Shima Onsen Guide

Shima Onsen is an Onsen resort located in Nakanojo Town, Gunma Prefecture.

It is known as one of the leading Onsen resorts in Gunma Prefecture, along with Ikaho Onsen and Kusatsu Onsen.

Shima Onsen has a long history, dating back to the 700s. It is said that the warlords who were active at that time bathed in Shima Onsen, and it has been loved by people for a long time.

There are other episodes that originated from the legend that the hot water of Shima Onsen cures 40,000 illnesses.

Shima Onsen is a sodium-calcium-chloride spring and a sulfate spring, and has a variety of beneficial effects, such as cuts, sensitivity to cold, and neuralgia. When drunk, it is also effective against gastrointestinal ailments, and is one of the “top three Onsens for gastrointestinal ailments in Japan” along with Togatta Onsen in Miyagi Prefecture and Yudaira Onsen in Kyushu.

Shima Onsen is also known for its effectiveness in toning rough skin. The acidic waters of Kusatsu Onsen, also in Gunma Prefecture, have been used to cure illnesses, but they can be very irritating and rough on the skin.

Shima Onsen is also known as the finishing touch to the Kusatsu Onsen, conditioning the skin after it has been stimulated by the hot-spring cure.

Shima Onsen is not only good for its attractive, skin-conditioning spring water.

The beautiful natural surroundings allow visitors to enjoy the elegant scenery as well as the hot springs. There is also a great variety of outdoor activities that take advantage of this abundant nature.

Canoeing, kayaking, hiking, and many other experiences are available in the onsen area, making it a great place for outdoor enthusiasts.

From the serenity of nature to the hot springs and outdoor activities, Shima Onsen is a place where you can enjoy your trip to the fullest.

Get to know Shima Onsen

Area guide

Shima Onsen offers a relaxing atmosphere with a touch of old-fashioned charm.

The Onsen resort town, where you can stroll leisurely, is lined with inns, restaurants, and souvenir shops, where you can experience the warmth of the local residents.

There are many long-established onsen ryokan in Shima Onsen, and the Sekizenkan, which has been in existence for over 300 years, is particularly famous and popular among tourists. Sekizenkan is said to be one of the models for Studio Ghibli's animated film “Spirited Away” and has been featured in the Japanese media.

On the other hand, if you move your eyes to the center of the Onsen resort, you will find the beautiful natural scenery of the Shima River flowing through the area.

The water quality of the Shima River is very good, and the crystal clear water flows with the sound of a murmuring stream. Visitors can enjoy the richness of nature by strolling around the area while listening to the soothing sound of the river.

Shima Onsen is located in the mountains, so it is a place where you can enjoy the scenery of the four seasons. In spring, you can enjoy the cherry blossoms, and in autumn, the mountains are brightly colored with autumn leaves.

A short distance away from Shima Onsen, “Shima Lake,” with its extremely beautiful cobalt blue color, comes into view. The reflection of the natural scenery on the blue surface of Lake Shima is truly spectacular.

From the elegant Onsen town to the abundant nature, Shima Onsen is a town where you can truly feel at ease.


Shima Onsen is located in Nakanojo Town, Gunma Prefecture.

Shima Onsen is located in the mountains of Nakanojo Town, and is conveniently accessible by train or bus.

There are buses that go directly to Shima Onsen from Tokyo Station or Haneda Airport, which can be smoothly accessed in about 5 hours. The buses that go directly to Shima Onsen are operated by Kan-Etsu Kotsu Co.

The quickest access from the Tokyo area is to take the Joetsu Shinkansen to Takasaki Station, then transfer to a train to Nakanojo Station. After arriving at Nakanojo Station, take a cab, and you can reach Shima Onsen in about two hours.

There are also various other ways to reach Shima Onsen, such as by car.

From Tokyo

<Bus> Haneda Airport Garden Bus Terminal → Shima Onsen (about 5 hours and 10 minutes)
<Shinkansen bullet train >> Tokyo Station→Takasaki Station→JR Joetsu Line→ Shibukawa Station→JR Azuma Line→ Nakanojo Station→Taxi >> Shima Onsen (about 2 hours)

From Nagoya

<Shinkansen: Nagoya Station→Tokyo Station→Train: Omiya Station→Takasaki Station→Nakanojo Station→Bus: Kirinokidaira→On foot: Shima Onsen (about 5 hours and 20 minutes)

From Osaka

<Shinkansen>Shin-Osaka Station→Tokyo Station→Shinkansen→Takasaki Station→Train→Nakanojo Station→Bus→Kirinokidaira→On foot→Shima Onsen (about 5 hours and 20 minutes)

From Sendai

<Shinkansen>Sendai Station→Omiya Station→Train>Takasaki Station→Nakanojo Station→Bus>Kirinokidaira→On foot>Shima Onsen (about 4 hours and 10 minutes)

Water quality

Shima Onsen is known for its ability to condition rough skin and is designated as a “National Recreational Onsen Resort” among the many Onsen resorts in Japan, of which there are less than 100.

National Recreational Onsen Areas are designated by the government as healthy recreational areas where the use of Onsens can be expected to have a positive effect.

After a therapeutic bath in Kusatsu Onsen, which is known for its strong acidic waters, Shima Onsen has been used as a finishing touch to the treatment because of its skin moisturizing and toning effects.

Shima Onsen has 42 sources of sodium calcium chloride and sulfate spring water. The springs are said to be good for cuts and neuralgia, and many people still use them today to heal their bodies.

The main benefits include cuts, neuralgia, sensitivity to cold, depression, dry skin, and chronic joint pain.

It is also believed that the hot water from Shima Onsen is good for you if you drink it. Along with Gaga Onsen in Miyagi Prefecture and Yunohira Onsen in Oita Prefecture, Shima Onsen is known as one of the “Three Best Onsens for Gastrointestinal Diseases” in Japan.

Drinking the hot water from Shima Onsen is good for the stomach and can also help with constipation.

There are places in the Onsen resort and at inns where you can drink the Onsen water, and it has been enjoyed along with bathing.

Why not enjoy the mineral-rich Onsen water when you visit Shima Onsen?


Shima Onsen has a very long history and has been loved by many people since ancient times.

The origin of Shima Onsen dates back to the Heian period (794-1185). A famous military commander active at the time heard a divine oracle and awoke from a dream to find an Onsen gushing before his eyes. In the dream, he is told that God is impressed by the sutra read by the warlord and will give him an Onsen that will cure Shima's illness.

The name Shima Onsen is said to derive from this legend.

The opening of an Onsen resort in the mid-1500s A.D. led to the spread of Shima Onsen's fame. The reputation of Shima Onsen gradually spread, and people from various areas, including Gunma Prefecture, began to visit the area for Onsen cures.

The Shima Onsen developed after an Onsen association was formed around 1888, and roads were built to make it easier for people to come and go. The town still retains the atmosphere of the old days, and the streets are still somewhat relaxing.

Within the Onsen resort area is the Hinatami Yakushido, where the legend of Shima's Onsen origins can be traced back in history. Designated as a National Important Cultural Property, the hall enshrines a statue of the Yakushi Nyorai (Medicine Buddha).

Even today, the Hinatami Yakushido is a place where visitors to the Onsen continue to visit and worship before soaking in Shima Onsen.