Breathe in fresh air, soak in hot springs, and enjoy soothing strolls through temple gardens to reawaken the senses
Last updated: March 03, 2023
Gunma is the ideal destination to recharge mind, body and soul. Hike scenic trails in fresh mountain air, glide on a paddleboard across crystal clear waters, quiet the mind and spirit with a temple stay, or enjoy an onsen experience at a holistic resort.
Nature heals the soul with beautiful views of majestic mountain peaks, quiet groves, and reflective waters. Mt. Tanigawa straddles the border of Gunma and Niigata prefectures, and offers colorful foliage in the fall, and slopes blanketed with powdery snow in the winter. Combine mindful forest bathing with healthy exercise on the Ichinokurasawa Trekking Course, a two-hour, beginner-friendly trail that takes hikers half-way up the mountain. Stroll trails lined with Japanese beech trees and listen to the fast-flowing Yubiso River to experience the healing power of nature.
Katashina Village is located within the borders of Oze National Park and makes an ideal base for wellness experiences. Reconnect with nature through fruit and vegetable harvesting, and nourish your body with delicious local dishes made with highland vegetables. Explore Ozegahara, one of Japan’s largest highland marshlands, or breathe in fresh mountain air on guided hikes up Mt. Hotaka or Mt. Nikko-Shirane—the tallest mountain in the Kanto region. Visitors can take the Nikko-Shirane Ropeway to the peak of Mt. Nikko-Shirane, and enjoy panoramic views while soothing their feet in the warm waters at Tenku no Ashiyu (foot bath in the sky).
Nearby Mt. Nikko-Shirane, Lake Sugenuma draws visitors with its clear, emerald green waters for leisurely canoe tours or stand-up paddleboarding. The lake is surrounded by verdant old growth forest with paths for quiet strolls. Watching the leaves turn a range of fiery colors in the fall is an uplifting experience.
Gunma’s hot springs have been popular for wellness for many centuries. Shima Onsen, in Gunma’s mountainous northwest, overlooks the deep blue waters of the Shima River. The hot spring town has over 40 mineral-rich natural springs, and many options for overnight stays. Experience the healing effects of hot spring waters through bathing, and also drinking the waters. There are several free drinking fountains in the town, so that visitors can enjoy the benefits of the rich mineral water. Shima Onsen is also located near beautiful blue lakes such as Lake Shima and Lake Okushima. Relax and renew your senses with peaceful stand-up paddleboard and canoe tours, or just gaze at the famous “Shima Blue” and feel your stress melt away.
The healing, acidic waters of Kusatsu Onsen have attracted visitors from Japan and abroad for centuries to enjoy the health benefits of a restorative stay. Minerals such as sulfur, aluminum sulfate and chloride have a host of therapeutic benefits including relieving joint pain, healing skin ailments, and improving blood circulation. The town has a wide range of hot spring inns and public baths. Some accommodations such as Tokinoniwa and Konoha offer soothing spa treatments for ultimate relaxation.
Ikaho Onsen is another onsen town with a long history of healing. Many visitors come to renew their senses in the clear shirogane no yu, meaning "silver water," and iron-rich kogane no yu, meaning "golden water." A day of hiking or exploring the town is a great way to boost the body's circulation, followed by a relaxing soak in one of the many onsen facilities.
Nurture the soul and experience deep relaxation through spiritual experiences. Kurotakisan Fudoji Temple on Mt. Kurotaki in the village of Nanmoku, is ideal for quiet reflection. Strike the bronze temple bell, then listen as the sound gently reverberates throughout the temple grounds. Walk the forest paths to a tumbling waterfall, or take a relaxing stroll along paths lined with seasonal flowers.
The main hall of Hotokuji Temple in Kiryu opens up to an expansive outdoor garden. Enjoy the reflection of vibrant maple trees off the temple’s polished floors, and the gentle melodies of wind chimes in the summer. Take a seat in front of the manicured rock garden for your own meditation, and enjoy peaceful views of the surrounding mountain range.
For a deeper experience of spiritual healing, try an overnight stay (shukubo) at Temple Hotel Kannon-in. Guest rooms have the atmosphere of a traditional ryokan with modern comforts, and offer views of a mossy outdoor garden. Experience temple life through meditation, calligraphy, and sutra chanting, with instruction in Japanese.
Start or end your wellness journey at one of Gunma’s gateway cities, Takasaki and Maebashi, which are easily accessible by train from Tokyo. A three-minute walk from Takasaki Station is HOTEL COCO GRAND TAKASAKI. From the soft lighting and natural materials to the wide range of spa features, the relaxing atmosphere starts as soon as you enter. Visit the spa floor for hot spring baths with sweeping views of Takasaki City. Soak in healing hot springs, stretch out on a heated bedrock bath, or work up a sweat in the dry sauna, then cool down with herbal tea or hydrogen water. Several spacious guest rooms come with their own jacuzzi or bedrock bath.
Five minutes from Maebashi Station, Shiroiya Hotel has an organic modern interior, and artworks from both Japan and abroad. Many of the guest rooms overlook the hotel’s large atrium and lounge; a calming space filled with greenery and art installations. Unwind at one of three saunas or book the traditional tea room to experience a private tea ceremony. Enjoy an elegant feast for the senses at “SHIROIYA the RESTAURANT” which uses locally-sourced ingredients. The hotel staff can also organize hiking and canoe tours for restorative outdoor experiences.