Vegetarian's Japan Guide

The Attractions Worthwhile Visiting Around Ikaho Onsen

Ikaho Onsen‘s township is quite compact. If you have two days allocated to the hot spring town, there are a couple more attractions nearby that you can consider visiting. Most of these scenic and unique spots can be reached by bus!

A List of Attractions Around Ikaho Onsen

Ikaho Forest Park (伊香保森林公園)

For nature lovers, how about venturing from Uenoyama Park to Ikaho Forest Park for more hiking activities in the forest? It is a great place to enjoy the forest trails while spotting wild birds. From May to October, various flowers can be adored in the park. The fall foliage season from late October to mid-November is obviously another time tourists gather in this part of Ikaho Town!

The park has five hiking courses, pavilions, and resting areas if you need a break. On a hot summer day, the cool air blowing in the two wind caves created by Mt. Haruna‘s volcanic activities is the perfect way to escape the heat. Because of the low temperature, the caves were used to store silkworm eggs in the good old days.

For Ikaho Forest Park’s hiking courses, you can refer to the park’s official website HERE (Japanese only). Depending on which course you choose, it may take anywhere from an hour to 3.5 hours to complete.

After plenty of exercise, you can soak in Ikaho Onsen‘s hot spring before departing for your next destination!

While in Japanese only, HERE is Ikaho Forest Park’s map.

Important: Especially during the summer, remember to apply insect repellent. Hiking sticks are also recommended.

If you plan to visit Ikaho Forest Park by car, the entrance is beyond Takane Observation Deck on Prefectural Road 33 towards Lake Haruna.

Please turn left when you see the directory sign of Gunma Sports Complex Ikaho Rink (伊香保リンク).

Shibukawa City Multipurpose Park (渋川市総合公園)

On the way to Mizusawa-dera Temple, you can stop by Shibukawa City Multipurpose Park. The 57.2-hectare park is one of the city’s biggest landmarks and top cherry blossom hydrangea destinations. In addition to various sports fields, the spacious park also has a camping ground. Located at 600 meters, Shibukawa City Multipurpose Park also offers magnificent mountain scenery and night views!

When the 3,000 Yoshino cherry blossoms bloom in early April, this is when Shibukawa Cherry Blossom Festival (しぶかわ桜まつり) is held. In addition to various events during the day, the trees are illuminated from 6 pm to 9 pm when the flowers are blooming.

In summer, you can also adore water lilies at the park.

Tip: Shibukawa City Multipurpose Park’s hydrangea season is from late June to mid-July.

How to Get to Shibukawa City Multipurpose Park

  • If you plan to take a bus from JR Shibusawa Station (渋川駅), get off at Bukkōzan-mae (佛光山前).
    • The bus trip takes around 25 minutes.
    • The services are limited.

Bukkōsan Housui-ji Temple (佛光山 法水寺)

If you are interested in adding some traditional Chinese architectural elements to your itinerary, Bukkōsan Housui-ji, close to Shibukawa City Multipurpose Park, would be a good choice. You will certainly be amazed by the spectacular mountainous view of Mt. Akagi (赤城山) and the surrounding mountain ranges from the temple.

For more information, refer to our article on Bukkōsan Housui-ji.

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Mizusawa Temple (水澤寺)

The Mizusawa area is known for its delicious Mizusawa udon and Mizusawa Temple. The udon is rated one of the Top Three Udons in Japan.

The temple, which has a 1,300-year history, is filled with amazingly built architecture and is a great cherry blossom and autumn foliage spot.

Refer to our Mizusawa Temple article for more information!

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Click the photo for more information about Mizusawa Temple!

Ankodō (庵古堂)

Traveling south from Mizusawa Temple, Ankodō is a facility where you can make udon noodles and can taste Gunma Prefecture‘s local dish, Yaki Manjū (焼きまんじゅう). The manjū bun skewers grilled with specially made miso paste applied smell so appetizing that it would be hard to resist not ordering a plate!

You can also make your own Yaki Manjū by participating in a workshop. Learning papercutting and shiitake mushroom-picking at Ankodō are also possible.

At Ankodō’s restaurant, Mizusawa udon can be served in an all-you-can-eat style. You can also add Maitake mushroom tempura for just 1,200 yen. But please note that the dipping sauce contains seafood extract.

Important: All activities at Ankodō require a reservation. Please email [email protected] to reserve.

Ankodō’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • Ankodō is open from 9 am to 3 pm.
    • The restaurant is open from 11 am to 2 pm.
  • From JR Takasaki Station (高崎駅) or JR Shibusawa Station (渋川駅), you can take a bus and get off at Tonotsuji (塔の辻). Ankodō is then a 5-minute walk.

