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Manza (Gunma-ken) [E]
 
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sanji
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PostYou have posted in this forum: Tue Feb 06, 2007 10:53 am Back to top

Location : Manza
Prefecture : Gunma-ken
Attractions : ski & onsen - do both if you can, it is worth it!

When : in winter for ski; the rest of the year to visit surrounding nature spots which can not be reached when there is snow
Internet : www.manzaonsen.gr.jp


In the western part of Gunma-ken, at an altitude of 1800 meters, Manza earned the title of the "highest onsen reachable year-round by private car". It is not really a village, as apart a couple of hotels and ryokan (some of them being really large), there is virtually no private house and inhabitants. In fact, Manza officially belongs to Tsumagoi village, located about 10 kilometers in the south, and has no lasting history. Although the onsen place was known for hundreds of years, it was too isolated to be easily reached; it was only after the war, when development started under the impulsion of the Seibu group (owner of the two Prince Hotels found in Manza), that the fame of Manza started to grow.





P YELLOW

Manza Prince Hotel



K YELLOW

Manza Kogen Hotel



M YELLOW

Manzatei



J YELLOW

Manza Hotel Juraku



H YELLOW

Hokokukan



S BLUE

Bottom of the ski field



S BLUE

Bottom of the ski field



S BLUE

Bottom of the ski field



X RED

Road closed in winter



X RED

Road closed in winter








Manza presents two completely different faces in winter and during the rest of the year...

In Winter

Access

by train : There is no train station in Manza, and you will need to take a bus from either Manza Kazawaguchi or Karuizawa.
- to reach Manza Kazawaguchi, you first need to go to Takasaki, a journey made by shinkansen from Tokyo (50-60 minutes, 4600 yens) or by JR Takasaki from Ueno (111 minutes, 1890 yens). Then take the JR Agatsuma Line from Takasaki to Manza Kazawaguchi (106 minutes, 1280 yens).
- to reach Karuizawa, you can take a direct shinkansen (63-72 minutes, 5550 yens).
There is a Karuizawa (軽井沢駅) - Manza Kazawaguchi (万座鹿沢口駅) - Manza (万座) bus operated by Seibu group which runs at various time (depending on the season), typically 7 times per day in winter. Journey takes 116 minutes from Karuizawa and 43 minutes from Manza Kazawaguchi. Check the schedule for details.
by overnight bus : a very cheap option; several companies organize tour bus which leave from the Tokyo area in the evening and arrive in Manza in the early morning. Return ticket costs around 9000 yens, and this is the cheapest option for 1/2 person(s) without a JR Pass. Check pamphlets in all stations and travel agencies for details.
by car : Get out at Usui-Karuizawa IC (碓氷軽井沢), drive to Karuizawa and then take either road 146 (free road) or the Shiraito Highland Way - Onioshi Highway (pay roads, 910 yens) to Manza Kazawaguchi. From there, take the Manza Highway (1020 yens). It will take at least 2 hours from the highway exit to Manza (60 km). Important note: the only access road to Manza in winter is this pay road from Manza Kazawaguchi; there is often snow on the road; snow tires or chains are strongly recommended.

Image 207



Ski

Manza is a small but nice ski resort, with 10 lifts and a maximum elevation of 2000 meters (bottom of the ski runs at 1640 meters). The number of lifts is not significant, as you often have several lifts on the same run. There are only 5 main runs in Manza, and most of them are really easy (the "advanced" one is not that difficult neither). For more information on skiing in Manza, check the Snow Japan – Manza site. Keep in mind that renting ski equipment is rather expensive in the ski resorts in Japan (4000 yens per day for a set comprising ski, poles & shoes); if you can rent that material before arriving in Manza, you will probably get a much better deal.
The ski lifts are located in two different areas, and you might need to take a shuttle bus to travel between them (if there is enough snow, a one-way journey is possible). Most of the hotels are directly located on the ski field.

Image 208
Image 209


web page of the ski field : www.princehotels.co.jp/ski/manza


From spring to autumn

Access

by train : There is no train station in Manza, and you will need to take a bus from either Manza Kazawaguchi or Karuizawa.
- to reach Manza Kazawaguchi, you first need to go to Takasaki, a journey made by shinkansen from Tokyo (50-60 minutes, 4600 yens) or by JR Takasaki from Ueno (111 minutes, 1890 yens). Then take the JR Agatsuma Line from Takasaki to Manza Kazawaguchi (106 minutes, 1280 yens).
- to reach Karuizawa, you can take a direct shinkansen (63-72 minutes, 5550 yens).
There is a Karuizawa (軽井沢駅) - Manza Kazawaguchi (万座鹿沢口駅) - Manza (万座) bus operated by Seibu group which runs at various time (depending on the season), typically 7 times per day in winter. Journey takes 116 minutes from Karuizawa and 43 minutes from Manza Kazawaguchi. Check the schedule for details.
by car : You can access Manza from Usui-Karuizawa IC (碓氷軽井沢, a long drive via the toll road), from Kusatsu (a scenic drive in a volcanic area) and from Shiga Kogen.





