Kaga Onsen is home to four charming hot spring villages, each made up of historic 'Onsen' (bathhouses), traditional 'Ryokan' (inns) and cobbled streets. Located in the south of Ishikawa prefecture, this area is famed for its natural steaming water, which bubbles up from the volcanic Mount Hakusan (2,702 m) nearby to feed the onsen baths. Join the locals and wander narrow alleyways from bathhouse to bathhouse, dressed in 'yukata' robes and wooden 'geta' sandals, for an authentic Japanese experience.
Soaking in a communal Onsen is a beloved pastime for most Japanese and regarded as more than just a soothing activity, but a cultural ritual too. The mineral-rich hot spring water produces many health benefits, such as getting rid of toxins, alleviating pains and boosting circulation, and is therefore highly-revered for its properties – so much so, that it is often referred to as ‘the water of the gods’.
Relax and rejuvenate in the mineral-rich hot spring water and appreciate mother nature in Kaga Onsen. An integral part of Onsen culture is connecting with the natural world, thanks to its ancient roots in Shintoism - Japanese spirituality - which celebrates nature’s essence and beauty. A strong focus on the surrounding nature is no exception here, where you will become absorbed in a Zen atmosphere.
For those wishing to embrace the intricacies of Japanese culture and immerse themselves in its traditions, taking part in this activity is one of the experiential highlights of a tour to this unique country.
Under an hour’s train journey away from Kanazawa, Kaga Onsen is ideal for those who’d like to experience Japan’s Onsen culture without having to travel too deep into rural areas. While there are several villages to choose from - Yamanaka, Awazu, Yamashiro and Katayamazu – we particularly recommend you visit Yamanaka Onsen, which is famous for its delicate lacquerware and arguably the most scenic of the four and Yamashiro Onsen, whose old-fashioned baths were rebuilt a few years ago but remain faithful to the original Meiji-period design.
This is a charming destination for those seeking tranquillity and relief from the hustle and bustle of Japan’s big cities. One idiosyncrasy to bear in mind is that tattoos are prohibited in most Japanese Onsen, although the more upscale hotels do sometimes make exceptions or offer private Onsen too.
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