Yubatake (湯畑) is Kusatsu Onsen‘s landmark. The spot where more than 4,000 liter of hot springs gushes out per minute becomes like a field of hot springs, which is why the locals named it Yubatake. In addition, it is a hot spring field where the sulfer can be “harvested”!
Regarding the amount of onsen flowing out of the spring source, Yubatake at Kusatsu Onsen proudly claimed to be the highest in the country. You probably won’t be able to find another spot in the world with such an area covered by hot springs!
So remember to take a walk on the promenade around Yubatake to examine this rare scene. It will only take around 15 minutes (^_-)-☆.
Especially around the hot spring waterfall, you might notice something in bright green that covers the stone surface of Yubatake. This type of red algae called Cyanidiophyceae inhabits acid hot springs between ph1.0 to 3.0 and a temperature between 35 to 55 degrees.
As they are rather rare, how about trying to spot them during your time at Kusatsu Onsen? You might even be able to find it at your ryokan!
The Name Plaques on Yubatake’s Handrail Pillars
As you walk around Yubatake, you will also notice many names are curved on the black plaque affixed to the handrail pillars (in both Japanese and English). They are historical figures who have contributed to Kusatsu Onsen’s development or have visited Kusatsu Onsen in the past. From Minamoto no Yoritomo (the guy who started Kamakura shogunate), Gyōki (a highly regarded monk who founded Kusatsu Onsen’s guardian temple), to Japan’s former prime ministers, the name plaques are Kusatsu Onsen’s way to broadcast its popularity.
Amongst the historical figures, one of them didn’t exist in real life. The name Lucius Modestus (ルシウス・モデストゥス) was actually based on the Japanese manga Thermae Romae (テルマエ・ロマエ). As the manga, which the ancient Roman architect time-slipped to Kusatsu Onsen, was made into a live-action film and anime series and even won a few awards, the main character’s name was recognized as the 101st historical figure of Kusatsu Onsen (´▽｀*).
Yubatake at Night
Due to the hot spring’s high temperature, Yubatake is always covered by white steam. So after sunset until midnight, Yubatake is lit up with colored lighting to give visitors something to look forward to at night.
During the winter, when an illuminated Christmas tree is placed, the spot becomes even more beautiful at night. Sitting at one of the free foot spas is the best way to adore Yubatake, especially after a whole day of exploration (^_-)-☆.
The Yudoi in Yubatake
Furthermore, if you look closely, you should be able to see seven long wooden channels in Yubatake. These channels are called Yudoi (湯樋). The size of the Yudoi is 40m x 45cm (W) x 18cm (H).
As the hot spring from the spring source is between 50 to 90 degrees, the channels are set up as a cooling device to cool down the onsen. At the same time, Yunohana (湯の花), the mineral from hot springs (sulphur in this case) that is attached to the channels, can be deposited and collected from the channels.
The history of collecting Yunohana dates back to the mid-Edo period (around 1790). Nowadays, it is collected from Yudoi once every two months. As the amount of Yunohana that can be collected per year is limited, how about getting one bottle of Yunohana from the shops as a souvenir? The Yunohana in the container is naturally dried in the town’s factory. If you do purchase one, remember to check with the staff as to how to use it safely as it contains strong acid.
If you are just in time for the yearly Yunohana Collection Activity, we highly recommend participating in the event!
Discover Other Attractions in Kusatsu Onsen
Once you have your fill from observing the uniqueness of Yubatake, it is time to discover what other things Kusatsu Onsen has to offer. Whether it is hot spring pools, soba noodles, traditional sweets or outdoor activities, such as obstacle courses and skiing, we can guarantee that you won’t be bored during your time at Kusatsu Onsen!
For more information, refer to our article on Kusatsu Onsen (=ﾟωﾟ)ﾉ.