Onsen

Every minute, 3750 liters of hot water are discharged in Manza; the water is very acidic, and has a characteristic milky appearance, due to the presence of sulfur suspensions. There seems to be an onsen in just every hotel and ryokan of Manza, and soaking in several of them is a must.

Image 202


There is a public bath, but no rotenburo, which makes it relatively unattractive. On the other hands, all hotels allow people to soak in their bath for a fee between 500-1000 yens.
Manza has recently inaugurated an Onsen pass which allows soaking in several baths for a smaller fee. The price of the pass depends on whether you spend the night in Manza or not:
- overnight guests : 1 pass costs 1200 yens and allows to visit 3 baths for free (500 yens from the forth)
- day tripper : 1 pass costs 700 yens; with it, each bath costs 500 yens.
Clearly this pass is not a bargain, unlike the one found in Kurokawa Onsen, but if you plan to visit several baths, it might be worth.





Accommodation

Image 204Manza Prince Hotel (万座プリンスホテル)
Upscale hotel with nice restaurants. At the same time, it is very large and relatively expensive. The onsen consists of two rotenburo for women, which have limited view; on the men's side, three baths located just one next to another open toward the resort and have therefore a great view. Note that one of those bath is a konyoku – mixed bath – where women are invited to dip in. Keep in mind that the baths are not that large, and in winter, after a day of ski, they are absolutely packed by guests...
Bath only : 9:00-17:00, 1000 yens. Guests staying overnight can use the facilities at the Manza Kogen Hotel for free.
www.princehotels.co.jp/manza/onsen/index.html

Image 203Manza Kogen Hotel (万座高原ホテル, also called Manza Lodge)
This hotel has a great onsen, with seven outdoor mixed baths! They are surrounded by a hill on one side... and the hotel's walls on the other, so the view is limited; but still, soaking there is extremely pleasant. Baths have two different colors (yellow and white-blue), as different springs are used.
While the rooms are functional, they are extremely small and designed for 4 persons. There is a shower directly in the entrance of the room, which opens on four sofa-beds. Even the (small) TV screen is fixed on a wall to gain some place... Food is served as a buffet (dinner and breakfast), and this hotel obviously targets small groups and young people.
Bath only : 9:00-17:00, 1000 yens. Guests staying overnight can use the onsen at the Manza Prince Hotel for free.
www.princehotels.co.jp/manza-kogen/onsen/index.html

Image 205Hokokukan (豊国館)
Located just between the Manza Kogen Hotel and the parking lot to access the lowest ski lifts of the station. This old ryokan shows its age, and would probably need lots of repair. A lot of old electrical cables are running along the walls... Food is rather simple, but this is also one of the cheapest accommodations in Manza. The onsen consists of one rotenburo for women, and one mixed (although women have to cross men's changing room to reach it, which means that it is basically segregated). The baths are large, deep (about 1 meter) and... very hot! The view is pleasant, but if you stand out of the water you have a direct view on the parking bus.
Bath only : 7:00-20:00, 500 yens.
www.manzaonsen.gr.jp/houkokukan

Manzatei (万座亭)
A large ryokan which in fact has two parts: the expensive honkan and the cheapest bekkan, which is one of the best deal you can find in Manza. There is no mixed bathing.
Bath only : 11:00-18:00, 800 yens.
www.manzatei.com

Manza Hotel Juraku (万座ホテル聚楽)
Unlike all other hotels and ryokan, this one is not located next to the ski field, which means that guests have to take a 3-minutes ride by bus to reach the slopes. If you don't mind that, this accommodation offers large and comfortable rooms, as well as a rotenburo with a nice view on Manza.
Bath only : 1000 yens.
www.hotel-juraku.co.jp/manza

There are a bunch of other hotels we have not visited, too...





Restaurants

All people staying overnight eat in their hotel/ryokan. For lunch, there are several restaurants on the ski field, as well as the St-Christophe.

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