Gunma prefecture’s Manza Prince Hotel is situated 1800 meters above sea level and is therefore known as the hot spring closest to the stars. There are even gender mixed baths above the clouds. You can use the hot spring facilities 24 hours per day and enjoy the rising sun or the starry sky. This place is great for couples and families who wish to soak in the bath together.
In winter you can have fun at the nearby Manza Onsen ski slopes. Moreover, the lift is free for pre-school children! I strongly recommend Manza Onsen for those who want to experience both hot springs and skiing in the winter.
The open-air bath above the clouds attracts plenty of hot spring fans
Manza Onsen is a small hot spring town located in the northwest part of Gunma prefecture, not far away from Kusatsu Onsen. Manza Onsen’s water has the biggest concentration of sulfur in Japan – over 150 times more than the standard! What a great quality!
There are 8 hot spring inns in Manza Onsen, but the biggest place for accommodation in Manza Prince Hotel which has a total of 8 gender mixed open-aired baths. With its location of 1800 meters above sea level they provide a unique view towards the neighbouring mountain slopes and you feel like floating over the clouds! In some seasons you can even see an actual sea of clouds down there. Manza Prince Hotel’s open-air baths are the most spacious in the entire town.
Similar to Kusatsu Onsen, Manza Onsen also has its hot water field which generates large amounts of water all the time, therefore the surrounding facilities use naturally flowing water. It’s as hot as 70 degrees so it needs to be diluted to a mild temperature. The color is milky white, with a sulfuric smell. In fact everything is just perfect – the smell, the water quality, the view, everything! Men and women can cross the bamboo fences around their gender divided baths and enter the gender-mixed ones which are largely used by couples and whole families. That is why this hot spring is recommended for family trips.
You can enter 24 hours per day and enjoy the brilliant view anytime. During the night you can watch the starry sky. In early morning, between 6:30 and 7 am when the sun rises, the entire open-air bath turns orange, embraced by the first sun beams! When you enter the gender-mixed bathroom, please use a large blue towel that is available to rent for 100 JPY or buy the special bath garment which is on sale at the local shop. Wearing a swimming suit is not allowed.
Manza Prince Hotel consists of three connected buildings
Manza Prince Hotel consists of three connected buildings. The total number of guest rooms is 232. With so many rooms it will be hard to choose which one to stay in! Let me help you by introducing the room types and their features. This information will be helpful when you book your accommodation.
Main building: This is the building with the front desk and the restaurant. It has compact 19 square meter twin rooms, spacious Western-style family rooms for up to 4 people (twin rooms with extra beds for 2 to 4 people) and Japanese-style rooms with 10 tatamis. Take the stairs down and you will reach the open-air baths. The ski slopes are very close to the building. If you travel with your family, this is the building for you. Note: On the photo you can see the family room.
The east building: This one is closest to the hot springs. The rooms are compact 19 square meter twin rooms. This building is recommended for those who want to be close to the hot water baths.
The south building: It’s accessible by a rare incline elevator from the main building. The rooms are 24 square meter twin rooms. There is an indoor bath on the first floor which tends to be less crowded than the open-air baths. This building is recommended for those who don’t necessarily want to soak in an open-air bath.
The indoor bath in the south building is relatively empty
The newest building of the three is the south one. There is an indoor bath on its first floor which is surprisingly empty and unknown, since most people prefer to book rooms in the other buildings near the open-air baths. The water is freely flowing and this bath is recommended to those who don’t insist on soaking in an open-air bath.
Since Manza Prince Hotel is located high above sea lovel, the view from the windows is outstanding! The water is rich in sulfates and sulfuric components which are said to beautify your skin. This is a top-class indoor bath that you will really like.
Dinner is Japanese, Western, Chinese or a buffet style. I recommend the Chinese one!
At Manza Prince Hotel you can choose between Japanese, Western, Chinese dinner or a buffet style dinner. Each of them uses plenty of local products from Gunma prefecture.
If you can’t decide what to eat, I recommend the Chinese dinner – a rare one for Japanese hot spring accommodations. Genuine Sichuan style cuisine is offered in 2 different set menus which change according to the season. The seafood is delicious, the vegetables are fresh and the spicing is reasonable and appropriate for everyone. You won’t forget this taste! You’ll want more of it!
Right next to the hotel is the ski slope with special services for kids – free lift for them!
The snow around Manza Prince Hotel is soft and powder-like. You can ski there every year from the second Saturday of December to the first Sunday of April. This place is popular among fans of winter sports.
There are many special services for kids! For example: - The lift is free for pre-school children. - There are rental kids’ ski and snowboards with the popular anime characters Gachapin and Mukku. - Every first and third Sunday between January and March kids receive one free drink.
There are other services for children too – this resort is a true kids paradise! Manza Onsen Ski Resort in 2014: Open between December 12, 2014 and April 5, 2015.
How to reach Manza Prince Hotel
In winter National Route 292 which connects Shiga Kogen and Manza Onsen is closed (it’s only open between April 25 and mid-November). The only way to reach Manza Prince Hotel in winter is through Manza Highway.
Manza Highway is a toll road where snow plows work 24 hours per day. It’s safer to drive than smaller roads in winter, but using snow chains is compulsory between November and April. You can reach Manza Onsen by car from Tokyo in 4.5 hours. The trip might take a bit longer depending on the weather conditions.