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Shima Onsen Highlights - Historical And Charming Hot Springs In Gunma

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Shima Onsen is a hot spring in Nakanojo, Gunma, known for the medicinal quality of the waters. Enjoy the spacious onsen here, along with foot baths and hot springs for drinking as well. Find out how to enjoy this special hot spring town in Gunma, an ideal for a day trip or weekend away from Tokyo.

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What Kind of Place Is Shima Onsen?

Shima Onsen is a hot spring town within the mountains of Nakanojo, Gunma Prefecture.

It is a hot spring with a history dating back 1,200 years. Shima Onsen has long been considered to be great for healing and recuperation, and in 1954, along with the Sukayu Onsen in Aomori and the Nikko Onsen in Tochigi, was recognized nationally for this.

Visit Shima Onsen to find traditional ryokan with hot spring baths, public bath facilities, foot baths, hot spring fountains for drinking, and restaurants to savor traditional dishes, all of which you can easily enjoy in a day. There are over thirty lodging facilities to select from and each has its 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 Shima (meaning "forty thousand" in Japanese) 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 where you can safely 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 3,150 yen, one way. For a round trip ticket, it is 5,200 yen.

If you would like to go by train, get on the JR Joetsu Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo Station and alight at Takasaki Station. It should take around 50 minutes. From Takasaki Station, transfer to the JR Agatsuma line and get off at Nakanojo Station. This train ride takes around 50 minutes and the total train cost will be 5,680 yen. From Nakanojo Station, get on the Kanestu transportation bus for about 40 minutes, bound for Shima Onsen. There will be English signage on where the bus is. The ride is 950 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

Shima Seiryu no Yu is a hot springs facility by the Shima riverside. 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.

Gomeso no Yu


Photo courtesy of Shima Onsen Association

Gomeso 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 stone. It is a tiny bath that is perfect for solo travelers.

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?

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 ryokan 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.

Visit Shima Onsen 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 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 Lake Okushima in a canoe and view the picture-perfect autumn scenery from the lake.

*Travel times and expenses are based on publicly available information and are current as of May 2020. They may be subject to change.

Written by

Previous experience as an editor at a women's media company in Japan. I lived in Australia for a while and joined MATCHA after returning to Japan. In charge of editing, promoting sponsored content, and creative direction. I love watching Western TV series.
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