Vegetarian's Japan Guide

The Best Guide to Kusatsu Onsen’s Sainokawara Street

After having your fill at Kusatsu Onsen‘s symbol, Yubatake, how about taking a stroll along Sainokawara-dōri Street (西の河原通り) for some snacks, shopping, or even a plate of delicious food? The street that stretches from Yubatake to Sainokawara Park is Kusatsu Onsen’s main street. In addition to the shops and restaurants, it is also where you can enjoy traditional games, such as shooting at a traditional shooting booth!

A List of Shops and Restaurants on Sainokawara Street

Tip: There is a 2-Day Tour departing from Tokyo covering Kamikochi, Tateyama Kurobe Snow Wall, and Kusatsu Onsen. Refer to HERE for more information.

Kusatsu Onsen Pudding (草津温泉プリン)

Ⓒ 草津温泉プリン

Amongst the many restaurants and shops, one shop that is recommended to all vanilla pudding lovers is Kusatsu Onsen Pudding.

Apart from the vanilla beans imported from Madagascar, the handmade pudding sold there is mostly made from local ingredients, such as Gunma Prefecture‘s Haruna Milk (榛名牛乳).

A popular menu item at Kusatsu Onsen Pudding is Yubatake Pudding (湯畑プリン). Imagining Yubatake’s emerald green color, there is a melon cider jelly layer above the pudding. It is a dessert where you can enjoy the deliciousness of both pudding and jelly in one go.

Another pudding that is loved by many is the Yumomi Pudding (湯もみプリン). Caramel sauce is added to the pudding so that the color resembles the large wooden paddle used in the Yumomi performance!

Ⓒ 草津温泉プリン
Ⓒ 草津温泉プリン

But the most amazing pudding at Kusatsu Onsen Pudding has got to be the Nighttime Yubatake Pudding (Yoru no Yubatake Pudding, 夜の湯畑プリン) as the pudding’s color will change!

Nighttime Yubatake Pudding’s jelly contains Asian pigeonwings’s tea. So when lemon juice is added to the jelly, the green jelly turns purple, just like how Yubatake’s green becomes purple at night because of the lighting!

Ⓒ 草津温泉プリン

Tip: Return your pudding container and you will get 10 yen back!

Kusatsu Onsen Pudding’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • Kusatsu Onsen Pudding is open from 9 am to 6 pm.
  • The shop is around a 5-minute walk from Kusatsu Onsen Bus Terminal.

Terakoya Honpo (寺子屋本舗 草津店)

Close to Kusatsu Onsen Pudding, there is a Senbei shop. Senbei is Japanese for rice crackers. If you haven’t been to a Terakoya Honpo, it is time to visit the rice cracker maker!

Similar to other Senbei shops across the country, you can get freshly baked rice crackers from Terakoya Honpo. But in addition to the typical rectangular or round rice crackers, there are also skewers. While they might look like meat skewers due to their color, they are a type of rice cracker called Kushi Nure Okaki (串ぬれおかき).

How is Kushi Nure Okaki different from normal Okaki rice crackers? Well, they are wet, which is what “Nure” means. The rice crackers are dipped in soy sauce during the production process. This is why these rice crackers can be made into skewers as they have a soft and moist texture!

If you feel a bit thirsty after eating the rice crackers, remember to grab yourself a cup of tea. The Japanese tea served at Terakoya Honpo is free of charge!

One thing to note is that Kushi Nure Okaki or even any rice crackers sold in the shop may not be entirely vegetarian, depending on the flavours. The sauce used for seasoning may contain bonito broth. So you may want to check with the staff before purchasing!

Tip: If you run into communication issues, utilize the phrases in our article on Essential Japanese Travel Phrases for Vegetarians and Vegans!

The Menu Item Limited to Terakoya Honpo Kusatsu Shop

Other than the crackers, what is limited to the Kusatsu Onsen shop is Pinto Beans Soy Sauce Mochi (花豆しょうゆ餅). The mochi rice cake has a sweetened pinto bean attached to it. The pinto bean’s sweetness and the chewy mochi’s saltiness would balance magically well in your mouth.

