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Goin’ Japanesque!

Gunma’s “Shima Onsen” Hot Springs for a Unique and In-Depth Travel of Japan

When speaking of travelling in Japan, famous tourist destinations within the metropolises of Tokyo and Osaka are popular. However, if you venture out further, there are still a lot of spectacular tourist destinations that allow for a deeper experience of Japan.

“I’ve seen all the major tourist spots of Japan!”
“I want to experience Japan in depth!”

…for those of you who feel this way, we would encourage you to visit the Shima Onsen Hot Springs of Gunma Prefecture which we are introducing today.



  1. Take the Joetsu Shinkansen or Nagano Shinkansen from Tokyo to Takasaki (About 50 minutes) →Transfer to the Agatsuma Line at Takasaki, and head to Nakanojo Station (about 1 hour) → From Nakanojo Station, take the bus bound for Shima Onsen (About 40 minutes)
    About 2.5 hours  One Way Travel is a Total of 6,500 Yen
  2. Take the Ueno Tokyo Line from Tokyo to Takasaki (About 2 hours) →Transfer to the Agatsuma Line at Takasaki, and head to Nakanojo Station (about 1 hour) → From Nakanojo Station, take the bus bound for Shima Onsen (About 40 minutes)
    About 4 hours  One Way Travel is a Total of 3,500 Yen
  3. From Tokyo Station Yaesu Exit, take the “Shima Onsen-go” a Highway Bus that goes directly to the Shima hot springs.
    About 4 hours  One Way Travel is 3,100 Yen, Round Trip is 5,100 Yen

The 3rd route is definitely the most recommended. There is no need for transfer so you just need to stay on the bus! And it’s much cheaper than the Shinkansen or train. Map

It is by reservation only! Make your reservation here:

Related Articles:
List of Free Buses to Know when Sightseeing in Tokyo

Writer’s Photo: Shima Onsen Ochiai Dori

Writer’s Photo: Shimagawa River and the Fall Foliage

The biggest appeal of Shima Onsen is a mix of the traditional onsen district and nature, allowing visitors to enjoy the best of both. Even if you have visited Japan a few times in the past, if you are wishing to have a more in-depth experience of Japan, this is the perfect place!

Today I will guide you through 4 of my top recommended spots around Shima Onsen. 


Shakunage Falls: For Rhododendron Season and Fall Foliage!

Writer’s Photo

The Shakunage Falls located a bit further than the Shima Onsen. As the name shakunage, which means “rhododendron” implies, it is a waterfall surrounded in rhododendrons. The season for rhododendron is from around April to May. I was unfortunately not able to visit during that time, but according to the locals, the waterfall during that time of year is beautiful. The waterfall can be viewed from a relatively close distance.

Of course it is recommended during the fall when leaves change color!


Shimagawa Dam: The Mystical Blue is Beautiful!

Writer’s Photo

Near the Shakunage Falls is a manmade lake called Lake Okushima. The color of the water pooled in the dam by stopping the flow of the Shimagawa River, a river that runs throughout Shima is a beautiful cobalt blue. Minute particles in the water reflect the light to create this color and the color is said to change by location or time. Visitors can also enjoy canoeing in this lake. 

It is particularly recommended in spring during the season of fresh green leaves and during fall when the leaves change color!


Yanagiya Yugijo: A Showa Style Retro Gaming Center


Writer’s Photo

Here you can enjoy a game that has been enjoyed since the old days; smart ball. Smart ball is a game where you try to drop the ball through open holes on a board. It is also called the Japanese pinball game. The hostess is very friendly and will show you how to play the game. 

How about enjoying a Japanese game that was developed before computer games? Map


Sekizenkan: The Inspiration for “Spirited Away”!?


Writer’s Photo

The Sekizenkan is a traditional hotel that started over 300 years ago. It is a beautiful hotel that preserves traditions of the past.

Do you recognize this red bridge? In fact this bridge is said to be the inspiration for the red bridge in the Aburaya Bathhouse from the famous Ghibli movie “Spirited Away”! You may end up experiencing that magical world if you stay at Sekizenkan…? Map


We have introduced a few locations in this article, but in fact, Shima is an area with more attractive areas than we can introduce in a single article! How about discovering a newfound love for Japan here at Shima Onsen of Gunma Prefecture?

Official Website:

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About the author

I major in Tourism Studies, and am a university student who loves Japan!

View all articles by Rikako