Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Katayamazu Onsen – The Town Overlooks the Mighty Mt. Haku

Katayamazu Onsen (片山津温泉) is a small onsen town created by the reclamation of part of Lake Shibayama (柴山潟) during the Meiji period (1868 – 1912). The biggest appeal of the town is the stunning view of Mt. Haku or Mt. Hakusan (白山), reflecting on Lake Shibayama on a clear sunny day, which visitors can admire while strolling or cycling on the promenade around the lake. If you are spending a whole day in Katayamazu Onsen, remember to check the lake’s color throughout the day as the color of the lake changes dramatically seven times a day (depending on the weather)!

Summer is probably the most lively time of the year in Katayamazu Onsen, with various festivals held one after another. The fireworks launched at the lakeside are what many tourists around the country come to Katayamazu Onsen for. In winter, migratory birds from Siberia can be spotted resting around the lake.

Apart from the access information of each of the attractions below, you can get more detailed information about the transportation and discount tickets in the Kaga region from our Kaga City article.

Katayamazu Onsen’s Cherry Blossom Season

The cherry blossom season at Katayamazu Onsen is usually from early to mid-April. If you happen to be at the onsen town in spring, head to the places below for the stunning national flower of Japan!

  • Shibayama Gatakohan Park (柴山潟湖畔公園) next to the Nakaya Ukichiro Museum of Snow and Ice
  • Aizenji Temple

Lake Shibayama Cruise (片山津温泉屋形船)

© 石川県観光連盟

Board the boat for a cruise around Lake Shibayama if you want to get closer to the giant water fountain in the middle of the lake and/or get a photo of the Ukimi-dō Hall (浮御堂) that seems as though it is floating on the lake.

And if you happen to be at Katayamazu Onsen in summer, the cruise is a must to enjoy the fireworks launching into the nighttime sky during summer festivals!

Lake Shibayama Cruise’s Operating Hours, Costs, and Fireworks

  • Reservation and check-in are at Kappa-dō (かっぱ堂), close to the pier
  • The daytime cruise is operating on weekends and public holidays from the end of April to the end of September
    • Sundays and public holidays: from 10 am to 3 pm
    • Saturdays and during Obon Festival in mid-August: from 2 pm to 5:30 pm
    • You can refer to their operating calendar HERE for the exact dates that the boat will be running
    • The departure time isn’t set. You might need to wait for up to 30 minutes if there is a queue
  • There are two services each night for the lighting show from the end of April to the end of September. Please book your seats by 5:30 pm and arrive 15 minutes before departure
    • The departure time for the two services are 8:15 pm and 9:15 pm 
    • When the fireworks are on, only one service will depart at 8:45 pm
    • Please reserve your seat by 5 pm for the check in between 8 and 8:30 pm
  • The 30-minute cruise will usually cost 800 yen
  • Firework cruises will cost 1,500 yen for adults and 1,000 yen for children

© 石川県観光連盟

Fireworks at Lake Shibayama in Summer

In 2021, from the 1st to the 29th of August, fireworks will be launched at Lake Shibayama from 9 pm for around 10 minutes.

How to Get to Lake Shibayama

From JR Kagaonsen Station (加賀温泉駅), take one of the bus services below:

  • Kaga Tour Bus – CANBUS’s (加賀周遊バス キャン・バス) sea route (海まわり) or Komatsu Airport route (小松空港線) and get off at Katayamazu Onsen Yunomoto Park (片山津温泉・湯の元公園)
  • Kaga Onsen Bus (加賀温泉バス)’s Onsen Katayamazu Line (温泉片山津線) from JR Kagaonsen Station west exit’s bus stop no. 1 and get off at Katayamazu-go Ku (片山津5区). The bathhouse is less than a 5-minute walk from the bus stop

  • For the service’s timetable, please refer to the timetable in the middle on the right-hand side of the web page HERE
    • A one-way trip will cost you 250 yen

Giant Water Fountain at Lake Shibayama (柴山潟巨大噴水)

At the center of Lake Shibayama lies one of Japan’s biggest water fountains. The water ejecting out can reach as high as 70 meters!

The water fountain show is scheduled on an hourly interval from 7 am to 9 pm, and extra shows also start at 5:30 pm, 8:30 pm, and 9:30 pm. In July and August, the show will also be on at 3:30 pm and 4:30 pm.

If you are planning to cruise on the lake, time your boarding time so you get to experience all that Lake Shibayama has to offer!

Ukimi-dō Hall Uki Uki Benten (浮御堂 うきうき弁天)

At the end of the pier of Lake Shibayama lies the small worship hall that enshrines Benten (the goddess of music, wealth, and water) and the dragon god who looks after the lake.

© photo-ac.com

According to local legend, the dragon god was an eight-headed giant serpent that attacked villagers at night. Responding to villagers’ prayers, the Healing Buddha sent Benten to transform the serpent into a dragon god by the melody from her Japanese lute and ordered the dragon to become the guardian god of the village.

Soon after the dragon god went back into the lake water, a hot spring was found springing forth from Lake Shibayama, which brought such fortune to the locals that they built the worship hall as a display of appreciation.

