Ishikawa Prefecture lies on the west coast of Japan's main island, a part of Hokuriku in the larger Chubu, or "central", region. It is best-known perhaps for its capital city of Kanazawa, an old castle town rich in history and natural beauty and surprisingly compact in size (a good thing -- more on this later). Kanazawa offers a range of sightseeing destinations and cultural experiences -- not to mention the tasty food -- that will delight history buffs and artisans alike.
Although it is certainly not to be missed, Kanazawa is not all that Ishikawa Prefecture has to offer. Travelers to Japan -- both first-timers and repeat visitors alike -- are sure to know of the country's nationwide passion for hot springs; well, Ishikawa is no exception as home to Kaga Onsen (among others) which consists of four smaller hot spring towns including Awazu, Yamashiro, Yamanaka, and Katayamazu. Those looking for a peaceful getaway with a steamy bath to melt away the weariness of travel need look no further than these small, somewhat secluded hot spring villages tucked amongst the verdant mountains and valleys of Ishikawa. Kaga Onsen's soothing hot springs -- and their purported healing powers -- are said to have been discovered more than 1,000 years ago, and in addition to the famous public bath houses here, visitors can find a number of top-class ryokan to choose from. Continue below for some of our top choices.
Ryokan featured below:
- Hoshi Ryokan in Awazu Onsen
- Beniya Mukayu in Yamashiro Onsen
- Araya Totoan in Yamashiro Onsen
- The Kayotei in Yamanaka Onsen
Hoshi Ryokan in Awazu Onsen is the second oldest hotel in the world still operating today, only a handful of years behind another Japanese inn. This piece of living history has flourished and expanded significantly since its grand opening in the early 700s, and today a variety of accommodations are on offer, from standard grade rooms to luxurious, high-end suites. Whether you're staying in a room fit for the emperor (seriously) or fit for a family vacation, you will find Hoshi's service to be unwaveringly attentive and sincere. The spacious, communal hot spring spas are quite an experience, and the painstakingly prepared cuisine will delight your palette like only the finest traditional Japanese fare can.
Beniya Mukayu, located up a wooded hill in Yamashiro Onsen, exudes a quiet cool from the time you pull up outside its doors. Its unique style seemlessly blends a modern chic with distinctly traditional Japanese design. Walking through its peaceful halls feels much like walking through a museum of modern art, and a step into a guest room imparts a sense of comfort and class with carefully arranged simplicity. The ryokan begs to be explored, from the mountain garden with tea house, to the upper floor yoga space and balcony. In addition to the area's famous hot springs in both communal and private ensuite baths, Mukayu offers fantastic spa services and an full line of treatments.
Also located in Yamashiro, Araya Totoan is right nextdoor to the hot spring town's public bath facilities. As another resort inn, though, guests may find it difficult to escape Totoan's overwhelmingly luxurious and traditionally Japanese atmosphere. Despite its quite traditional ambiance and design, little flourishes of anachronistic style can be found throughout, like an avante-garde lounge chair on a room's veranda or the swanky wine bar that occupies the classicly-styled garden house.
It is an odd feeling walking in to The Kayotei, located in the forested hills of Yamanaka Onsen. Even as just a brief visitor and not a guest, it felt like coming home. Guests kick off their shoes at the entrance to this intimate, only 10-room inn and stride the tatami-covered floors without slippers as if at home. The Kayotei's simple Japanese stylings and integration with the natural surroundings makes you feel both comfortably at home and close to the rolling, forested hills of the area.