Tip: Print THIS COUPON out for discounts and perks at Ankodō.

Ikaho Toy, Doll and Car Museum (伊香保 おもちゃと人形 自動車博物館)

Another spot you can visit not far from Ikaho Onsen is the Ikaho Toy, Doll and Car Museum. It’s not just a place for exhibiting toys, dolls, and cars, but it also focuses on Shōwa Retro (昭和レトロ), which means most of the exhibits are from the mid to late 20th century!

Even if you have no idea what Japan’s Shōwa period (1926 to 1989) was like, we think you will enjoy your time at the museum. In fact, many international tourists visit Gunma Prefecture for the Ikaho Toy, Doll and Car Museum!

Amongst the few Shōwa retro-themed corners, you will encounter a retro townscape that paints a picture of the appearance of the shopping arcade. The cheap Japanese snacks look so real that you want to eat them!

On the second floor, the shopfront of Fujihara Tofu Shop (藤原とうふ店) is recreated. This spot will excite any fans of the Japanese street racing manga Initial D (頭文字D). The tofu shop also exists in real life, although it had since closed down due to zoning. The family kept a couple of things related to the shop, including the signboard, which enabled the museum to reproduce the shopfront.

If you are a car enthusiast, you will love the antique cars on the second and third floors.

Moreover, the Ikaho Toy, Doll, and Car Museum has an antique teddy bear museum, a doll and toy corner, and a courtyard filled with movie posters from the 20th century.

If you have some time to spare, enjoy a drink at the museum’s Italian-style cafe. Alcohol is included in the menu!

Inside the museum’s shop, there are cheap snacks and retro-style toys available for you to purchase and take home.

Ikaho Toy, Doll and Car Museum’s Opening Hours, Admission Fees, and Access Information

  • Ikaho Toy, Doll and Car Museum is open from 9 am to 6 pm.
    • From November to the 24th of April, it closes early at 5 pm.
    • The last admission is taken 45 minutes before closing.
  • The admission fee is:
    • 1,300 yen for adults
    • 900 yen for high school students
    • 450 yen for children from 4 years old to elementary school students
  • From JR Takasaki Station (高崎駅) or JR Shibusawa Station (渋川駅), you can take a bus and get off at Uenohara (上野原).

Tips:
☛ Show This Coupon for a 100 yen discount on the admission fee.
☛ Many tourists would spend around an hour or two hours at the Ikaho Toy, Doll, and Car Museum.

Kabiya (鹿火屋)

Just around 250 meters from Ikaho Toy, Doll and Car Museum, Kabiya is a cafe you will want to stop by. The old thatched roof house and the water mill will make you feel as if you have traveled back in time to the Edo period.

The interior of Kabiya shares the same retro style as its exterior. Aside from the traditional hearth commonly found in Japan’s traditional houses, a part of the cafe’s floor is an earthen floor, just like the commoners’ houses from a few centuries ago. Even lighting is hardly used!

Reinforcing the traditional setting, the dishes on the menu are also traditional Japanese snacks, including grilled taro potato skewers dressed with sweet miso paste (いも串), kuzu mochi with brown sugar syrup, and amazake (sweet sake made from fermented rice).

The taro potato skewers are highly recommended if you are unsure what to order. Because the area’s soil contains volcanic ashes, taro potatoes grown there are delicious!

Tip: Kabiya’s tea is self-service.

Fun facts:
☛ While the house looks to be hundreds of years old, Kabiya was actually only opened in 1966.
☛ Kabiya was the name given to the small hut where bonfires would produce an unpleasant smell to keep the wild animals away. In the past, an embarkment of around 1km existed to keep the wild boars from destroying the crop fields. Thus, the owner named his cafe Kabiya.

Kabiya’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • Kabiya is open from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm.
  • It is a 2-minute walk from the bus stop, Uenohara.

Chikyūya Bakery and Cafe (地球屋パン工房)

Ⓒ 地球屋パン工房

A 5-minute drive from Ikaho Toy, Doll and Car Museum, Chikyūya is a bakery that resembles the bakeries you see or hear in fairytales. All the baked goods there are made using freshly made butter and homegrown natural yeast. No eggs or additives are used either. There are also a couple of vegan breads available!

If you are unsure as to what to order, the miso-flavored Okara Pan (おからパン) is recommended. It is basically a vegan bread roll with sweet and salty miso paste in the middle. If you don’t mind dairy, you can try the Kurumi Toast (くるみ食パン) or Salt Butter Roll (塩バターパン).

