Kusatsu Onsen in Gunma prefecture is one of the best hot spring resorts in Japan. Just 30 seconds away from the central “Yubatake” hot water field you will find a lovely inn called Nakamuraya. It has 5 different types of private hot springs which can be used 24 hours, and they are all furnished with rare tatami mats. The local cuisine is mild and delicious, satisfying completely the needs of your body and soul. But the biggest attraction of Nakamuraya Inn is the cat Ryu-kun who welcomes all the visitors! A real beatitude for lovers of kittens!
My name is Ryu and I work at Nakamuraya Inn every day
Kusatsu Onsen is a popular hot spring resort which is always bustling with tourists. There are many interesting facilities like public baths, souvenir shops, restaurants, museums and a small zoo. Among all these exciting places is also Nakamuraya Inn, a hot spring inn where the most attractive feature is the cute cat.
Its name is Ryu-kun. During the cold winter Ryu-kun stays in the hallway which has floor heating, while in summer it goes outside on the veranda. Sometimes it even takes the elevator. Ryu-kun is very cute and lovely – it allows to be hugged even by first-time visitors, so it has a really nice character.
Note that Nakamuraya Inn doesn’t have a parking lot, so if you arrive by car you have to leave it at the parking lot next to the bus terminal. The inn will issue a ticket for the parking lot for the time of your stay.
A natural tatami-matted bath! Free use of 5 different private baths
Nakamuraya Inn uses the freely flowing hot water spring of the Yubatake field. The water is acid and rich in sulfur which makes it very good for the skin. This hot spring is well known among women for its beautification effect!
The water temperature is about 45 degrees, rather hot. Enter slowly with your feet first in order to avoid stress on your body. The water is rich in mineral components and therefore might cause dizziness if you stay too long. It’s recommended to enter in repeating short intervals of 3-5 minutes. There are 5 types of private hot spring baths which can be used any time and can be locked. All of them are also called “tatami baths” because of their unique tatami mats.
You might be surprised to learn that there are tatami mats in a bath, but these aren’t the same as the ones used at houses. The tatami mats here are water-proof and do not get mouldy. Furthermore they feel warm so it’s safe to bathe there.
4 private baths were reopened after renovation in 2013!
4 out of the 5 private baths were renovated in 2013. Their names come from the alpine plants growing around Kusatsu:
“Shakunage” (rhododendron): the only bath which didn’t undergo renovation. It has big windows and feels warm because of its wooden interior. “Komakusa” (dicentra): it has a square-shaped stone bath. There are hardly any steps in this room. “Iwakagami”: another one with a square-shaped stone bath, but an elevated one. “Nanakamado” (Japanese rowan): it has a round-shaped porcelain bath and feels quite relaxed. “Shiraneaoi” (mallow): another round-shaped porcelain bath which looks very bright. On the photo you can see “Shiraneaoi” bath.
The famous local delicacies are kamameshi and deer mince! Delicious and satisfying!
The local delicacies at Nakamuraya Inn are “kamameshi” (a small pot with vegetables, rice and meat) and deer mince – true blessings of the mountains. The deer mince is especially soft and delicate. It tastes better than beef! You can use three different spices – yuzu zest and chili peppers, wasabi and ginger, but I recommend putting the yuzu zest first.
What’s being cooked on the sunken fireplace is salt-grilled sweetfish as well as Gunma prefecture’s local dish “okkirikomi”. It has plenty of vegetables boiling in a soy-sauce soup with big noodles. In general the dishes are rich in mountain ingredients and completely satisfying! There are even hand-made devil’s tongue slices and steaks, so you’ll surely get full. The breakfast is also filling and includes tofu skin which you warm up and make yourself. After checking out you will receive a free onigiri lunch box! In this inn everyone cares about satisfying both your stomach and soul.
Welcoming guests with a calm face
On warm days Ryu-kun is basking in the sun. Its relaxed face welcomes Nakamuraya Inn’s guests every day.
In fact Ryu-kun is quite skilled. What impressed me the most is how it could take off its little clothes by itself. The owner’s daughter simply unbuttons the shirt and Ryu-kun lifts its front legs, shakes a bit and takes it off. How attractive this is! Ask the owner’s daughter if you want her to show you Ryu-kun’s amazing skills.
Definitely visit the top-class Nakamuraya Inn if you go to Kusatsu Onsen!
Nakamuraya Inn is managed as a family business and feels very comfortable. The owner and her daughter are really hospitable and make you feel quite relaxed. The price is affordable, so this inn is ideal for family trips and lovers of cats. Be sure to taste the ultimate happiness you’ll experience at Nakamuraya Inn.