

Since the tanka poetry contest was held at the National Cultural Festival in 2001, it has been held annually in Ikaho. On the day of the event, there will be commemorative lectures by tanka poet teachers, and teachers will give their comments on the tanka selections and provide practical guidance.

Ikaho Haiku Event

The Ikaho Haiku event is held at the same time as the Ikaho Tanka event, from mid-May to mid-June each year. Haiku is a short poem consisting of 17 syllables (5, 7, 5).

This is a major event unique to Ikaho, which is also known as a town of haiku, where commemorative lectures are given and the best submissions from all over Japan are selected. The event will also include haiku writing instruction.


Tabi no Hi Ikaho Appreciation Day

Every year on the first Monday in July, Ikaho Onsen holds an event titled Tabi no Hi Ikaho Appreciation Day to show appreciation for visitors to Ikaho Onsen. The event includes a public broadcast of the Japanese broadcaster NHK’s song program, and so on.

Shibukawa Heso (navel) Festival

The former city of Shibukawa has been promoting community development with the keywords “the center of Japan” and “navel city,” and has held the Shibukawa Heso Festival in late July every year since 1984, which has now become a summer tradition. The Heso Festival parade, in which dancers draw pictures of faces on their bellies and dance humorously, awards prizes to the best dancing groups. In addition, various navel-related events are held, attracting about 70,000 people each year.


Ikaho Hawaiian Festival

The annual Ikaho Hawaiian Festival, held in early August, features a dance performance, and ukulele classes.


Ikaho Festival

The Ikaho Festival takes place annually from September 18 to 20, featuring a parade of traditional mikoshi (portable shrines) and taru-mikoshi (barrel mikoshi) along the stone steps of the Ikaho Hot Springs, as well as various other events. On September 18, the anniversary of the death of Tokutomi Roka, a prominent writer of the Meiji era associated with Ikaho, memorial tea ceremonies and a yukumi ceremony are held.


National Exhibition of Kokeshi Doll Art in Shibukawa

The National Exhibition of Kokeshi Doll Art in Shibukawa has been held since 1994, with the aim of enhancing the artistic reputation of the famous kokeshi dolls, which are a specialty of Gunma Prefecture, and many famous kokeshi doll artists live in and around Shibukawa City. Kokeshi doll artists from all over Japan exhibit their works. The exhibition is usually held from late October to early November.


New Year’s Eve and the night bell

Ringing the temple bell 108 times on the night of December 31, the last day of the year, after midnight, is an annual event. This tradition stems from the belief that humans have 108 earthly desires, and by ringing the bell 108 times, people aim to rid themselves of these desires to welcome the New Year with a fresh spirit. At Mizusawa Kannon, the public is welcome to participate in this bell-ringing ceremony.

Also, at Ikaho Shrine, amazake (sweet sake) is served to visitors on New Year’s eve.

Great deals tickets

Kanetsu Kotsu,”Ikaho Onsen Round Trip Free Ticket”

This is a free ride ticket convenient for sightseeing on the prefectural road connecting Shibukawa City to Ikaho Onsen.

Sightseeing spots within the applicable section include the Ikaho Stone Steps Street, Ikaho Green Farm, Ikaho Ropeway, and Shibukawa Skyland Park.
Please check the official website for fee details.

Sales locations: Inside buses, etc.
Applicable section: Shibukawa Station – Shibukawa Skyland Park – Ikaho Onsen, Ikaho Haruna Exit

Official Site

Gunma Bus, “One-way Free Pass for Ikaho, Mizusawa and Haruna”

The Gunma Bus “Ikaho/Mizusawa/Hauna One-way Free Pass” is available for one-way trips on bus routes connecting JR Shibukawa and Takasaki Stations to the Ikaho, Mizusawa, and Haruna areas. There are four types to choose from, depending on the route and the spot you wish to visit.

Major tourist attractions along the route include the Ikaho Onsen Stone Steps Street, Mizusawa Kannon, Mizusawa Udon Road, Lake Haruna, and Haruna Shrine. Since the service is available only one-way, it is recommended that the destination and route be decided in advance when purchasing the tickets.
Please check the official website for fee details.

Sales location

  • Gunma Bus Center (Misato Office)
  • Haruna Sales Office
  • Takasaki Station Information Center (Takasaki Station Bus General Information Center)

Applicable Segments

  • Mizusawa Ikaho Onsen Free Pass
    Takasaki Station→Mizusawa→Ikaho route (one way)
    Ikaho route → Mizusawa → Takasaki Station route (one way)
    *Between Ikaho and the entrance of the power plant, you can also take a Gunma Bus general route bus bound for Ikaho – Shibukawa.
  • Haruna-Ikaho Onsen Free Pass
    Takasaki Station → Lake Haruna → Ikaho Route (one-way)
    Ikaho → Lake Haruna → Takasaki Station route (one way)
  • Haruna-Ikaho Mizusawa Round Trip Free
    Same as the two routes above, both one-way use only

Official Site

10 Recommended Hotels

Fukuichi (福一)

The inn is quietly located at the top of the stone step street in Ikaho. You can feel the hot spring atmosphere.

