Ikaho Onsen is one of the four most famous hot spring resorts of Gunma Prefecture, featuring thermal waters with a high concentration of iron. Located at the eastern slopes of Mount Haruna, an active volcano, Ikaho is best known for its stone stairs, which lead up through the town center and are lined by ryokan, old fashioned game arcades and shops.
A few kilometers outside of Ikaho stands Mizusawa Kannon, a popular temple, well known for the udon noodles sold at restaurants along its approach. Mount Haruna with its beautiful caldera lake can also be easily combined with a visit to Ikaho.
Ikaho's main attraction, besides its uniquely colored baths, is the stone steps (ishidan gai) which progress upwards through the center of this mountain town for about 300 meters. The steps have been reconstructed in recent years, but original examples of the stone work are still visible near Ishidan no yu, a public bath.
At the bottom of the steps is a former checkpoint for travelers on one of the old foot roads that connected the towns and cities of pre-modern Japan. The building now houses a small museum. Ikaho Shrine is located at the top of the steps.
As the center of town, the stone steps are the main thoroughfare for visitors seeking restaurants, ryokan, gifts (omiyage), or arcade game shops. These shops offer old arcade style games with various prizes for about 300 to 500 yen. Games such as ring toss, or "target shooting" are popular examples.
Past the top of the steps and towards the public outdoor bath is Kajika Bridge, offering an impressive view of the leaves in autumn. Here, the deep brown colored hot spring water is also visible as it flows under the bridge. The iron rich water can be tasted at a small drinking fountain on the side of the road.