7 Best Onsen Towns In Ishikawa Prefecture

wakura onsen Chubu

Nothing is better than soaking in a relaxing onsen, or hot spring, to refresh your mind and body. There are so many great hot spring resorts throughout Japan, making it tough to decide which ones to visit. That being said, Ishikawa prefecture is a great option as it is full of beautiful nature and happens to be home to loads of wonderful onsen resorts. From Tokyo, you can take the Hokuriku Shinkansen which is about a 2.5-hour ride to Kanazawa. From there it is pretty easy to get to most of the hot spring resorts in Ishikawa. You can choose an onsen(or two) that best suits you based on your itinerary, budget, and preferences. In this article we will talk about 7 of the best onsen in Ishikawa prefecture!                  

1. Yamanaka Onsen

Yamanaka Onsen is a lovely hot spring town located in Kaga city of Ishikawa prefecture. This beautiful hot spring resort is located in a small village surrounded by stunning scenery that includes mountains and fresh green forests. The history of Yamanaka Onsen goes back to about 1,300 years ago when Gyoki, a famous Japanese Buddhist monk discovered the hot spring. Kakusenkei Gorge is a symbolic natural attraction in the area that runs along the quaint resort town. This scenic gorge stretches about 1.3km and is a perfect break from all the hot spring bathing. It can be nice to take a pleasant stroll, enjoy forest bathing, or admire the colorful autumn leaves in the fall

Yamanaka Onsen Highlights

Yamanaka Onsen District: A small downtown of Yamanaka Onsen which is home to a wide range of shops, restaurants, Japanese-style inns and memorable experiences that await you.

Kakusenkei Gorge: A beautiful gorge that is different and special every season of the year. 

Yamanaka-za Theater: A perfect spot to enjoy traditional performances by Geisha dancers. It is also adjacent to a famous public bathhouse called “Kikuno-yu”. 

Recommended Accommodation: Yamanaka Onsen Kissho Yamanaka

2. Wakura Onsen

Wakura Onsen is a spectacular seaside hot spring town located in the middle part of the Noto peninsula. This beautiful hot spring resort has a 1200-year history and is probably best known for its amazing location with great views of Nanao bay. As you explore the peaceful onsen town, you will be able to find a great number of accommodation options including traditional Japanese Ryokan along the scenic seaside. The hot springs in Wakura onsen are rich in minerals like sodium from the seawater, which not only help to relieve tired muscles but also are said to make your skin beautiful and smooth. There is also a free footbath that you can use at Yuttari Park. Don’t forget to try Wakura Onsen’s soft-boiled eggs cooked in the hot spring water!    

Wakura Onsen Highlights

Kagaya Ryokan: One of the most renowned Ryokan in Wakura onsen with a history of over 100 years and an unbeatable view of the bay.

Notojima Aquarium: Perfect spot for families to spend a memorable time while discovering the underwater world full of diverse marine life.  

Wakura Onsen Soyu: Popular public bathhouse where you can enjoy the 100% natural hot spring water flowing directly from the source. 

Recommended Accommodation: Kagaya Bettei Matsunomidori

3. Awazu Onsen

Awazu onsen is a lesser-known, relatively small hot spring town nestled in Komatsu city in Ishikawa prefecture. It is about a 40-minute train ride from JR Kanazawa station to get to the quaint hot spring heaven that welcomes visitors with a nostalgic atmosphere like you have traveled back in time. Along with other famous hot spring towns such as Yamanaka onsen and Yamashiro onsen, it is officially known as one of the four Kaga onsen towns. Today, there are about 13 traditional Japanese inns in Awazu Onsen, each of which has its own hot spring source. Among them, Hoshi Ryokan (法師) is particularly famous as one of the world’s oldest inns with over 1,300 years of history. 

Kzaral, (CC BY 2.0), via flickr

Awazu Onsen Highlights

Hoshi Ryokan: 1,300-year-old Ryokan which offers a refreshing onsen experience, great hospitality and a comfortable stay in spacious traditional Japanese-style rooms.   

Natadera Temple: Sacred Buddhist temple built in 717 best known for its beautiful Japanese gardens that have stunning autumn colors in the fall. The beautiful temple ground is also home to unique landscapes created by naturally-formed caves and rocky cliffs.   

Yunokuni no Mori: Craft village with a wide range of hands-on experiences and classes that can be insightful in learning how to make Ishikawa’s traditional crafts such as ceramic painting and gold leaf pasting.

Recommended Accommodation: Hoshi 

4. Yamashiro Onsen

If you are planning to spend a couple of days in Ishikawa, it is always fun to visit several different hot spring resorts to make the most of your trip! Yamashiro onsen is one of the largest hot spring towns in Ishikawa which is conveniently located close to other famous hot springs. At the center of the lovely town, you will find two different bathhouses called “Soyu” (総湯) and “Sokoyu” (総古湯). Soyu has very modern facilities as well as spacious indoor baths where you can enjoy 100% natural hot springs. The Sokoyu building was restored in 2010 and was based on the traditional public bathhouse style from back in the Meiji period. Beautiful Kutani-yaki (traditional Japanese porcelain that originated in Ishikawa) tiles made carefully by local artisans are also used to decorate the interior walls and floors of this beautiful bathhouse.    