Basic Information

Address: 8 Ikaho rown, Shibukawa-shi, Gunma
Children: allowed
Pets: Not allowed

Official Site

Ikaho Onsen Akari no Yado Okabe (伊香保温泉 あかりの宿 おかべ)

With only four rooms, the fewest in Ikaho, this inn offers wonderful hospitality.

Basic Information

Address: 373-8 Ikaho, Ikaho Town, Shibukawa City, Gunma Prefecture
Children: allowed
Pets: Not allowed

Official Site

Ikaho Onsen Kishigon Ryokan (伊香保温泉 岸権旅館)

This ryokan is situated right in front of the stone stairway street and exudes the charm of the Taisho era.

Basic Information

Address: 48 Ikaho-cho, Shibukawa-shi, Gunma
Children: allowed
Pets: Not allowed

Official Site

Oku-Ikaho Ryotei Kaichoro (奥伊香保 旅邸 諧暢楼)

All rooms are equipped with an open-air bath for a private and luxurious stay.

Basic Information

Address:5-4 Ikahokayu, Ikaho-cho, Shibukawa-shi, Gunma
Children: Not allowed
Pets: Not allowed

Official Site

Kounkan (香雲館)

It offers a different kind of hospitality from that of a traditional Japanese-style ryokan, and is a great place to relax after a long journey.

Basic Information

Address: 175-1 Ikaho, Ikaho Town, Shibukawa City, Gunma Prefecture
Children: allowed
Pets: Not allowed

Official Site

Oyado Tamaki (お宿玉樹)

Located at the entrance to Ishidagai, this is a purely Japanese-style ryokan with tatami-mat corridors throughout the building.

Basic Information

Address:87-2 Ikaho, Ikaho Town, Shibukawa City, Gunma Prefecture
Children: allowed
Pets: Not allowed

Official Site

Hotel Matsumoto Ro (ホテル松本楼)

The inn welcomes families of all ages to enjoy a pleasant time together.

Basic Information

Address: 164 Ikaho, Ikaho Town, Shibukawa City, Gunma Prefecture
Children: allowed
Pets: Not allowed

Official Site

Ikaho Onsen Yokote-kan (伊香保温泉 横手館)

The inn with history.

Basic Information

Address: 11 Ikaho, Ikaho Town, Shibukawa City, Gunma Prefecture
Children: allowed
Pets: Not allowed

Official Site

Hotel Tenbo (ホテル天坊)

Guests can choose from a variety of room types, from Japanese-style rooms, Western-style rooms, and rooms with an open-air bath.

Basic Information

Address: 396-20 Ikaho, Ikaho Town, Shibukawa City, Gunma Prefecture
Children: allowed
Pets: Not allowed

Official Site

Ichikawa Annex Seikanso (市川別館 晴観荘)

The view from the guest rooms is a panorama of Mt. Akagi, the Tanigawa mountain range, and the Nikko mountain range in the distance, and there are also three free private open-air baths.

Basic Information

Address: 557 Ikaho, Ikaho Town, Shibukawa City, Gunma Prefecture
Children: allowed
Pets: Not allowed

Official Site

Frequently Asked Q&A

How long does it take by train?

From Tokyo Station it is approximately 1 hour and 25 minutes to the nearest station, from Niigata Station it is approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes to Shibukawa Station, and from Nagano Station it is approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes to Shibukawa Station. From Shibukawa Station, take the local bus, which takes 25 to 35 minutes to reach Ikaho Onsen.

How is the climate in Ikaho Onsen?

Since Ikaho Onsen is located inland, summers are hot and winters are cold with occasional snowfall; temperatures vary widely throughout the year, but at higher elevations, it is cool and comfortable even in summer. Measures against heat in summer and snow in winter are essential. When driving in winter, be prepared to use tire chains and check traffic information in advance, as the roads can be icy.

How many nights would be most enjoyable?

A one-night stay allows you to enjoy the hot springs in a relaxed atmosphere and visit the main tourist attractions.

Editor’s Comment

The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Ikaho Onsen is undoubtedly the hot springs! Despite being a small hot spring resort nestled in the mountains, Ikaho offers a wide range of activities including leisure, art, history, and gourmet cuisine. Another attractions of Ikaho Onsen is its transformation with the changing seasons. Each visit reveals new attractions, whether you’re seeking relaxation in the hot springs, discovering favorite spots over multiple visits, or enjoying seasonal leisure activities and experiences✨

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