Every year in Japan, there lies a week in May where 3 holidays fall together. This week is called “Golden Week” because of the 5 day weekend. This year, we got a special “Silver Week” in September, where again 3 holidays fell the same week to create another 5 day weekend!
Unfortunately, we wanted to take an extended trip, but September 25th was our city’s speech contest, and we had to be there. So we decided to go with Kyoko-sensei and her family to Kusatsu Onsen instead. We spent Saturday and Sunday chilling, then went to their house Monday morning to pack up and head out. We didn’t realize we were in for a pitstop first, and tons of traffic afterward! It took awhile, but we finally arrived in Kusatsu with a little time to explore before dinner:
Our pitstop was an alcohol store to stock up for the week!
This is where all the traffic was! This bridge/dam is a hot topic right now. It was one of the projects of the old government, which spent tons of money on it and other projects just to create jobs and stuff. But the new government has vowed to stop it. Meanwhile, the people who were forced to move or bought out for it are now mad. So lots of conflict revolving around it, and everyone wants to see it before it is potentially gone.
First, we settled into our ryokan. Then, we hit the town! We got to see the main site of Kusatsu at that point, Yubatake! This is the largest hot spring in Japan, but the water comes out too hot. So, they built a series of boxes and a waterfall to cool the water off for the onsen! Kusatsu is famous for the sulphur level of the water, so the area has that boiled-egg smell.
Our ryokan, outside and in
The next day Kenji and I, plus Meg, Riku, and Dragon went to Shiranesan to see the mountains and volcanic lakes. Shirane is an active volcano, and so due to rumblings a lot of the trails were closed, only the main path was open. Which meant loooots of people!
Sulfer fields, heavy traffic, and the one spot of blue sky we saw all day!
Then, we made it back to the center of town to see the famous onsen water cooling ritual and dance called Yumomi. They sing Kusatsu’s song, and cool the water with heavy wooden paddles. After that, if you were bathing you were supposed to stay in the super hot water for just 3 minutes.
That night was more eating, bathing, and Wii playing! I love the Wii, it is super fun! The next day, we ate breakfast at the ryokan, then packed up and headed out to a park with lots of animals, kinda a mini-zoo, before leaving the area.
It was cloudy and a sorta sad looking day…
After that we drove home, and went to eat. All in all it was a super fun trip! I can’t wait to go to Kusatsu again!