Ⓒ 地球屋パン工房

If you have some time to spare, dine at Chikyūya’s cafe! From 7 o’clock in the morning, freshly baked toast is served there. Aside from plain toast slices, there are flavored toasts such as red bean and raisin toast slices available! And the best thing is that you can order as many slices of toast as you want! In fact, the staff might come around and leave another basket of toast before you even ask for it (´▽`*).

Coffee can be refilled once – free of charge. The 3rd cup will only cost 100 yen!

From 10 am onwards, order a Tsukepan Set (つけパンセット) and enjoy the bread with a cup of soup.

Apart from a variety of bread, homemade jams of different flavors are also available for purchase on the shelf. So how about grabbing your favorite flavor and some bread rolls or toast for breakfast the next day?

Tip: If you are vegan or vegetarian, please inform Chikyūya by filling out their Web Form beforehand to ensure a smooth visit. They can replace the toast with vegan bread. Remember to let the staff know you are vegan/vegetarian when you order.

Chikyūya’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • Chikyūya is open from 7 am to 5 pm.
  • From JR Shibusawa Station, it is around a 15 to 20-minute drive.

Chikyuya Haruna Glass (地球屋ハルナグラス)

In addition to its bakery, Chikyuya also has a workshop. Not only can you purchase a wide range of decors, porcelain, and accessories, but there are around 40 different handicraft activities you can participate! For the ones that don’t require a reservation, it will only take approximately 30 minutes to complete. So how about spending some time to create something memorable during your visit to Ikaho?

The activities are also suitable for young children, making the workshops the perfect place to stop by if you are on a family trip. And they can also accommodate international tourists who don’t speak Japanese.

Remember to make a reservation if you want to get your hands on making more complicated handicrafts, such as traditional hanging decorations, hair accessories, and dolls.

Refer to HERE for a list of workshops offered by Chikyuya Haruna Glass. Those on the left do not require a reservation.

  • The last admission for the workshops that do not require a reservation is at 3 pm.
  • You can enquire by emailing [email protected].

Chikyuya Haruna Glass’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • Chikyuya Haruna Glass is open from 10 am to 4 pm.
  • It is located right next to Chikyuya Bread Workshop.

Nagamine Park (長峰公園)

On the way to Lake Haruna from Ikaho Onsen, stop by Nagamine Park for the observatory deck. It is where you can overlook Ikaho Onsen Town.

From mid to late May, take a walk around the park to adore the blooming azalea! In fact, a part of the trees form an azalea tunnel along the promenade!

Please note that the azalea season will peak earlier if the weather prematurely becomes warmer.

Tip: To overlook Ikaho Onsen, it is best to park close to the observation deck instead of following the directory sign to the car park.

  • If you plan to take a bus from Ikaho Onsen or Lake Ikaho, get off at Nagamine Kōen-mae (長峰公園前).

Takane Observation Deck (高根展望台)

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The next observation deck from Ikaho Onsen to Lake Haruna is the Takane Observation Deck at the side of Prefectural Highway 33. With an altitude of 1,029 meters, it offers a better view of Ikaho Onsen and the mountains where Kusatsu Onsen, Manza Onsen, and even Nikkō are located.

If you are traveling by car, you can also visit the Takane Observation Deck for its night views or admire the sunrise!

To the fans of Initial D (Japanese street racing manga series), Takane Observation Deck appears in one of the scenes in the manga!

While you can also reach the observation deck by taking a bus and then getting off at Ikaho Shinrin Shizen Kōen-mae (伊香保森林自然公園前), it is much easier if you have access to a car. That way, you can also visit the stunning Lake Haruna!

Lake Haruna (榛名湖) and Mt. Haruna (榛名山)

Click the photo for more information about Lake Haruna and Mt. Haruna!

About 5km southwest of Ikaho Onsen, the Haruna area is where many tourists would venture out to when they visit the hot spring town. The area is filled with stunning nature suitable for various outdoor activities and a shrine with more than 1,400 years of history. On the shore of Lake Haruna, there are campgrounds, sightseeing boat docks, and a ropeway, giving you various options and activities to enjoy the stunning lake. Rental bicycles are available too!

For more information, refer to our Mt. Haruna and Lake Haruna article!

Haruna Shrine (榛名神社)

On the southwest of Lake Haruna, Haruna Shrine has been looking after the region since the late 6th century. The 30-minute walk on the approach from the torii gate to the main worship hall is so mysterious that it was said that some sort of sacred power can be gained just by taking the short journey. This is especially true when you walk past the Seven Lucky Gods (七福神).

Because of its long history, most of the architecture in Haruna Shrine’s precinct are National Important Cultural Properties. Even a lantern at the side of the approach has its own story!

For more information, refer to our Haruna Shrine article.

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