Refresh Body and Mind on an Active Retreat in Gunma

After four days of active exploration, clean mountain air and delicious cuisine, you will feel completely recharged

Refresh Body and Mind on an Active Retreat in Gunma

Last updated: May 13, 2024

Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Gunma, indulging in relaxing onsen baths and saunas, hiking mountain trails, cycling through stunning scenery, and refreshing your mind with contemporary art. Ikaho Onsen and Maebashi are ideal destinations for an active escape. While most destinations in Gunma are accessible by public transport, consider renting a car for more convenience. There are several rental companies around Takasaki Station.

Day 1: Ikaho Onsen

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Ikaho Onsen is a historic onsen town located in the hills below Mt. Haruna. Its iron-rich hot spring waters, known as Kogane no Yu (“golden water”), are said to alleviate muscle pain, improve circulation, and reduce stress. Relax in one of the many outdoor onsen baths while taking in the clear mountain air. Ikaho Onsen is accessible from Tokyo by Shinkansen to Takasaki Station and then by local train and bus. You can also rent a car near Takasaki Station.

The town centers on 365 stone steps lined by restaurants, small shops, and traditional inns. Ikaho Onsen Fukuichi inn stands near the top of the steps. Boasting over 400 years of history, Ikaho Onsen Fukuichi is home to outdoor Kogane no Yu baths as well as “silver” baths of clear silky water. The rooms combine traditional Japanese aesthetics with modern comforts. Guests who stay in the Ikaho Retreat guest room can enjoy their own private garden bath.

After checking in, take a brief hike up the stone steps to Ikaho-jinja Shrine. Continue on a gentle climb up through Uenoyama Park to the Tokimeki Lookout for sweeping views over the town and surrounding mountains, then ride the ropeway back down. After wandering the streets to peruse the shops and restaurants, take a refreshing dip in the riverside Ikaho Open-Air Bath, a 10-minute walk south of Ikaho-jinja Shrine. Head back to Ikaho Onsen Fukuichi for dinner. Enjoy a meal prepared with seasonal local ingredients in the banquet hall or in the privacy of your own room.

How to get to Ikaho

Day 2: Akagi Nature Park and around Maebashi

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After breakfast, drive or take a bus to Akagi Nature Park. Enjoy a leisurely stroll through the natural forest areas where you can see wildflowers bloom throughout the seasons. The park is a scientifically verified forest therapy site, and its designated Forest Therapy Trail is said to provide mental and physical health benefits. The paths are made of soft bark to make walking pleasant and comfortable.

In the afternoon, travel to Hara Museum ARC for some artistic inspiration. The museum features contemporary artists from all over the world, including a permanent outdoor exhibition and a pavilion displaying traditional East Asian art. Alongside the sleek modern buildings of the museum, you will find the rolling hills of Ikaho Green Bokujo, where you can enjoy farm-themed activities.

Return to the inn to relax in a soothing bath. Stroll to Kajika Bridge before or after dinner, to enjoy the cool night air. The bridge is illuminated at night in the fall when the leaves change color.

Day 3: Lake Onuma and Mt. Akagi

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If you are traveling to Maebashi by car, stop off at Lake Onuma on the way. This picturesque caldera lake surrounded by the peaks of Mt. Akagi is the perfect spot for outdoor activities. Circling the lake on foot takes just over an hour with a stop at the lakeside Akagi-jinja Shrine. There are several restaurants and cafes at the south end of the lake, along with rental facilities for pedal boats and e-bikes. E-bike tours, with different routes based on time and fitness level, are available.

Hiking trails lead up into the surrounding hills. A loop trail starting at the Onoko parking lot climbs over Kurobi Peak and Komagatake Peak before circling back down to the lake. It is moderately challenging and takes about 4 hours. Be sure to bring warm clothing and suitable footwear.

After experiencing Mt. Akagi and Lake Onuma, head to Gunma’s capital, Maebashi. Check in to the luxurious Shiroiya Hotel, designed by internationally renowned architect Sou Fujimoto. You can warm up in one of three private saunas and tour the hotel’s extensive collection of contemporary art. Indulge in the hotel restaurant’s award-winning cuisine, which features local seasonal ingredients.

If you are using public transportation, it is better to travel to Maebashi first and leave your luggage at Shiroiya Hotel. You can then take a bus to Lake Onuma, which takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes.

How to get to Mt. Akagi

Day 4: Exploring Maebashi

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Start your day with a sauna before breakfast. Staff at the Shiroiya Hotel can organize cultural activities including tea ceremonies and kimono dressing experiences. Check out of the hotel and take a stroll around Maebashi. Stroll along the Hirose River to see sculptor Taro Okamoto's "Taiyo no Kane" (Bell of the Sun), then explore the parks and gardens around the historical former state guest house Rinkokaku. This compact city is home to ateliers, art galleries, cafes, craft breweries, and retro stores. From Maebashi, you can return to Tokyo via Takasaki. It takes less than 50 minutes by Shinkansen from Takasaki Station to Tokyo Station.

How to get to Rinkokaku

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