For those who have tried Yubeshi (ゆべし), Pinto Beans Soy Sauce Mochi’s taste and texture would be relatively similar except but softer.

Terakoya Honpo’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • Terakoya Honpo Kusatsu Shop is open from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm.
  • The shop is around a 5-minute walk from Kusatsu Onsen Bus Terminal.

Matsumura Manjū (松むら饅頭)

Besides Honke Chichiya, another Manjū shop to try out is Matsumura Manjū. Apparently the shop that opened in 1945 was the first manjū maker in Kusatsu Onsen.

The thin manjū’s skin is sweetened with black sugar and the red bean paste is made from Hokkaidō’s premium red beans. The best thing is that it stays soft even after the buns are cold. So if you are after a traditional edible souvenir, visit Matsumura Manjū!

In addition, the red bean paste’s sugar level is reduced. While the manjū is healthier with less sugar, you might end up consuming more sugar because you are likely to finish two or even three manjūs in one go (´▽`*).

Important: The shelf life of the manjūs made by Matsumura Manjū is only four days as no preservative is added.

☛ It is possible that the manjūs are sold out by noon. You can reserve the manjūs with the shop in advance. Just remember to pick them up!
☛ If the manjūs are sold out at the main shop, you can try your luck at its branch, away from Kusatsu Onsen’s main street.
☛ Let the staff know you want to eat the manjū straightaway. They will likely give you the freshly made ones from the steamers (^_-)-☆.
☛ Check with your accommodation to see if Matsumura Manjū’s coupons are available.

Matsumura Manjū’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • Matsumura Manjū is open from 8 am to 5 pm from Friday to Monday.
    • Refer to the calendar on the official website HERE for the days that Matsumura Manjū is closed (marked in red or green).
  • The shop is around a 5-minute walk from Kusatsu Onsen Bus Terminal.

Mikuniya Soba (石臼挽蕎麦 三國家)

If you aren’t so strict with your vegetarian diet while traveling or are happy to bring a bottle of vegetarian dipping sauce with you, stop by Yutaki Street (湯滝通り) for Mikuniya. Its stone-ground buckwheat noodles are made with snow water from Mt. Kusatsu-Shirane (草津白根山系). After the buckwheat is grounded, the flour is left overnight before it is used to make soba noodles. Apparently these are the many secrets to the deliciousness of the noodles!

The special thing about Mikuniya is how the noodles are ordered. You can choose from 1 serving, 1.5 servings, or 2 servings of noodles. Normally, 1.5 servings are just about the right portion for an adult. But if you are really hungry, ordering 2 servings might be ideal.

If you prefer rice over soba noodles, rice bowls are also available. Just remember to ask the staff to replace non-vegetarian tempura with vegetable tempura.

Important: Mikuniya is a popular restaurant where a long queue is usually formed as soon as it opens. As it will close for the day when the ingredients run out, be there early!

Tip: If you like the free snack, Soba Karintō (そばかりんとう), that is served when you are seated, you can purchase more at the counter.
Karintō is a Japanese deep-fried brown sugar snack. Instead of wheat flour, the ones served at Mikuniya are made with buckwheat flour.

Mikuniya Soba Business Hours and Access Information

  • Mikuniya Soba is open daily except for Tuesdays from
    • 11 am to 2:45 pm
    • 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm
      • The last order is taken at 8 pm.
    • Refer to the calendar on the official website HERE for the days Mikuniya Soba is closed (marked in red).
  • The restaurant is around a 5-minute walk from Kusatsu Onsen Bus Terminal.

Yasuragitei (やすらぎ亭)

At Kusatsu Onsen, another popular restaurant to enjoy some delicious Maitake mushrooms is Yasuragitei. Different from Mikuniya, Yasuragitei is more like a family restaurant. But don’t mistake it for an average-quality restaurant. The handmade soba served at Yasuragitei is made from 90% buckwheat flour. Your mouth will be filled with the nice scent of buckwheat after the first bite!

The Maitake mushroom dishes at Yasuragitei are made with fresh Maitake mushrooms. The deep-fried Maitake mushroom tempura perfectly matches the refreshing soba noodles.

