Kusatsu (草津市 Kusatsu-shi?) is a small town on the very northwest edge of Gunma prefecture, by Mt. Asama and bordering Nagano prefecture. Though it has no resident JETs, you can bet a ton of them come up in the winter for the great skiing and nationally famous onsen in the town.
To/from the airportEdit
Don't even try coming here straight from the airports. It's good, but it's not that good.
A train line runs to 長野原草津口駅 (Naganoharakusatsuguchi Station...what a mouthful) and on into Nagano prefecture. From Naganoharakusatsuguchi Station, a bus is available that takes travellers the rest of the way to Kusatsu. It can also be reached by car, but taking a kei car into the thinner high-altitude air with four passengers onboard is vehicular cruelty, believe me.
Bus is about the only way you're going to be getting to Kusatsu. There are dozens of tour buses that go there during peak times, and a standard bus runs from Naganoharakusatsuguchi Station (I swear I'm not typing that out again) to the Bus Terminal, or Tarminal if you believe one of the nearby road signs.
The switchbacking on the highway towards Kusatsu is seriously frightening. Unless you really like hardcore driving and have a car with a good engine, don't take your car. If you are into that kind of thing...drive carefully. It's a LONG way from civilization.
Unless you were silly and drove there (in which case you will be trapped in endless one-way roads and traffic due to narrow, choked streets), Kusatsu is delightfully walkable, although during skiing season you'll definitely want a good coat and some boots that can grip the ice. Otherwise the hills will plant you right on your bum.
Nope. Unless you count skiing and boarding as a placement.
Lots of JETs income during the winter and promptly outgo in a day or three.
It's pretty far off the beaten path for non-natives. You and your friends may be the only foreigners you even see there. Everyone is terribly friendly though, and most of the ski staff knows a few applicable words in English. It's a great place to practice Japanese with people that will really be interested to talk to you.
Places to visitEdit
Kusatsu is rife with mountains, ski slopes, and hot springs. Take your pick! Definitely see the central spring, as it's got the highest natural waterflow in all of Japan by volume, and if you have time and stamina, either drive or trudge your way up the incredibly smelly sulfurous volcanic cone and see the cauldron lake on Mt. Shirane. It's an amazing opaque turquoise color. If you happen by on a rainy day, though, the rain can sting your eyes from the high acid content of the lake, and you will get a raw throat. No big deal though.
- KFC, It's part of the Tengu-yama international slope ski house. Can't miss it., It's a KFC like any other. Gets quite crowded but that's to be expected, and they keep things moving like clockwork.