Sarugakyo Onsen is situated in Minakami Town, north of Gunma. Since the olden days, there was a major road in the area, connecting the Kanto Region with the Hokuriku Region, which brought prosperity. In the Edo Era (1603-1867), a Sekisho checkpoint was set up here. In the Meiji Era (1868-1912), the onsen was very popular because of its mountainous landscape. In 1958, the Gunma Prefectural Government built a dam, and the onsen town sunk beneath Lake Akaya. Before that, all onsen ryokan inns and hotels had moved to a new location, the present Sarugakyo Onsen.
The name Sarugakyo comes from a few folk tales. One of them goes like this. Once upon a time, there was a monkey living in a village. There lived a young couple in that village, too. The poor monkey had nothing to eat for many days. The young couple felt sorry for the monkey and gave it some food. One day, the couple's child suffered serious burns. The monkey heard about this and cured the burns by putting the child into the onsen. It is said that this was the beginning of Sarugakyo Onsen.
Another legend has it when Kenshin Uesugi, a prominent feudal lord (1530-1578) who ruled present Niigata Prefecture and was on his way to conquer the Kanto Region in 1560, stayed here overnight. In his dream he saw eight of his teeth fall into his hands. His right-hand man interpreted the dream and told his master that the feudal lord would capture all of the eight countries in the Kanto Region and become the ruler. It happened on the day of the monkey, in the month of the monkey, and the year of the monkey. Kenshin Uesugi's Zodiac sign was also the monkey. All these things together gave this area its name of Sarugakyo.
The Sarugakyo onsen water is clear and gushes out endlessly from its fountainhead. At 56.5 degrees C with sulfuric acid, it is believed to be good for hypertension, arteriosclerosis, rheumatic diseases, gout, uric acid diathesis, and cuts. It is drinkable and is said to work for chronic cholecystitis, chronic constipation, gout chronic digestive disease, etc., if you drink it.
Located in Minakami Town, there is a wide variety of activities available for tourists throughout the four seasons: Fruit-picking, skiing, visiting museums, artisan village, auto camping site, etc. Why not visit Sarugakyo Onsen in the year of Saru or monkey and make it an awesome experience of the year?
Sarugakyo Onsen Tourist Information Association
1150-1 Sarugakyo Onsen, Minakami-machi, Tone-gun