Japan: Japan is a heaven for hot-spring lovers with over 3,000 pools located all over the country.
The Japanese name for this gift of nature is Onsen and Kusatsu Onsen in Gunma Prefecture, which is one of the most famous hot-spring resorts in the country.
It is blessed with large volumes of hot springs which helps cure several illnesses.
“The most amazing thing in Kusatsu Onsen is the water canals made of wood which distributes hot water to seven spring facilities. They are used to reduce the water temperature. It is currently 51 degrees which means that it could cause burning to the skin so the main function of the water channels is to cool the temperature so that it can be used safely,” said Yoichi Okawa from Kusatsu Tourism office.
Kusatsu Onsen is renowned as a hot-spring resort for centuries.
It became famous worldwide by German doctor Erwin von Baelz, who served at the Japanese Imperial Court for Emperor Meiji in the late 1800s. The doctor had recommended Kusatsu hot waters for its medical benefits.
“Doctor Baelz loved travelling around Japan and visiting hot-springs and when he came to Kusatsu. He realised the great healing quality of the water and thanks to his writings, Kusatsu became internationally famous as a tourist spot,” Okawa said.
Another tourist attraction in Kusatsu Onsen is the traditional Yumomi performance where ladies sing about the benefits of Kusatsu Onsen while mixing water using boards of wood.
“By mixing water with the air, we reduce its high temperature to make it more suitable for use and this process is called Yumomi. People may ask why not simply add normal cold water and the reason is that we do not want to affect the high quality and the concentration of the mineral in the Onsen water,” said Saiaka Morita, a traditional dance performer at Kusatsu Onsen.
Kusatsu is located at an altitude of 1,200 metres above sea-level in the mountains and offers skiing in winter and hiking during the rest of the year, which is to be enjoyed in combination with refreshing hot spring bathing. (ANI)