Kaga Onsen

Hot spring villages set in lush countryside, with fine traditional inns and crafts

Nestled between the coast of the japan Sea and Mt. Hakusan lies the 1300-year-old hot spring resort town of Kaga Onsen in southwestern Ishikawa. This picturesque town is built around four distinct onsen villages, each offering its own unique charm and attractions. Kaga Onsen is renowned for its high-quality natural hot springs, traditional Japanese crafts, authentic nature walks, and sumptuous local cuisine. Whether you’re seeking relaxation, cultural immersion, or outdoor adventures, Kaga Onsen has something to offer everyone.

One of the main highlights of visiting Kaga Onsen is hot spring-hopping in the four nearby towns’ public baths. Each onsen village has its own public bath located at the town center, offering visitors a chance to experience the healing waters that have been praised as some of the best in Japan. The hot springs of Kaga Onsen were discovered by the Buddhist monk, Gyoki, on a pilgrimage in the eighth century. Since then, they have been known for their therapeutic properties, which include improving digestion, relieving muscle pain, and alleviating skin diseases. Soaking in these natural hot springs is not only a relaxing experience but also a rejuvenating one for both the body and mind.

In addition to hot spring-hopping, Kaga Onsen is also famous for its traditional crafts. Visitors can try their hand at traditional crafts such as Kutani pottery and Yamanaka lacquerware. Kutaniyaki, a distinct type of Japanese porcelain, flourished in Ishikawa during the Edo period, thanks to the support of wealthy samurai and merchants from the Daishoji and Kaga families. The pottery is known for its vibrant colors and intricate patterns, and it was even exported to Europe in large quantities. To learn more about Kutaniyaki and see collections of pottery, visit the Ishikawa Prefecture Kutaniyaki Art Museum and the Kutaniyaki Exhibition Hall in Yamashiro Onsen. These venues also showcase the ruins of a multi-level kiln, providing insights into the history and craftsmanship of Kutani pottery.

Another craft that thrives in Kaga Onsen is lacquerware, particularly Yamanaka lacquerware. This traditional craft involves applying layers of lacquer to wooden objects, resulting in a durable and beautiful finish. One of the living legends in the world of lacquerware is Ryozo Kawakita, a woodturner residing in Yamanaka Onsen who was designated a Living National Treasure in 1994. His exquisite lacquerware pieces are highly sought after by collectors and art enthusiasts. Today, younger artists in the Kaga region, especially ceramicists, are reshaping tradition with more contemporary pieces. Their works can be seen at art fairs and exhibitions in Kaga Onsen and Kanazawa, showcasing the fusion of traditional craftsmanship with modern aesthetics.

To make the most of your stay in Kaga Onsen, it is recommended to spend one or two nights at one of the traditional ryokans. Ryokans are traditional Japanese inns that offer guests a unique cultural experience. They typically feature tatami-matted rooms, communal baths, and exquisite kaiseki meals. Kaga Onsen is home to several luxury ryokans, including Kayotei and Beniya Mukayu, which are highly regarded for their impeccable service and luxurious amenities. Staying at a ryokan allows you to fully immerse yourself in the hot spring culture and enjoy the ultimate relaxation experience.

While in Kaga Onsen, be sure to explore the surrounding area and take in the natural beauty of the region. If you’re feeling adventurous, consider climbing Mt. Hakusan, which offers panoramic views of the Japan Alps and the Sea of Japan. The summit can be reached in a day with an early start or as an overnight trip staying at one of the mountain huts. Alternatively, you can embark on a scenic drive along the Hakusan White Road, which winds through the mountains and leads to historical Shirakawa-go in Gifu Prefecture. This charming road trip allows you to appreciate the stunning landscapes while making your way to another cultural gem.

To get to Kaga Onsen, the most convenient transportation option is to ride the Hokuriku Shinkansen to Kanazawa Station. From there, you can transfer to a limited express train that takes you directly to Kaga Onsen Station. The journey from Tokyo takes approximately two hours and 30 minutes, while from Kyoto, it takes about two hours and 15 minutes. If you’re coming from Nagoya, you can take the shinkansen to Maibara and then change to the limited express Shirasagi bound for Kanazawa. The entire trip from Nagoya to Kaga Onsen takes around two hours. Once you arrive at Kaga Onsen Station, you can easily access major sites using the Can Bus, which offers mountain and sea routes, as well as the Komatsu Airport Line.

In conclusion, Kaga Onsen is a hidden gem in Ishikawa Prefecture, offering a perfect blend of relaxation, cultural immersion, and natural beauty. With its hot spring villages, traditional crafts, and exquisite ryokans, Kaga Onsen provides a truly authentic Japanese experience. Whether you’re seeking to unwind in the healing waters, explore the world of traditional crafts, or indulge in the ultimate ryokan experience, Kaga Onsen is the ideal destination. So, come and immerse yourself in the tranquil ambiance, warm hospitality, and rich cultural heritage of Kaga Onsen.

Address And Maps Location:

Wa Sakumi-machi, Kaga-shi, Ishikawa-ken

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