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The Highlights Of Shima Onsen, Historical Hot Springs In Gunma

The Highlights Of Shima Onsen, Historical Hot Springs In Gunma

Gunma 2017.07.23 Bookmark

Shima Onsen is a hot spring in Nakanojo town known for the medicinal quality of the waters. Not only are there spacious baths, but there are foot baths and hot springs for drinking as well. Find out how to enjoy this special hot spring town in Gunma!

Translated by Jasmine Nishino

Written by Mayu

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What Kind of Place Is Shima Onsen?

Shima Onsen is a hot spring area within the mountains of Nakanojo, Agatsuma district, in Gunma prefecture.

It is a hot spring with a history dating back 1200 years and was designated as a national hot spring area for recuperation in 1954, along with the Sukayu Onsen in Aomori and the Nikko Onsen in Tochigi.

In the hot spring village, there are public baths, foot baths, hot spring fountains for drinking, and restaurants to savor traditional dishes, all of which you can easily enjoy in a day. If you plan on staying the night, there are over thirty facilities to select from and each has their own unique hot spring for you to relax in.

You can always find an accommodation of your preference online or you can call the Shima Onsen Association in English (+81-0279-64-2321). There is also an English website for you to check in advance as well.

Effects and Traits of Shima Onsen

The quality of the hot springs is great and is said to be effective against forty thousand types of illnesses. That is how the Shima (forty thousand) Onsen got its name.

The waters are said to heal cuts, neuralgia, and relieve fatigue.

In addition to that, the hot spring water is said to be very good for the stomach when drunk and are believed to help one's appetite. In the Shima Onsen facilities, you will find many spots to drink the hot springs. Why not enjoy a drink when you are at Shima Onsen?

How to Get to Shima Onsen

If you would like to go to Shima Onsen from Tokyo, it is best to use the bus. If you manage to go on the express bus Shima Onsen-go, it will take you from Tokyo Station to Shima Onsen in approximately 3 hours 30 minutes for 3100 yen one way. For a round trip ticket, it is 5100 yen.

If you would like to go by train, get on the JR Joetsu Hokuriku shinkansen from Tokyo Station toward Takasaki Station. It should take around 50 minutes. From Takasaki Station, transfer to the JR Agatsuma line and get off at Nakanojo Station. It should take around 50 minutes and cost 5060 yen. From Nakanojo Station, get on the Kanestu transportation bus for about 40 minutes, bound for Shima Onsen. The bus ride is 930 yen one way.

One-Day Hot Spring Spots of Shima Onsen

Here are some great bathing spots you can enjoy without staying the night at Shima Onsen. Free hot springs are a shared bath among the locals of the community, so you must remember to follow proper bathing manners in order to use them.

Town-run Hot Springs, Shima Seiryu no Yu


Photo courtesy of Shima Onsen Association

A hot springs facility by the Shima river side. It has a large bath, open-air bath, hot spring drinking fountain, and a space to relax and chat. The charm of this hot spring is the lovely seasonal view you can enjoy from the open air bath.

Bathing fee (2 hours): Adult 500 yen, child 300 yen (tax and bathing tax included)
Closed: Fourth Wednesday of the month. Check the end of the year and beginning of the year.
Address: Gunma, Agatsuma, Nakanojo, Shima 3830-1
Website: Town-run Hot Springs, Shima Seiryu no Yu (Japanese)

Town-run Hot Springs, Koshiki no Yu


Photo courtesy of Shima Onsen Association

This is a hot springs facility next to the Shima Seseragi Museum by the Oku-Shima lake. It doesn't have an open-air bath but you can enjoy the fascinating view of the lake and its surroundings from the window while bathing.

Bathing fee (1 day): Adult 400 yen, child 200 yen
Closed: Second Wednesday of the month. Closed during the winter from December 1st - March 31st
Website: Town-run Hot Springs, Koshiki no Yu (Japanese)

Gomuso no Yu


Photo courtesy of Shima Onsen Association

The Gomuso no Yu is a hot spring right by the famous Hinatamiyakushi Temple. The main trait of this hot spring is the bath being a hole carved into a stone. It is a tiny bath that is perfect for solo travelers.

Bathing fee: Free
Hours: 9:00-15:00
Address: Gunma, Agatsuma, Nakanojo, Shima Onsen 4372-1
Website: Gomuso no Yu (Japanese)

Yuzuriha Drinking Fountain and Foot Bath


Photo courtesy of Shima Onsen Association

The drinking fountain and foot bath is inside a wooden octagonal shaped building and is a perfect spot to take a break. Why not take this chance to drink the waters of the Shima springs that are said to be good for the stomach?

Price: Free
Hours: 9:00-17:00
Address: Gunma, Agatsuma, Nakanojo, Shima 4237-20
Website: Yuzuriha Drinking Fountain and Foot Bath (Japanese)

Recommended Accommodations in Shima Onsen


A historical accommodation that has been open for 300 years in Shima Onsen. It is also said to be the oldest wooden hot spring accommodation of Japan. A part of the structure is still standing from the time it was constructed in 1691, giving off the traditional feel of Japan to all its visitors.

The Keiunbashi bridge is also said to have inspired the red bridge that appears in the Ghibli movie, "Spirited Away."

Address: Gunma, Agatsuma, Nakanojo, Shima-ko 4236
Website: Sekizenkan (Japanese)

Shima Onsen Kashiwaya Ryokan

This is a Japanese inn with an authentic wooden Japanese structure. The great part about the Kashiwaya inn is the private open-air hot spring you can use without any additional fees. You also don't need reservations and can bathe whenever it is available. A lock can also be used from the inside for privacy.

Address: Gunma, Agatsuma, Nakanojo, Shima 3829
Website: Shima Onsen Kashiwaya Ryokan

Tokiwasure no Yado Yoshimoto

For those who wish to take a relaxing bath, this is a perfect option. The Tokiwasure no Yado Katsura has rooms with open-air baths and half open-air baths, so you are able to bathe whenever you like. The meals made using fresh local products are also very popular as well.

Address: Gunma, Agatsuma, Nakanojo, Shima 4344-2
Website: Tokiwasure no Yado Yoshimoto (Japanese)

Shima Onsen is Best During the Autumn Foliage

When visiting the Shima Onsen, you can enjoy the wonderful seasonal views while bathing in the hot springs. In the spring, you will find cherry blossoms, in the summer, the refreshing springs, the autumn has  bright red leaves and the winter covers the area with a blanket of snow.

During late October and early November, the foliage attracts many locals and tourists from all over. If you happen to visit Shima during this time, you can venture into the Oku Shima Lake in a canoe and view the picture perfect autumn scenery from the lake.

For more information about how to bathe in hot springs, please read Bath Culture In Japan: What Every Visitor Should Know Ahead Of Time.

** Travel times and expenses are based on publicly available information and are current as of February 2017. They may be subject to change.

Shima Onsen

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The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting.

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