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att. Travel - Shima Onsen
att. Travel - Shima Onsen
You are here: att.JAPAN > Travel Guide > Shima Onsen
att.JAPAN Issue 54, December 2010

Shima Onsen


Shima Onsen is located in northeast Gunma Prefecture, close to the Niigata Prefecture border, in the eastern part of the Joshinetsu-Kogen National Park. This spa town is surrounded by over 1,000-meter high mountains and next to the meandering Shima River. It abounds in nature: wild deer, waterfalls, flowing streams and great dams deep in the mountains. Shima Onsen's hot springs and nature were loved and appreciated by prominent writers and poets including Dazai Osamu and Yosano Akiko.

The history of Shima Onsen dates back to the end of 10th century. One day an oracle came to a pious warrior received in a dream. After he woke up and went the place of the hot springs gushing out from the earth according to the oracle. He called the hot springs Gomuso no Yu, "dreamt hot springs," then named this area Shima no Sato. This hot spring resort has over 40 hot spring sources, most of which gush out from the ground. The town is blessed with hot water that creates geothermal energy.

It is said that the hot spring water makes your skin smooth and beautiful. Furthermore, drinking hot spring water is said to be very good for the stomach. For more than 100 years, people have been coming to Shima Onsen to ease their pains. Drinking the hot spring waters is good for your stomach and will warm you from the inside. Why not try some hot spring water from fountains located around town?

Sekizen-kan is a Japanese style hotel on Ochiai Street with a history of over 300 years. The red bridge in front of the hotel creates a retro atmosphere. The classical hot spring scenery is enhanced by the tourists in yukata (cotton kimono) and geta (sandals). There are 37 Japanese style hotels in Shima Onsen. Each hotel offers fresh, healthy dishes prepared with local ingredients. The locally brewed sake (rice wine) tastes great, especially in the mountain air. The desserts baked with local apples are very popular, too.

The town is small and quiet because there are no traffic lights or noisy night spots. The beautiful nature with dramatic seasonal changes is very charming. Other tourist spots are Hinatami Yakushido Temple with its beautiful thatched roof, great waterfalls, and oketsu (holes created by stones and sand caught in the eddies of the river over thousands of years). It is nice to stroll around the impressively blue Lake Oku Shima. and take in the fresh greenery in spring or the autumn colors in fall. Shima Onsen Hot Spring Resort is perfect for a quiet retreat.

*Trekking paths to the falls are closed during winter.

Access 
By train/bus
1. From Tokyo to Takasaki by Joetsu or Nagano Shinkansen bullet train: 50 min, from Takasaki to Nakanojo by JR Agatsuma Line: 50 min, from Nakanojo to Shima Onsen by Kanetsu Kotsu bus: 40 min
2. From Tokyo (departing from Ueno) to Nakanojo by limited express train "Kusatsu": 2 h, from Nakanojo to Shima Onsen by Kanetsu Kotsu bus: 40 min

By highway bus
From Tokyo (departing from Tokyo Station Yaesu-dori Street) to Shima Onsen by direct highway bus "Shima Onsen-go": 3 h 30 min (two services a day in winter)

*Be careful of the icy roads if you plan to visit by private vehicles in winter.
Inquiries: Shima Onsen Kyokai TEL.0279-64-2321 / FAX.0279-64-2137

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