Sunday, February 24, 2013
Sulfur and Snow
Gunma has the dubious luck to be a prefecture rich in volcanic activity. While in historic times this has tended more towards the cataclysmically dubious side, these days the forces deep under the area brings plenty of tourist dollars to the many, many thermal hot springs. My love of Japanese onsen has been pretty well documented, both here and by my friends. One even dubbed me the Onsen Otaku (an Otaku is a super obsessed fan of something.) In this aspect, living in Gunma has been great.
The resort town of Kusatsu is one of the more famous hot springs towns in Gunma, and in Japan. Its history stretches back centuries, and it is one of my favorite places in the whole country. I think a big part of my love comes from the combination of mountain scenery, great waters, and the eclectic feel of the town itself.
A couple of friends of mine had never been to the baths in Kusatsu before, and I decided that this was a situation that had to be rectified. We honestly could not have picked a better day. The chill temperatures and heavy snow fall were a perfect environment for enjoying a nice, hot, bath.
I have been to Kusatsu many times, but this time was my favorite. The steam rising off of the emerald blue waters of the massive outdoor bath and mingling with the fat windblown flakes was magical. There is just something so compelling about that strange conjuncture, of icy wind blowing in your frozen hair while the rest of you sits warm and relaxed in water that was heated and treated deep below the earth in the bowels of an active volcano.