Yamashiro Onsen Highlights

Yakuoin Onsenji Temple: Historic Buddhist temple established by Gyoki, who founded Yamashiro onsen back in the late 8th century. The quiet temple ground is perfect for taking a peaceful stroll while admiring the surrounding natural beauty that differs every season.  

Iroha Soan: Temporary residence of Kitaoji Rosanjin, one of Japan’s greatest artists in the 20th century who had extraordinary talents for a wide range of traditional Japanese art.    

・Local specialties: Try amazingly fresh seafood such as crab caught fresh from the nearby Sea of Japan.

Recommended Accommodation: Tachibana Shikitei

5. Yoshigaura Onsen (Lamp no yado)

Yoshigaura onsen is located on the northernmost tip of the Noto peninsula in Ishikawa prefecture. There is only one Ryokan around the area which is known as “Lamp no yado”, but they offer an exclusive hot spring experience that you won’t find anywhere else. This Ryokan is nestled along the stunning coastline and looks out onto the Sea of Japan. They only have 15 rooms, and each room offers a breathtaking ocean view. Some rooms even have their own private outdoor bath where you can enjoy a relaxing soak without having to leave your room. The meals are served with locally sourced ingredients and fresh seafood. The remote location is not easily accessible by public transport, but it is definitely worth a visit if you are looking for the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city!    

Yoshigaura Onsen Highlights

Blue Cave: Beautiful spot accessible from Lamp no yado on foot. You can enjoy the stunning scenery inside a small cave created by natural light that is beautifully reflected onto the crystal-clear water.   

Observation Deck Skybird: Popular observation deck which sticks out into the ocean and offers panoramic views of the surrounding area. 

Recommended Accommodation: Lamp No Yado

6. Yuwaku Onsen

Yuwaku onsen is a hidden gem that is about a 50-minute bus ride from Kanazawa Station, making it a perfect weekend trip destination if you are visiting Ishikawa. This peaceful hot spring town is home to 9 traditional Japanese Ryokan which welcome visitors with a relaxed atmosphere and superb hospitality. There is a public bathhouse called “Shirasagino-yu” that has a free foot bath if you are planning a day trip on a limited budget. For over centuries, this tranquil retreat has been visited and loved by famous people throughout Japan including the feudal lords of the Kaga clan.

663highland, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Yuwaku Onsen Highlights

Kanazawa Yuwaku Edomura: Beautiful village with traditional Japanese buildings and houses that were built back in the Edo period.    

Kanazawa Yuwaku Yumeji Museum: Informative museum that has a large collection of great works and belongings of Takehisa Yumeji, a famous Japanese poet during the Taisho period

Recommended Accommodation: Kanazawa Hyakurakusou

7. Katayamazu Onsen

Katayamazu onsen is a lakeside hot spring town that is only about 10 minutes from JR Kaga Onsen station by car. This peaceful resort lies on the scenic shores of Lake Shibayama, which flows into the sea of Japan. The history of Katayamazu onsen dates back to the mid-17th century when the feudal lord of the area found the source of the hot spring. The hot spring water at Katayamazu onsen contains an abundance of minerals with healing and relaxing properties. Lake Shibayama is said to naturally change color seven times a day depending on the weather and time and offers a stunning view of Mt. Hakusan in the background.   

Katayamazu Onsen Highlights

・Katayamazu City Bathhouse (Soyu): A public bathhouse that features modern facilities and two different types of baths. On the second floor, you can enjoy having a small meal and sweets at a cozy cafe while looking out onto Lake Shibayama.     

Ukimi-do Hall: A symbolic hall on Lake Shibayama which can be accessed by walking across a bridge from Yunomoto Park. At night, this small hall is beautifully lit up with a giant fountain that reaches a height of 70 meters.  

(For more information, click here)

Recommended Accommodation: Yukai Resort Yataya Shotoen

Don’t forget to check out our private tours!

If you need some help organizing your trip to Japan, it may be a good idea to check out our private tours with one of our knowledgeable and fun English guides. We would be more than happy to help you make your trip to Japan a safe, comfortable, and unforgettable one! 

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Join our private walking tour and explore the beautiful city of Kanazawa which is full of historic sites, a lively local market, and stunning modern art museums. 

Ishikawa is a bit far and out of the way from the bigger cities like Tokyo and Osaka, but if you have the chance to make it over to this less-traveled side of Japan, it surely won’t disappoint. The Hokuriku region is beautiful and full of nature that you don’t quite get anywhere else. If you stay at an onsen resort out here, you will be able to escape all the hustle and bustle and truly relax and refresh. We hope you found an onsen or two that you want to visit and that someday you will be able to make the trip to Ishikawa and stay at some of these amazing places. 

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Miho Shimizu is a Japanese freelance writer settled in Shizuoka with her husband and two rabbits. Fascinated with traveling at the age of 18, she has spent most of her long holidays exploring incredible spots around Japan. Also love to listen to music, draw, and read novels over a cup of green tea.

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