Light-up events are held each night here and also at the water fountain for you to enjoy your nighttime stroll even more!

Kaga Katayamazu Public Bathhouse (片山津温泉 総湯)

If you have ever wondered what the modern glass-paneled building standing at the side of Lake Shibayama is, it is the public bathhouse of Katayamazu Onsen.

The bathhouse that went through a complete renovation and re-opened in 2012 has an appearance that is totally different from our Japanese bathhouse stereotype.

Designed by Yoshio Taniguchi (谷口吉生), who has architectural works internationally, the onsen pool that has a lake view was designed for you to feel like you are bathing in Lake Shibayama itself! The other onsen pool, facing a dense garden, was designed for people to have an illusion of bathing in a forest.

© 石川県観光連盟

As their onsen pools aren’t divided into two separate sections for both genders to experience both onsen pools, the pool in front of the lake – Kata no Yu (潟の湯), is female-only on days with an odd number. On days with an even number, it will be male-only.

If public bathing isn’t your type of thing, head to their Machi Cafe (まちカフェ) on the second floor to relax on the outdoor terrace with a panoramic view of Lake Shibayama (^_-)-☆.

Tip: The facility is also popular amongst the locals. We will advise you not to utilize it if it is crowded or you might need to wait for a shower space and/or hairdryer.

Important: Toiletries and towels aren’t provided free of charge.

Why Is the Bathhouse Called Sōyu

Kaga Katayamazu City Spa is pronoucned as Katayamazu Onsen Sōyu.

The term “Sōyu” is only found in Ishikawa Prefecture. The word “Sō (総, originally 惣)” refers to something that is owned by the general public. The locals treat the hot springs as god’s blessing, which should be treated as a public good and enjoyed by all members of the society.

Kaga Katayamazu City Spa’s Opening Hours, Costs, and Access Information

From JR Kagaonsen Station (加賀温泉駅), take one of the bus services below:

  • Kaga Tour Bus – CANBUS (加賀周遊バス キャン・バス)’s sea route (海まわり) or Komatsu Airport route (小松空港線) and get off at Katayamazu Onsen Sōyu (加賀片山津温泉 総湯)
  • Kaga Onsen Bus (加賀温泉バス)’s Onsen Katayamazu Line (温泉片山津線) from JR Kagaonsen Station west exit’s bus stop no. 1 and get off at Katayamazu Onsen Sōyu-mae (片山津温泉総湯前). The bathhouse is just a one-minute walk from the bus stop
    • For the service’s timetable, please refer to the timetable in the middle on the right-hand side of the page HERE
    • A one-way trip will cost you 250 yen
  • The onsen pool is open from 6 am to 10 pm
  • The cafe is open from 11 am to 5 pm daily except Thursdays
  • The cost is
    • 460 yen for adults
    • 130 yen for children who are between 6 and 11
    • 150 yen for children between 3 and 5

Hanayakata (芸妓検番 花館)

Hanayakata, just two blocks away from the City Spa, was completed in 1920 for geisha and maiko to practice their traditional performance art skills.

As there are currently no geisha or maiko in Katayamazu Onsen, the facility is utilized as space for workshops such as tofu making and cloth dyeing. There is also a cafe serving delicious traditional desserts!

© KAGA旅・まちネット

What is worthwhile to mention is the water that is used to make the tofu and the dyeing material are all sourced from Lake Shibayama. The completed tofu will therefore contain more minerals and calcium, making it healthier and different from the tofu you have had so far!

  • Tofu making
    • The workshop is from 10 am to 4 pm
    • It takes around 20 minutes for the activity
    • The cost is 500 yen
  • Clothes dyeing
    • The workshop is from 10 am to 4 pm with a lunch break from 12 to 1 pm
    • It takes around 40 to 90 minutes, depending on the cloth that you chose to dye
    • The cost is 1,000 yen for handkerchief dying and 2,000 yen for scarf dying
    • The material of the cloth is 100% silk

Hanayakata’s Opening Hours and Access Information

  • The facility/cafe is open from 9 am to 5 pm daily except Thursdays

From JR Kagaonsen Station (加賀温泉駅), take one of the bus services below:

  • Kaga Tour Bus – CANBUS (加賀周遊バス キャン・バス)’s sea route (海まわり) or Komatsu Airport route (小松空港線) and get off at Katayamazu Onsen Sōyu (加賀片山津温泉 総湯). The facility is a 2-minute walk from the bus stop
  • Kaga Onsen Bus (加賀温泉バス)’s Onsen Katayamazu Line (温泉片山津線) from JR Kagaonsen Station west exit’s bus stop no. 1 and get off at Katayamazu Onsen (片山津温泉). The facility is just a one-minute walk from the bus stop

Aizenji Temple (愛染寺)

Located on a hill close to Lake Shibayama, Aizenji Temple is where the Healing Buddha – Yakushi Nyorai (薬師如来), who sent Benten to save the village, is enshrined. It is an excellent spot for a wide view of the town, Lake Shibayama, and Mt. Haku from afar on a sunny day.