But just note the soba broth or dipping sauce isn’t vegetarian. So bring your vegetarian sauce if you are strict with your diet.

Tip: Remember to finish your meal with the free soba soup available in a teapot. You won’t be able to find too many places that serve such thick soba soup in Japan! (^_-)-☆.

Yasuragitei Business Hours and Access Information

  • Yasuragitei is open daily from 10:30 am to 9 pm.
  • The restaurant is around a 5-minute walk from Kusatsu Onsen Bus Terminal.

Yuagari Karinto (湯あがり かりんと)

For those seeking edible souvenirs, how about a bag of Karintō from Yuagari Karinto?

Karintō is a Japanese deep-fried dough cookie. Traditionally, the snack is seasoned with brown sugar, but nowadays there are a lot more flavors.

At Yuagari Karinto, not only are there 28 flavors of Karintō you can choose from, each pack of Karintō is packed with color bags with patterns found on traditional Yukata. So we are sure the recipient of your souvenir will love what you have bought them!

If you want to try something unique, how about a bag of Yasai Karintō (野菜かりんとう) with sweet potatoes, spinach, carrots, and other vegetables mixed in the dough?

While English notation isn’t available at Yuagari Karinto, there is a model for each of their Karintō, giving you some ideas of what is in those colorful bags. But if you want to know the type of flavors, kindly check with the staff on the day.

Yuagari Karinto’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • Yuagari Karinto is open from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm daily except Wednesdays.
  • The shop is around a 7-minute walk from Kusatsu Onsen Bus Terminal.

Kusatsu Glass Kura (草津ガラス蔵)


Another souvenir shop on Sainokawara-dōri Street is Kusatsu Glass Kura. It is a great place to shop for more delicate souvenirs of higher value.

If you feel that the pre-made items aren’t special enough, you can also book a session with them to make your glass bead (とんぼ玉) or blown glass.

Kusatsu Glass Kura has three buildings. You can find tableware such as glasses, plates, and vases at Building 1 (1号館). Amongst the glassware on the shelf, what you will want to pay attention to is the type of glassware unique to Kusatsu Onsen. The type of glassware known as Kusatsu Onsen Glass (草津温泉硝子) is made to replicate the emerald green colored Yubatake. It is almost as if the glassware is made of solidified hot springs!

The Workshops at Kusatsu Glass Kura

In addition to shopping, blown glass workshops are held at Building 1 for you to make your unique vase or tea cups.

Building 2 (2号館) is where Kusatsu Glass Kura sells glass bead accessories as well as is the venue of glass bead workshops. The workshop usually only takes around 15 to 20 minutes to complete. You can choose your colors and pay extra to make the glass bead you just made into an accessory.

Compared to the blown glass worship, the glass bead workshop is easier and cheaper (2,200 yen to 3,300 yen vs 1,980 yen to 2,530 yen).

If you are seeking accessories made with glass, head to Building 3 (3号館). You will be amazed by the range of gorgeous necklaces and earrings on the shelf!

Tip: As the workshops are really popular, it is best to reserve your spot by calling +81-279-88-0050.

☛ The above-mentioned workshops are currently suspended due to COVID-19.
☛ You have to be either able to understand Japanese or have an interpreter to participate in the workshop for your safety. Also, children under ten years old are not allowed to join the workshop.
☛ Please allow around 40 minutes for your glass bead to cool down after the workshop. Just remember to return to Kusatsu Glass Kura to pick your masterpiece up!

Kusatsu Glass Kura’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • Kusatsu Glass Kura is open daily from 9 am to 6 pm daily.
  • The shop is around an 8-minute walk from Kusatsu Onsen Bus Terminal.

Discover Other Attractions in Kusatsu Onsen

Click the photo for more information about Kusatsu Onsen’s attractions!

Strolling on Kusatsu Onsen’s main street obviously won’t be the only thing you want to do in Kusatsu Onsen because the hot spring town has much more to offer. Whether it is bathing in the traditional way or outdoor activities, such as obstacle courses and skiing, you surely won’t be bored at Kusatsu Onsen!

For more information, refer to our article on Kusatsu Onsen (=゚ω゚)ノ.