Destinations

Ikaho

Last updated: December 21, 2020

Historic, hillside onsen town centered around stone steps

The traditional onsen town of Ikaho centers on a picturesque stone stairway. Small shops, restaurants, and ryokan inns cluster around the steps, creating a cozy atmosphere. Beyond the baths, attractions in Ikaho include shrines, museums, and shops selling onsen manju—a steamed bun filled with red bean paste that the town claims originated here.

Ikaho has a long history, which can be traced back to around 759 CE, when it was mentioned in the Manyoshu, Japan's oldest surviving collection of poems.

The town is known for having two types of onsen water: Kogane no Yu ("golden water"), where high iron content gives the water a brownish-red hue, and Shirogane no Yu ("silver water"), which comes from a newly discovered spring. Nearby, hike Mt. Haruna or go boating at its crater lake, Lake Haruna.

See & Do

Nature & Outdoors

Mt. Haruna

Relaxation

Ikaho Open-Air Bath

History & Culture

Ikaho-jinja Shrine

History & Culture

Haruna-jinja Shrine

Nature & Outdoors

Kajika Bridge

When to Visit

Take a dip in the Ikaho Open-Air Bath to experience Ikaho’s scenery from its mineral-rich waters. Check out the thousands of red, white, and pink moss phlox flowers that swirl across Misato Moss Phlox Park from mid-April to early May or 1,500 cherry trees that bloom at Ikaho Green Bokujo, a working farm where you can interact with the animals.

Getting Here

Getting Here
Getting Here

Highway buses run from the Shinjuku Bus Terminal in Tokyo to Ikaho Onsen and take about 2.5 hours. Alternatively, take the Limited Express Kusatsu from Ueno Station in Tokyo to Shibukawa Station (1 hr 40 min), then change to the local bus to Ikaho Onsen (25 min). You can also get to Shibukawa Station by taking the shinkansen from Tokyo or Ueno stations to Takasaki Station (50 min), then changing to the Joetsu or Agatsuma lines (25 min).

Getting Around

Getting Around

Ikaho is compact, and the town's signature stone staircase connects most of its main sights. If you plan on exploring the wider area, the Shibukawa Ikaho Area Pass is a two-day bus pass (Adults 1,500 yen; children 6-12 years 750 yen) with extensive coverage of the locality.

Renting a Car

Renting a Car

Consider renting a car to unlock rewarding sights and activities outside the town. There are no rental car outlets in Ikaho, so rent at Shibukawa Station or Takasaki Station and drive the final stretch. Be warned that in winter, roads can freeze, and the streets in Ikaho Onsen are narrow and sloping.

Accommodation

Ikaho's accommodation options include hotels of various sizes and price points, as well as traditional ryokan inns. There are multiple campgrounds in and around Ikaho, ranging from bungalows at Lake Haruna Auto Camp and tents at Kurinoki Campground, which offer a more adventurous choice, but no English language support is available.

Travel Tips

Ikaho has a fairly temperate climate. The coldest month is February when low temperatures dip to -3 degrees Celsius. August is the warmest month, with average highs of around 30 degrees.

There are a handful of convenience stores in the vicinity of Ikaho Onsen, each of which has an ATM. However, it may be a good idea to withdraw cash elsewhere before you arrive in the town. Around Mt. Haruna, there are almost no ATM facilities.

Gunma Prefectural Haruna Park Visitor Center provides information about Mt. Haruna and the surrounding area. Within Ikaho itself, most accommodations can provide information about nearby sights and activities.

There are coin-operated luggage lockers conveniently located at the bottom of Ikaho’s stone steps. For a small fee, Shibukawa Ekimae Plaza will deliver your luggage directly to your accommodation.

Most hotels provide free Wi-Fi, but if you want to be connected at all times, buy a pre-paid SIM card or organize a pocket Wi-Fi rental on arrival in Japan.

Related Stories & Guides

Ikaho Official Tourism Website

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