© 愛染寺
© 愛染寺

Since 2015, the temple, however, has been best known for its heart shape ema (wooden plaque). Aizenmyōō (愛染明王), the god that is enshrined at its Gomadō Hall (護摩堂), is in charge of marriage ties. The ema at Aizenji Temple differs from ema elsewhere in Japan in that the plaque comes in two parts. The red heart in the middle of the plaque is removable.

So you first write your prayer at the back of the heart, then fit it into the ema frame like fitting a puzzle while sincerely praying in your head before hanging it at the designated area at one side of the temple.

If you like glass art, check out the stained glass at the Gomadō Hall. Glass art is also found at the ossuary of the temple.

Moreover, a unique piece of hand-drawn glass painting decorates the door of each shelving unit that stores each individual’s remains (refer to the photo on the right).

© 愛染寺

Tip: The staircases leading to the gate can be tiring to climb. If you have a car, you can drive all the way up (there is a car park at the temple), or walking at the side of the driveway should be less tiring (but watch out for the traffic).

Lanterns Floating (灯籠流し) at Lake Shibayama

© 愛染寺

On the 16th of August each year, at the end of the Obon Festival, a lantern floating event is held by the temple at Lake Shibayama at night, making it another nice summer event at Katayamazu Onsen.

The lanterns are floated from the cruising boat, so if you are interested, don’t forget to reserve y our spot during the day (^_-)-☆. The event usually starts at 8 pm, but please confirm with the cruise ticket office when you visit.

Important: Whether you are just enjoying the event from the lakeshore or actually floating a lantern yourself, remember to apply insect repellant. You really don’t want to become the feed of the bugs that are particularly active in the area at night.

Aizenji Temple’s Opening Hours and Access Information

  • The temple is open from 6:30 am to 5 pm
  • From Katayamazu Onsen Sōyu (加賀片山津温泉 総湯) bus stop, it is a 5-minute walk (it may take longer depending on how fast you climb the stairs)
  • From Onsen Katayamazu Line (温泉片山津線)’s bus stop – Katayamazu Onsen (片山津温泉), it is a 3-minute walk

Nakaya Ukichiro Museum of Snow and Ice (中谷宇吉郎雪の科学館)

© 石川県観光連盟

For those passionate about scientific museums, remember to drop by Nakaya Ukichiro Museum of Snow and Ice when you visit Katayamazu Onsen.

Even if you don’t understand the Japanese explanation of how artificial snow and ice crystals are made, you should be able to have fun browsing through the images and illustrations in the display area.

What is more interesting is that you can become a scientist in their ice crystal zone, creating your first ice pendant! In their experiment zone, you will see how diamond dust can be created artificially as well (=゚ω゚)ノ.

For more information about the museum, please refer to their English website HERE. While it doesn’t provide as much information as to their Japanese website, it is still useful.

Nakaya Ukichiro Museum of Snow and Ice’s Opening Hours, Admission Fees, and Access Information

  • The museum is open from 9 am to 5 pm daily except Wednesdays unless it is a public holiday
    • The last admission is at 4:30 pm
  • The admission fee is
    • 560 yen for senior high school students and above
    • 280 yen for anyone who is above 75 years of age
    • Free otherwise

From JR Kagaonsen Station (加賀温泉駅), take one of the bus services below:

  • Kaga Tour Bus – CANBUS (加賀周遊バス キャン・バス)’s sea route (海まわり) or Komatsu Airport route (小松空港線) and get off at Nakaya Ukichiro Museum of Snow and Ice (中谷宇吉郎雪の科学館)
  • Kaga Onsen Bus (加賀温泉バス)’s Onsen Katayamazu Line (温泉片山津線) from JR Kagaonsen Station west exit’s bus stop no. 1 and get off at Yuki no Kagakukan-mae (雪の科学館前). The museum is just one min walk from the bus stop

Sabō Misho (茶房実生)

Sabō Misho is a Japanese tea maker since 1863. It is not only a place where you can taste delicious seasonal Japanese sweets, but you can also take a look at their tea leaf factory that is just next to the cafe!

In their gallery, various kinds of cultural related exhibitions such as flower arrangements are on periodically.

Important: If you are interested to see the inside of their factory, come on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday morning or you will have to book a time slot with them in advance.

Sabo Misho’s Opening Hours and Access Information

  • The cafe is open from 10 am to 12 pm and from 1 pm to 4:30 pm
    • The last order is taken at 11:30 am and 4 pm
  • The cafe is closed on Wednesdays. If Wednesday is a public holiday, it will close on Thursday instead
  • It is a 15-minute walk from JR Iburihashi Station (動橋駅) or around a 30-minute walk from Lake Shibayama

Find out Other Exciting Attractions in Kaga Onsen Region

Yamanaka Onsen is just one of 6 areas in the large Kaga Onsen Resort (加賀温泉). Kaga Onsen has an abundance of nature with promenades for those who fancy a stroll or even a hike into the stunning nature for a getaway from the busy urban lifestyle.

For more information on other attractions close to Yamanaka Onsen, please refer to our Kaga Onsen article!

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