Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Yamashiro Onsen – An Onsen Town Where Kutani Ware Revived

Yamashiro Onsen (山代温泉), the biggest onsen town in the Kaga region, is a popular hot spring destination for onsen aficionados. With facilities providing different types of onsen, tourists often spend most of their stay in Yamashiro Onsen, indulging themselves in one onsen pool after another.

The town is also where Kutani ware was revived. Museums and galleries are scattered throughout the town for all the pottery lovers to explore the history and the beauty of this local specialty.

Below is a list of attractions you might want to visit when you come to Yamashiro Onsen!

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.

The Fall Foliage Season at Yamashiro Onsen Town

The autumn foliage season at Yamashiro Onsen Town usually starts at the end of October and peaks towards mid-November each year.

Kosōyu Public Bathhouse (山代温泉 古総湯)

Located at the center of Yamashiro Onsen Town, Kosōyu Public Bathhouse is the town’s symbol. Restored in 2010 from a public bathhouse from the Meiji Period (1868 – 1912), it is a place where you can time travel to 200 years in the past to experience how the Japanese used to bathe.

The interior of the bathhouse is exactly what it looked like in the Meiji Period, with stained glass windows, lacquer-covered walls, and Kutani ware tile flooring.

© 石川県観光連盟
© 石川県観光連盟

The facilities inside the bathhouse replicate a bathhouse of the Meiji Era. There is no shower area where you can wash up your body and/or hair before entering the onsen pool. There is no dressing room either, but a shelf where you can leave your clothes and belongings.

Important: Please note shampoo and body soap are not allowed in this facility. So please wash your body by pouring the hot spring in the pool on yourself before you enter the pool.

Tip: If you play to stay overnight at Yamashiro Onsen, you can take a shower at your accommodation first. If you are on a day trip, get a combo ticket to access both Kosōyu Public Bathhouse. This way, you can wash up and enjoy the onsen at Sōyu Public Bathhouse before heading to Kosōyu Public Bathhouse!

After the onsen, you can chill out at the resting area on the second floor, where you can get a wide view of the onsen town while enjoying some cold tea or water (^_-)-☆.

Tips:
☛ You will have a high chance of having the onsen pool to yourself if you come in the morning on weekdays.
☛ If the hot spring is too hot, talk to the staff. They might be able to cool it down a bit for you.

Kosōyu Public Bathhouse’s Opening Hours, Costs, and Access Information

  • The bathhouse is open from 6 am to 10 pm daily except the 4th Wednesday of each month when it will start operating from 12 pm
  • To bathe at the Kosōyu Public Bathhouse,
    • 500 yen for adults
    • 200 yen: between the age of 6 and 11
    • 100 yen: between the age of 3 to 5
    • Free otherwise
  • The combo ticket allows you access to both Kosōyu Public Bathhouse and Sōyu Public Bathhouse
    • 700 yen: adults
    • 250 yen: between the age of 6 and 11
    • 120 yen: between the age of 3 to 5

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) mountain route (山まわり) and get off at Yamashiro Onsen Sō Yu (山代温泉総湯)
  • Kaga Onsen Bus’s (加賀温泉バス) Onsen Yamanaka Line (温泉山中線) from JR Kagaonsen Station west exit’s bus stop no. 2 and get off at Yamashiro Onsen (山代温泉). The bathhouse is less than a 5-minute walk from the bus stop
    • For the service’s timetable, please refer to the top left table on their website HERE
    • A one-way trip will cost 250 yen

Sōyu Public Bathhouse (山代温泉総湯)

© KAGA旅・まちネット

Compared to the “museum” type of public bathhouse – Kosōyu, the Sōyu Public Bathhouse was built for anyone to have a relaxing bathing time.

Apart from the onsen, you can also enjoy the soft serve ice cream, which is their shop’s most popular menu item!

Note there is no private onsen pool, as it is a typical onsen facility.

Unlike the Kosōyu Public Bathhouse next door, the Kutani ware tiles in this bathhouse are embedded in the wall, with varying patterns, all hand-painted. With a large skylight on the ceiling, you can almost enjoy the onsen while sunbathing (´▽`*).

One thing to note about this bathhouse is that it is popular amongst the locals. This means it can be really crowded from late afternoon, especially during public holidays.

