We're getting ready to book our SECOND stay - here's why:
My wife and I stayed two nights mid-November 2015. The weather was a little wet, but as we live in a desert town in California, the light mist added to the romantic and authentic sense of Kusatsu-onsen.
Our room was beautiful, and huge! the large sitting/dining area was 13 tatami, plus a 6 tatami sitting area, and 7 tatami sleeping room!
Our first night's dinner was in the room; sitting in our yukata at the table. Two young women in full kimono - kneeling at the sliding door - announced themselves, and were THE MOST PROFESSIONAL and graceful servers we've ever experienced, anywhere, ever! It didn't matter at all that we spoke little Japanese, and they little English - the meal was gourmet-quality with many courses, many dishes and all perfectly prepared, elegantly plated, and served to us as though we were...traveling nobility! Halfway through that meal we couldn't help but feel as though we'd stepped back 200 years to the old Edo Period.
Breakfast was also meticulously Japanese - elegant, simple yet complex, and perfectly served by our kimono-clad awesome server.
It was really cool how our (last) name was hand caligraphed - in English and (Katakana, I think) - and posted out front of the Inn.
There may be other Ryokan that either cost less, or perhaps look "new" - and that's fine. We spent 2 weeks in Japan in 2015, and are getting ready to book our next 2 weeks in Japan for 2016 - When it was time to leave, my wife began to cry as we began taking off the traditional clothing and had to return to the modern world: Over the course of two days and nights we had been taken back in time - the only thing missing as we strolled `round the "Yubatake" through the moonlit mist under an umbrella were my Samurai swords! This is why Osaka-ya at Kusatsu-onsen is our choice.
If any of my review touched you, or made sense, PLEASE try to stay 2 nights - I know it looks really expensive 'on paper', but you will NEVER FORGET this experience! And when I added up the A+++ room, 2 gourmet-quality dinners and 2 gourmet-quality breakfasts, it's not completely insanely priced!
Since there is NO TIPPING in Japan, we wanted to show our gratitude by bringing mementos from our hometown such as decorated key chains, and gave them to those whom we were touched by - such as our server, and a really cool bartender at a tiny bar in Kyoto...they will be touched by the thoughtfulness!