(Limited bus service) A travel report of Minakami Onsen bus with info on hidden tourist spots

Let me give you a brief information on the Minakami Onsen bus which some of you might not know. It is a highway bus service on limited operation in winter, but conveniently connects you to the popular tourist spots in Minakami, e.g. Jomo-kogen, Minakami Station, Takaragawa Onsen. In this article, I am going to introduce more on this bus service and cover some lesser- known tourist spots. Check it out. (Information was taken as of 24 Jan 2022)

What kind of bus is Minakami Onsen line?

It is a winter-limited highway bus service operated by the Kanetsu Bus Company from 18 December 2021 to 3 April 2022. With a first departure from Shinjuku, the bus takes you directly to various spots in Minakami. The bus is a perfect fit for those who would like to enjoy winter sports in an affordable and a car-free safe trip.

Below is a summary of bus fares and its corresponding stops.
【Outbound】

Time Bus stop Fare(Left: Board at Shinjuku or Nerima, Right: Board at Kawagoe)
9:45 am Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal (BUSTA)
10:15 am Nerima Station(In front of Nerima City Hall)
11:15 am Kawagoe Station West Exit
1:25 pm Jomo-kogen Station 3,500 yen (Round trip 5,700 yen)/3,000 yen(Round trip4,900 yen)
1:35 pm Dougi 3,500 yen (Round trip 5,700 yen)/3,000 yen(Round trip4,900 yen)
1:40 pm Yubara Iriguchi 3,500 yen (Round trip 5,700 yen)/3,000 yen(Round trip4,900 yen)
1:45 pm Minakami Station 3,500 yen (Round trip 5,700 yen)/3,000 yen(Round trip4,900 yen)
1:55 pm Kyozuka 3,700 yen (Round trip 6,000 yen)/3,200 yen (Round trip 5,200yen)
2:15 pm Takaragawa Onsen Iriguchi 3,700 yen (Round trip 6,000 yen)/3,200 yen (Round trip 5,200yen)
2:25 pm Minakami Kogen Hotel 200 3,700 yen (Round trip 6,000 yen)/3,200 yen (Round trip 5,200yen)

【Inbound】

Time Bus stop Fares(Left: Get off at Shinjuku or Nerima; Right: Get off at Kawagoe)
10:20 am Minakami Kogen Hotel 200 3,700 yen (Round trip 6,000 yen)/3,200 yen (Round trip 5,200yen)
10:30 am Takaragawa Onsen Iriguchi 3,700 yen (Round trip 6,000 yen)/3,200 yen (Round trip 5,200yen)
10:50 am Kyozuka 3,700 yen (Round trip 6,000 yen)/3,200 yen (Round trip 5,200yen)
11:10 am Minakami Station 3,500 yen (Round trip 5,700 yen)/3,000 yen(Round trip4,900 yen)
11:15 am Yubara Iriguchi 3,500 yen (Round trip 5,700 yen)/3,000 yen(Round trip4,900 yen)
11:20 am Dougi 3,500 yen (Round trip 5,700 yen)/3,000 yen(Round trip4,900 yen)
11:35 am Jomo-kogen Station 3,500 yen (Round trip 5,700 yen)/3,000 yen(Round trip4,900 yen)
1:45 pm Kawagoe Station West Exit
2:40 pm Nerima Station(In front of Nerima City Hall)
3:15 pm Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal (BUSTA)

The whole ride takes 4 hours 30 minutes and there is a short restroom break along the way.

I feel relieved of riding on the bus as the driver is experienced in driving on snowy and icy roads.

I took the Minakami Onsen line

みなかみ温泉号

If you are a first time user, you may still have concern over riding on a highway bus. I took the Minakami Onsen line earlier to Tsukiyono Vidro Park. Let me show you some photos here on the bus lounge, bus interior & exterior and service area so that you can have a better understanding on the bus. Please take a look.

As mentioned earlier, the destination of my trip was Tsukiyono Vidro Park. It is a hidden spot with tons of excitement. I am going to introduce more in my article, let’s check it out.

9:45 Departed from Busta Shinjuku

バスタ新宿

I arrived Shinjuku Station by the Yamanote line. The bus boarding place was in Busta Shinjuku (Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal), which was just at the other side of the pedestrian crossing after I exited from the south gate.

バスタ新宿

The bus stop was on 4/F. Inside the terminal building, there were lots of instructions written on the floor, walls and ceilings. I didn’t feel confused at all even though I am bad at direction.

バスタ新宿

After getting to 4/F, I took a look at the information displays. It seemed that the Minakami Onsen bus was scheduled to depart at C7.

 I waited at the spacious lounge until the bus arrived. There were other amenities, like toilet, convenience store and vending machines available for use. There was also bus announcement alerting you upon a bus arrived, so you could wait in the lounge until the last minute even in a cold day.

みなかみ温泉号

At 5 minutes before the scheduled departure time, I heard an announcement and headed to the bus stop. Since it was a weekday, the bus was empty and I was able to pick my own seat.

Bus details

みなかみ温泉号

Regarding the bus details, I checked with the bus driver and summarized as below.

・Infants, to be accompanied by parents are allowed on board.
・Foldable baby strollers are permitted on board (only when seats are available.)
・Foldable wheelchairs are permitted on board (only when seats are available)
・Large-size musical instruments are permitted on board (when seats are still available)
・Pet carriers are allowed on the bus.
・Bike, ski or snowboards can be stored in the trunk.
・No on-board toilet (Bus will make a brief stop at service area for a restroom break)
・No charging outlets on board.
・No WIFI

Since the bus is not equipped with WIFI nor charging outlets, you are recommended to bring your own portable WIFI and charging device. It took about an hour until the first service area arrived, remember to go to toilet before boarding.