© KAGA旅・まちネット

Sōyu Public Bathhouse’s Opening Hours, Costs, and Access Information

  • The bathhouse is open from 6 am to 10 pm daily except the 4th Wednesday of each month when it will start operating from 12 pm
  • To bathe at the Kosōyu Public Bathhouse,
    • 460 yen for adults
    • 130 yen: between the age of 6 and 11
    • 50 yen: between the age of 3 to 5
  • The combo ticket allows you access to both Kosōyu Public Bathhouse and Sōyu Public Bathhouse
    • 700 yen for adults
    • 250 yen: between the age of 6 and 11
    • 120 yen: between the age of 3 to 5
  • The bathhouse is just next to Kosōyu Public Bathhouse

Yakuōin Onsenji Temple (薬王院温泉寺)

Next to the Kosōyu Public Bathhouse is the home of the Buddha, who looks after the onsen town. Apart from the main Buddha – Yakushi Nyorai (薬師如来), there are also statues of many other Buddhas and gods placed around the precinct of the temple.

An interesting fact about the temple for those who know Japanese is that the monk who invented the Japanese syllabary – Myōkaku Shōnin (明覚上人), was the first head monk of the temple. This is why you will find Hiragana on the ground of the alley leading to the promenade to Banshōen Park (萬松園) at the top of the hill. From there, you will get a panoramic view of the Yamashiro Onsen, the Hakusan mountain range (白山連峰) close by, and even the Sea of Japan!

While the temple’s history is a lot longer, most parts were destroyed during the civil war in the Sengoku Period (1467 – 1615). As peace returned to the beautiful country in the early 17th century, the temple was restored by the first lord of the Kaga Domain.

In November, as Yamashiro Onsen’s representative autumn foliage destination, the temple is a lot more lively, with all the tourists strolling around hunting for the best spot for photography (*´ω`).

A.I.U.E.O’s Alley

Passing the main worship hall, there is a set of stone staircases. Pay attention to the stairs because you will see some square tiles made of the local specialty – Kutani ware (九谷焼) of Japanese Hiragana!

If you know Hiragana, it might be fun to track down all 44 of them (^_-)-☆.

For those interested in the Shikoku Pilgrimage, there are small worship halls along the promenade, each representing one of the 88 temples in Shikoku.

© 石川県観光連盟

How to Get to Yakuōin Onsenji Temple

From JR Kagaonsen Station (加賀温泉駅), take Kaga Onsen Bus’s (加賀温泉バス) Onsen Yamanaka Line (温泉山中線) from JR Kagaonsen Station west exit’s bus stop no. 2 and get off at Yamashiro Onsen (山代温泉). From there, it is a 5-minute walk.

  • For the service’s timetable, please refer to the top left table on their website HERE.
  • A one-way trip will cost 250 yen.

Hatori Shrine (服部神社)

Next to Yakuōin Onsenji Temple is a shrine that enshrines a god who looks after weaving and sewing techniques.

According to Hatori Shrine’s historical documentation, the shrine that stood since the early 8th century was much grander than the current one restored in 1875.

The shrine is known for a giant tree over 200 years old and the adjoining forest.

From 6 to 10 each night, the staircases from the torii gate to the shrine’s main gate will be beautifully illuminated for you to have a relaxing nighttime stroll if you are staying overnight in the town.

© 石川県観光連盟

How to Get to Hatori Shrine

The shrine is just next to Yakuōin Onsenji Temple.

Hazuchio Gakudō (はづちを楽堂)

Another must-visit place in Yamashiro Onsen Town is Hazuchio Gakudō. Located in the block next to the Kosōyu Public Bathhouse, it is the perfect place to chill out after an onsen session!

Hazuchio Gakudō is the town’s community center where people gather for cultural and performance art events. There is also an old-fashioned cafe – Hazuchio Chamise (はづちを茶店). It offers dishes made from fresh local produce presented in Kutani ware and/or Yamanaka lacquerware, as well as a souvenir shop – Ninuriya (丹塗り屋) where you can get various souvenirs from everyday miscellaneous goods to traditional crafts!

On the 1st and the 3rd Sunday from March to December, morning markets are held from 7 am for around an hour. It is the perfect occasion for some cheap fruits, vegetables, pickles…etc.

© 石川県観光連盟

Hazuchio Gakudō’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • The cafe and the souvenir shop’s business hours are from categories on the calendar HERE
    • On the days that are marked with a circle, the business hours are from 9:30 am to 5 pm
    • For those that are marked with a square, the business hours are extended to 6 pm
    • On the days that are marked with a star sign, only the cafe is open from 9:30 am to 5 pm

Rosanjin’s Iroha Sōan (魯山人寓居跡 いろは草庵)

Rosanjin’s Iroha Sōan is another main attraction in Yamashiro Onsen.

Rosanjin was a famous artist who mastered calligraphy, seal engraving, painting, ceramics, lacquering, and cooking. This house is where he resided during his six months in Yamashiro Onsen, where he especially honed his skills in pottery.

