Category Archives: Shima Onsen

Winter in Japan: Open-air Onsen, Scenic Snowscapes, Skiing and More!


As we’ve written before on our blog (see links below), the Japanese take pride in the distinct charm of each of the four seasons.

The cherry blossoms of spring and the dazzling autumn leaves, the electrifying buzz of the cicadas in summer and the calm, sheer white snow of winter beckoning you to come play!

Autumn Leaves

The winter season is upon us now, so you may be asking yourself: what is there to do here in Japan? Well, let us give you just a few ideas!

In winter, you can enjoy snowy landscapes stretching over a wide range in Japan, from Hokkaido in the far north to the more central Northern Kanto where Shima Onsen and our Kashiwaya Ryokan are located. Although it depends on the conditions in each region, generally the snow season is from December until March.

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Nakanojo Biennale , Contemporary Art Exhibition

Nakanojo biennale

Nakanojo biennale

Nakanojo Biennale is a big contemporary art festival held once in two years at Shima Onsen and it’s around town, Nakanojo with a theme of “Celebration of Onsen + Home + Art.”

Pictures, sculptures, and photos are exhibited at everywhere at Shima Onsen town and Nakanojo town, such as no longer used old wooden school buildings.

In addition, there are various workshops and performances are held during the period.

In 2017, 154 groups of artists will be invited from September 9 to October 9.

Sawatari Onsen Art

It will require about three days and two nights to move by a car and enjoy thoroughly the arts widely exhibited at the city of around Nakanojo Station, onsen town of Shima Onsen and Sawatari Onsen, Kuni and Isama districts, which have been certified as the most beautiful villages in Japan.

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Dinner Menu for Winter is now available.

There are lots of delicious vegetables in Gunma.

Including those vegetables, lots of prefecture’s and winter ingredients are combined, such as Gunma Ueno village pork & boar, Sakekasu of Kimusume, Okkirikomi.

Japanese Sake based plum liquor

2. Kashiwaya Original dish
Konnyaku & Hanamame

3. Small bowl
Walnut Tofu with soy sauce paste

4. Grilled dish (served later)
Grilled duck and Ebiimo taro with Jyukkoku Miso and magnolia leaf

5. Center Plate
Shima Onsen grill of seasonal vegetables with Kimusume Sakekasu(Sake lees) dip

6. Boiled Dish
Yuba and shrimp steamed bun,served with garlandchrysanthemum

7. Hot pot
Okkirikomi style hot-pot with Inobuta and Gunma Vegetables

8.Small dish
Monkfish liver steamed with sake

9. Boiled rice
Rice with Maitake mushroom

10. Soup (served later)
Japanese dashi soup with Spanish mackerel Manju

11. Pickled Vegetables

12. Dessert
Tsumagoi Yogurt Mousse, Wasanbon lusk and Rose wine flavored berry Sauce

Torioi Matsuri (Bird Catcher Festival) and Dondo Fire Festival

Torioi Matsuri

There are some traditional festivals that have spread around at Shima Onsen and around Nakanojo.

As for them, I will introduce at this blog gradually.

Today, I will write about “Torioi Matsuri” (Bird Catcher Festival) and ” Dondo Fire Festival “.

Torioi Matsuri (Bird Catcher Festival)

Torioi Matsuri is the biggest festival in this area which is held every year on January 14th mainly in the shopping district around Nakanojo station in 20 minutes by a car and bus from Shima onsen.

It is a heroic festival, where many big drum floats come out and young people walk around while making cheerful sound.

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Drive trip in a car. Watch out road closures during winter.

Drive in Winter

In my previous blog, I wrote an article to recommend using a rental car for traveling areas close to airports and major cities, such as onsen near Tokyo.

By using a rental car, you can travel more freely at the destination suburbs.

Gradually more and more foreign customers also visit our Shima Onsen Kashiwaya Ryokan by rental cars.

For such customers, watch road closures information during winter.

Our Shima Onsen is located in Gunma, which is next to Shibu-Yudanaka Onsen in Nagano famous with snow monkeys, Tochigi with Nikko, Niigata with Naeba Ski Resort and so on.

The boundaries between those prefectures often pass through mountain roads.

In addition, some of main roads are closed during winter due to snow.

Kashiwaya winter scene

Also on the other day, a customer tried to visit us by a rental car from Nagano side.

But he had to take significant detour as the planned road was closed during winter.

Since this kind of information is hardly transmitted to customers overseas, it will be a sudden problem when they try to visit us with GPS and maps.

Although you can obtain information in Japanese through Japan Road Traffic Information Center, it seems that they do not transmit the information in English.

The winter road closures, which seem to be related to customers to Shima Onsen, are the following two sectors.

Route 292, From mid-November to late April
It is a road, which passes from Shibu-Yudanaka Onsen in Nagano famous with snow monkeys to Kusatsu Onsen in Gunma, through Shiga Kogen.

Route 120, From late December to late April
It is a road, which passes from Nikko in Tochigi with Nikko to Katashina in Gunma, through Konsei Toge.

