Use the

Planning a Trip to Japan?

Share your travel photos with us by hashtagging your images with #visitjapanjp

A Relaxing Weekend Escape at Charming Yamashiro Onsen

Views of Yamashiro Onsen Town

An easy train ride from the golden city of Kanazawa (in Ishikawa Prefecture) famed for its gold leaf, historical geisha & samurai districts, intricately detailed Kaga Yuzen kimono and picturesque Kenroku-en gardens is the charming and quaint onsen town of Yamashiro.

Made even more accessible come March 16th 2024 due to the extended Hokuriku Shinkansen route which will see journey times only take around 2.5 hours from the ancient capital of Kyoto, popular bustling Osaka, the modern metropolis of Tokyo and a mere 30 minutes from Kanazawa itself.

A perfect way to extend ones Japan holiday, see another side of the country and experience a quintessential onsen ryokan stay.

Enjoy Bathing in the Historic Public Onsen Bathhouse Kosoyu

Kosoyu, the towns central landmark

A town rich in history, Yamashiros central landmark of Kosoyu heralds back to ancient times where towns and communities were once built around castles, temples, shrines and also public onsen bathhouses. For the Hokuriku region, a public onsen was more commonly known as a soyu” and the surrounding town area was called the yunogawa”.

Rebuilt in 2010, Kosoyu (literally translates to Old Soyu”) is an exact restoration of the original Meiji Era bathhouse that once stood there. Wooden interiors greet you as you glide past the noren curtain to enter the onsen resplendent with warm, welcoming hinoki walls intermingled with the famed, vibrant Kanazawa reds and blues in beautiful stained glass window squares. Kutani porcelain tiles in Kanazawa blue decorate the floor with favourite local motifs.

After soaking, head upstairs to relax in the tatami lounging area where you can sip water, quietly chat and appreciate the views of the town from the windows. If you want to soak even more, across the street from Kosoyu is the new modern bathhouse of Soyu.

Interior of the women’s bath at Kosoyu

Discover the Origins of Today's Modern Japanese Alphabet at Yakuoin Onsenji

Entrance to Yakuoin Onsenji

A few minutes’ walk from Kosoyu up the paved, lantern lined street with Kutani porcelain art, is the picturesque Yakuoin Onsenji, the leading temple of the Hakusan Five Temples. Legend states that this ancient temple was founded by the high priest Gyoki on his pilgrimage to the Sacred Mt. Hakusan and discovered the sacred three-legged crow Yatagarasu (a mythical creature from Japanese folklore) healing its injured wing in the onsen springs.

Sweeping momiji trees will wave their branches as you step through the moss-covered grounds of the temple - pay attention where you step because you will discover a path where each step is engraved with a letter from Japans hiragana alphabet in vibrant coloured Kutani-yaki. The temple is where the chief priest Myokaku Shonin created todays modern alphabet of hiragana and katakana (gojūon 五十音) during the Heian period.

Make sure to also visit Hatori Shrine with its large torii gate next door. The shrine is dedicated to the God of (traditional) weaving, however the popular modern interpretation refers to the social interaction, the weaving, networking, creating stronger and better personal or professional connections.

Traditional Ema boards hanging at Yakuoin Onsenji

Experience Traditional Crafts in Yunokuni no Mori Natural Forest

Historical thatched houses amidst lush vibrant greenery at Yunokuni no Mori

A 15-minute drive from Yamashiro Onsen town lies Yunokuni no Mori, a traditional craft village inside a 130,000 tsubo area of lush natural forest where nearly 20 one hundred year old original thatched houses have been relocated. Within the houses are a total of 11 museums showcasing traditional crafts from Ishikawa Prefecture and their processes.

There are over 50 types of traditional craft workshops to experience, from Yuzen dyeing, Kutani pottery painting, decorating lacquerware with gold, shaping clay and many others. A perfect little day trip for those who not only want to experience and participate in the amazing artisan history of the region, but enjoy slow walks amongst the expansive ground, seasonal flowers and other nature (where you may find some Studio Ghiblis Princess Mononokes Kodama dotted around).

There are several restaurants to choose from if ones feeling peckish such as soba, udon, a tea house with a heart shaped window and other cuisine. The entire little village is very picturesque so one can happily pass time by just simply walking around, taking in the grounds and installations.

A colorful umbrella installation

Wear Beautiful Antique Kimono Whilst you Explore Yamashiro

Final touches to wearing an antique kimono

With its proximity to Kanazawa, renowned for their amazingly beautiful Kaga Yuzen kimono, one can also indulge in wearing traditional and exquisite kimono whilst walking around town, making one feel like they have travelled through time to a bygone era of Japan.

Down the main street, find Taniguchi Kimono shop which is lovingly run by the elegant Atsuko-san. Once you step through the shops doors, leisurely browse through their selection of lovely kimonos and pretty kimono and hair accessories to match. Once you have decided, one of the ladies will sweep your hair up into a refined style to match your kimono, and then you will move into the inner dressing room as the ladies work their magic to dress you in all the many layers in a matter of moments.

Take some photos with their impressive Wagasa umbrellas, decorated painstakingly with detailed touches of lacquer and gold leaf, before going for a meander down the town to the iconic Kosoyu with its surrounding weeping willows to capture some truly memorable moments.

Exploring the town wearing kimono

Stay at One or Two (Or More!) of the Relaxing Onsen Ryokan in Town

One of the public onsen baths of Hatori

There are 20 onsen ryokan to choose from to spend the night at Yamashiro Onsen, from smaller cozy little inns, to traditional establishments, to those mixing modern and traditional Japan in wonderful luxury. All are located within walking distance from Kosoyu.

Built in 1946, Hatori Ryokan is named for the former title of the area before the Edo Period and is currently helmed by the Yondaime (fourth generation family head). Found throughout the premises are drawings of a stylised monkey found on kimonos by illustrator Ueda Miyuki which symbolises the playfulness of children and their families, and the hope for the future. A variety of rooms are available from traditional Japanese to modern fusion, with 8 of their rooms featuring open air baths.

Since 1868, Tachibana Shikitei has offered a quiet elegance, with its intimate live piano performances each evening. Recently renovated, their 20 rooms offer a sumptuous, luxurious experience with spacious designs and warm tatami floors, decorated with the beautiful crafts of Ishikawa Prefecture, whilst their upper floor suite rooms are a relaxing blend of both modern and Japanese aesthetics overlooking Kosoyu and Yakuoin Onsenji. Over half their rooms have private open-air onsen.

All of the ryokans draw their onsen from the town’s hot spring source famed for beautifying skin, so no matter where one stays, one can enjoy the silky, luscious vitality of Yamashiros onsen.

A private onsen bath in one of Shikiteis suite rooms, overlooking Yakuoin Onsenji

Check out some of Lia's adventures and recommendations for amazing spots in Niigata's Echigo Yuzawa here!
Follow Lia as she explores more areas of Japan intimately, over on her IG @ryokanwanderings or have a read of her blog: Ryokan Wanderings for even more stories and adventures.

Lia is an Aussie based in Tokyo, Japan with a passion for exploring the lesser known, and learning people’s life stories. She loves to seek out ryokan traditional accomodation with private onsen hot spring baths (which she shares on Ryokan Wanderings), discovering hidden sushi omakase gems or curled up in her Totoro bed with a good book. If not travelling in Japan or abroad, her days are spent in her studio, Tokyo Kaleidoscope, reconstructing vintage Japanese silk kimonos into bespoke pieces for herself and others.



Please Choose Your Language

Browse the JNTO site in one of multiple languages