A short break along the way

① 10:45〜11:00 Miyoshi SA(15mins)
② 12:30〜12:45 Akagi-kogen SA(15mins)

The bus stopped for 15 minutes in each of the service areas above for a break. Miyoshi SA offers you a selection of light meals, such as fried chicken and bread which you can buy and finish your lunch inside the bus. At Akagi-kogen SA, you will be amazed by the impressive snow-capped mountain. I was able to refresh myself after having a deep breath of fresh air and taking photos on the splendid scenery.

1:05 pm Arrived at Jomo-kogen

上毛高原駅

The traffic was light on weekday and I arrived Jomo-kogen 20 minutes earlier than scheduled. The whole ride took 3 hours and 20 minutes, but it was not such a long haul as hard as I thought. While I was on the bus, I killed time by eating, taking a nap, playing on my phone and doing anything I like. What an enjoyable moment.

The stunning scenery outside the bus window helped me relax and leave the hustle and bustle of everyday life. I was able to leave stress behind and enjoy the moment of serenity.

【Information on Minakami Onsen line】

\ Special Offer /

A one-day transit pass at 500yen per adult (250 yen per child) is now for exclusive sale to highway bus passengers by the Kanetsu Bus Company. This one-day pass allows unlimited transits to local route bus in one day, which is a great deal and convenient if you are travelling to areas of Roadside Station Takuminosato, Minakami Station and Tsukiyono Vidro Park.

【Please click here for detailed information】

Stopped by Tsukiyono Vidro Park before going to onsen

びーどろパーク

Some of you may think travelling to Minakami during winter is troublesome since there is usually a massive snow pile-up. Be courageous and enjoy the fun that winter brings. I am going to introduce you the Tsukiyono Vidro Park, a place full of enjoyment even in winter.

It was a sunny and clear day, so I decided to take a walk from Jomo-kogen Station. The scenery along the way was amazing and I arrived in one time.

 Tsukiyono Vidro Park is a glass making theme park offering you fun experiences from seeing, learning, eating, making, and shopping. First I visited a huge plant which is a glass making factory where artisans were undergoing glass production and demonstration. From melting the raw materials in an extremely hot furnace, fusing to sandblasting, the whole process amazed me and I had nothing to say other than “unbelievable”.
The park serves as one of the largest producers of handmade glass in Japan, and its glassware is also exported worldwide. I was more than satisfied to witness such sophisticated skills for free during the demonstration.

体験工房

After the demonstration, I’d love to try making my own glassware. At Tsukiyono Vidro Park, there were a variety of workshops, colored sand candles and stained glass making, music box making, etc. offered at a reasonable price.

サンドブラスト

This time I joined the sandblasting class. I was asked to pick my favorite shape of glass, put some stickers on it at my own design, and put it into a machine for sandblasting. After I went back home, just peeled off the stickers and my own glass was done. I was as excited as a child until seeing my own masterpiece completed.

Just to mention, the most popular course was the glassblowing which reservation is required. Under the instruction from craftsmen, everyone can make his personalized and unique piece of glass art.

びーどろパーク

I visited the museum afterwards, walked around and took some photos. At the souvenir shop, I found something interesting!

ねこのフードボール

It was a food bowl for cat made in glass. The bowl was designed to fit the physique of cats, it is heavy and not easily to be flipped over. It has been receiving positive feedback from those who purchased claiming that their cats are eating more than before. If you are raising a cat, why not buy one to your cat as souvenir?

びーどろパークのビール

The Vidro Park is also producing local craft beer. The liquor corner at the souvenir shop was lined with prestigious local beers that had won gold, silver, and bronze medals in the international beer awards.
Among all varieties, my favourite ones are the Joestu Line Beer and RONA.

地ビール

It is awesome to have a cup of beer in your DIY glass. I can’t wait to go back home immediately and enjoy a drink with my glass.
If you are staying in a hotel or if you would like to have a drink on the bus, beer in plastic bottles fits you well and they are also sold in the park.

◎Basic information of Tsukiyono Vidro Park

Operating hour Varies with season
Click here for details
Address 737-1 Gokan, Minakami, Tone District, Gunma Prefecture
Tel 0120-0278-62
Office hour: 9:00 am~4:30 pm
Admission fee Admission & visits are free of charge
Refer to homepage for details about glass making workshop
Access About 5 mins by taxi from Jomo-kogen Station
About 25 mins on foot
※Pick up from station is available (advanced reservation by phone is required)
Homepage Click here

Minakami Onsen bus makes your trip pleasant, no matter you travel on your own or by group

上毛高原駅

In this article, I introduced the Minakami Onsen line and shared to you my actual travel experience with photos. This bus operates in winter only, it frees you from worrying about driving on snowy roads. It takes you directly from the city center so you are free from making complicated transits.
It is convenient as the trunk helps you store and carry luggage. No matter if you are travelling alone, with friends, family or your partner, this bus is perfectly for you.

I also recommended taking a visit to the Tsukiyono Vidro Park. All in all, there are endless fun things to do and see at Vidro Park and it is clearly one of the most essential things to do in Minakami.

Make a bus reservation

The Minakami Onsen line is available to book via Japan Bus Online.

Click here for details

 

If you want to make a reservation for an expressway bus,
Please go to “Japan Bus Online”.

The information in this article is current at the time of writing.
It may differ from the latest information.

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