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Drive from Tokyo to Kusatsu

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Drive from Tokyo to Kusatsu

My husband, baby and I will be in Japan in August. We plan to go to Kusatsu onsen for 2 nights coming from and returning to Tokyo. After looking at train options, I was considering renting a car and driving. Would driving be a good option? Will it be difficul,t seeing that we don't know the language? Hoping to save some time. Thank you for your input!

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Illinois
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1. Re: Drive from Tokyo to Kusatsu

No need to drive and you won't save time - http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e7403.html

Tokyo, Japan
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2. Re: Drive from Tokyo to Kusatsu

I just went to Kusatsu Onsen on Wednesday & Thursday (1 night at Ryokan called Takamatsu) last week by car from Tokyo. Because of the mid week, there wasn't any traffic jam on highways; it was about 180 km drive, took 4 hours with 1 stop at rest area.

The car GPS is equipped and free of charge in Japan. (It's very different system and I don't know why US car rentals charge it ). I am not sure exactly, but I was told that the GPS has an English guidance function. The driving routes are severals; and they are not difficult/complicated. And there isn't a highway exit that is closed Kusatsu town; so you need to drive the simple local roads after highway. Road signs has English as well.

The route via Karuizawa and Onioshi-dashi-en (鬼押し出し園) is scenic. You change to drive Joshin Etsu highway at a junction on Kan Etsu highway.

As you stay for 2 nights in summer season, I highly suggest you to go further to Kusatsu-Shirane mountain (草津白根山). Then if you have time, more drive to Shibu area at Shiga Kogen as a day trip. JAF decided the road as a Japan's scenic by-ways. I did hiking at Mt. Kusatsu-Shirane for seeing Komakusa wildflowers.

http://www.kirara.ne.jp/sawayaka-kaido/

www.princehotels.co.jp/amuse/onioshidashi/

There are some driving videos at YouTube about Kusatu-Shirane road.

I stopped a Sake brewery place/souvenir shop on the way back, it is at the local road on the way to Shibukawa and Maebashi highway entrances/exits on Kan Etsu highway route.

If you go there at Obon week, don't drive highway; you have a super heavy traffic jams.

About highway system in Japan:

http://en.driveplaza.com

Tokyo, Japan
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3. Re: Drive from Tokyo to Kusatsu

You don't need to book a car from Orix; but I think the website has good English information about driving.

…orix.co.jp/eng/userguide/driving_japan.html

http://car.orix.co.jp/eng/

Tokyo and California
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for Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Shinjuku, Japan
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4. Re: Drive from Tokyo to Kusatsu

I usually don't recommend driving in Japan, but Kusatsu is a good place to go around by car. There are many beautiful spots mentioned above that are almost impossible to get to by public transport. Maybe you can rent a car in Takasaki and head to Kusatsu. I lived in Kusatsu for 3 months one summer and never had a hot day there. It's a great place to escape from the heat in August.

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