If you’re planning to drive to snowy places during winter, obtain winter road closure information in advance and act with spare time, such as by inquiring to hotels and ryokan you are planning to stay.

Related article:
Let’s go to Shima Onsen by a rental car! You’ll have more fun!
“ETC Card” is essential when using a rental car in Japan

If you interested in Japanese style Onsen, Please click here
Shima Onsen Kashiwaya Ryokan >


Autumn leaves. The Japanese natural highlights, along with cherry-blossom viewing

Autumn leaves

Oku-shima area

Japan has distinctive four seasons of spring, summer, fall and winter.

In addition, Japanese people have been strongly rooted to cherish the change of seasons.

It can be shown in Kigo of Haiku.

There is a way to express seasons, called “24 Seasons,” which has divided the four seasons further into 24 seasons.

We are really enjoying the change of seasons.

Although we can enjoy spring, summer, fall, and winter in Japan, among them, the highlights are cherry blossom viewing in spring and autumn leaves in fall.

Autumn leave season is a popular tourism season for both customers from overseas and from Japan, as well as cherry blossom season in spring.

The best season of autumn leaves starts from around mid-September at high altitude places and Hokkaido.
In Kyushu, you can enjoy it until mid-December.

Ochiai street

Shima Gawa river

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Shima Blue is the treasure of Shima Onsen, which we are proud of in the world

Shima Blue at Okushima lake

As you can know because it is inside Joshinetsu Kogen National Park, Shima Onsen is the treasure box with rich nature.

In addition, among the nature at Shima Onsen, we are proud of the color of the water of Shima Gawa River the most. We call it “Shima Blue.”

We cannot expressed it in words. Because it is amazing blue that can be seen only here, please visit it once.

Shima blue

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Kashiwaya Cafe is a cafe at Shima Onsen Resort

Kashiwaya Cafe
We not only run Kashiwaya Ryokan but also Kashiwaya Cafe at Shima Onsen Resort.

Kashiwaya Cafe is located about the center of Shima Onsen resort.

There are “Shimamura” of baked buns, “Workshop Mugendai (infinity)” where you can experience pottery, “Shionoyu Drinking Onsen Station” where you can enjoy drinking Onsen, ATM, free public parking, and so on, are around it.

At Kashiwaya Cafe, we provide Italian style coffee, using LAVAZZA beans.

Onsen mark
Among coffee menu, “Onsen Mark Cappuccino” with a decoration of “Onsen Mark” on cappuccino is posted on various travel magazines and webs as a famous coffee at Kashiwaya Cafe.

In addition, we provide black teas of Ronnefeldt, the German bland. Cold fruit tea is also popular.

You can also enjoy wine and draft beer, including Shima Onsen Ale, the beer brewed at Shima Onsen.

We have also abundant lunch menu.

Our popular menu are “Kashiwaya Curry,” rice with curry which you can enjoy 2 kinds of taste at the same time, and “Italian Ramen,” with pasta noodle and ethnic taste soup.

lunch menu
Also, sandwich made with small baguette bread, pasta, Loco Moco using Onsen egg, and so on, are available.

In addition, our handmade sweets are also popular. Baked cheesecake, rare cheesecake, banana cakes, gateau chocolate, and so on, are available.

Kashiwaya Cafe uses a renewed building that was built in 1935 by Masao Kashiwabara, the founder of our company.

Many customers visit us many times, looking forward this shop atmosphere and the viewing from the second floor, which changes in four seasons.

Free WiFi is also available inside the shop.

At Shima Onsen Resort, other than Kashiwaya Cafe, there are various restaurants, where you can enjoy lunch, such as handmade Soba, popular grilled eel shop, pork cutlet, ramen, and so on.

Please stay several nights and enjoy various lunch!
enjoy bikes

Shima Onsen Kashiwaya Cafe
4237-45, Nakanojo-machi, Agatsuma-gun, Gunma, 377-0601
Hours 10:00 to 17:00 (Last order at 16:30)
Closed Thursdays, the 3rd Fridays

If you interested in Japanese style Onsen, Please click here
Shima Onsen Kashiwaya Ryokan >


About Us, Kashiwaya Ltd. Company Overview

History of Kashiwaya

Kashiwaya Iryou

Along with Kashiwaya Café at Shima Onsen Town, Shima Onsen Kashiwaya Ryokan is run by Kashiwaya Ltd., a small company operated by a family.

The founder is Masao Kashiwabara, my (Masuo Kashiwabara) grandfather.

Masao Kashiwabara, founder
According to historical documents, it is guessed that our ancestors moved from the current Shizuoka prefecture to Sawadamura-Kanobara, about 10km south from Shima Onsen, in the Age of Civil Wars or in the beginning of Edo period (End of 16th century or bigining of 17th century).

We can never know why our ancestors moved from such far Shizuoka prefecture to this countryside village in mountains.

In addition, it seems that our clan was used to be Shugenja (tempest) called Kashiwabara Shugen Daizoin until about Meiji Ishin(19th century).

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