© 石川県観光連盟
© 石川県観光連盟

While his work on display is limited in this residence, it is a great place to get some understanding of how an artist’s house looked back in the early 20th century in Japan.

You can also enjoy a cup of Kaga Bōcha Tea (加賀棒茶) and Japanese confectionary that is served in Yamanaka lacquerware tray and Kutani ware cups and plates with a nice garden view.

Rosanjin’s Iroha Sōan’s Opening Hours, Entry Fee, 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 mountain route (山まわり) and get off at Banshoen-dori Street Rosanjin Residence Iroha Soan Hut (万松園通・魯山人寓居跡いろは草庵) and walk for 5 minutes
  • Kaga Onsen Bus (加賀温泉バス)’s Onsen Yamanaka Line (温泉山中線) from JR Kagaonsen Station west exit’s bus stop no. 2 and get off at Yamashiro Onsen (山代温泉). The residence is less than a 10-minute walk from the bus stop
    • For the service’s timetable, please refer to the top left table on their website HERE
    • A one-way trip will cost 250 yen
  • The residence is open from 9 am to 5 pm daily except Wednesday (unless it is a public holiday)
    • The last admission is at 4:30 pm
  • The entry fee is
    • 560 yen for adults
    • 280 yen for anyone who is 75 years old and above
© KAGA旅・まちネット

Yamashiro Onsen is a place known for the revival of Kutani ware (九谷焼). Kutani ware, one of the types of Japanese pottery that originated in Kaga, has patterns with vivid colors drawn on ceramic.

Coco is a Kutani ware gallery in Yamashiro Onsen’s town center that sells a variety of Kutani ware such as cups and plates. Fashionable crafts by local craft artists are also on display.

It is also the perfect place for a Kutani painting session (booking is usually not required). You will be going through a full-scale painting process using the same tools and paints used by the Kutani ware artists. Even if painting isn’t something you are good at, they have tools where you can just do the coloring without drawing the whole image yourself!

Important: If you don’t have a Japanese address, check with the shop to see if they can ship the completed product overseas before you start your painting session. You won’t be able to take your Kutani ware straight after the session as extra processes must be applied to the ceramic.

Coco Gallery’s Opening Hours and Access Information

  • The gallery is open from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm daily
    • The last admission to the Kutani ware painting session is at 4:30 pm
  • The gallery is closed on Thursdays unless it is a public holiday
  • The cost for the Kutani ware painting session starts from 1,500 yen. The price excludes shipping
  • From the bus stop – Yamashiro Onsen Sō Yu (山代温泉総湯), it is only 10 meters away
  • From the bus stop – Yamashiro Onsen (山代温泉). The bathhouse is less than a 5-minute walk from the bus stop

Bengara-ya (べんがらや)

For a place to enjoy an afternoon tea, come to Bengara-ya for its Kaga Bōcha Tea (加賀棒茶) flavored desserts that are served with local specialties such as Kutani ware and/or Yamanaka lacquerware!

Kaga Bōcha Tea is a type of tea that is special to the Kaga region. Instead of tea leaves, it is the tea stalks that are roasted. They also have a special parfait that is filled with freshly harvested local vegetables and fruit called Kaga’s Fresh Vegetable Parfait (加賀のフレッシュ野菜パフェ).

Note that depending on the season, the parfait might have sponge cake that contains eggs, so please check with the staff before ordering. If you need help with communication, you can utilize our Essential Japanese Travel Phrases for Vegetarians and Vegans article.

The cafe also has a lunch menu that looks quite tasty, but we are still confirming with them if they can replace the meat and seafood with more vegetables.

Bengara-ya’s Opening Hours and Access Information

  • The cafe is open from 10 am to 5:30 pm daily, with lunch serves between 11 am to 3 pm
  • The cafe is closed on Wednesdays. If Wednesday is a public holiday, it will close on Thursday instead

Handmade Soba Kaga Uesugi (手打ちそば 加賀上杉)

If you want to taste the kind of soba that was served to the current Japanese emperor, you will want to have your lunch at Kaga Uesugi.

What is so special about the soba noodle here is it is pure white in color, compared to the normal dark greenish noodles you get elsewhere. Why is it white? Because the noodles were made from the core of the buckwheat. The noodles are made fresh each morning, and their delicious tempura made from fresh produce is only deep-fried after an order is received.

One thing to note is that the number of serves of noodles made each day is limited, so make sure you head to the restaurant as early as possible!

Important: While they should be able to replace the non-vegetable tempura with vegetable ones, you will have to bring your dipping sauce if you are strict with your vegetarian diet as their sauce contains seafood extract.

Tip: Depending on the day of your visit, they might serve you free soba tea, soba porridge, or deep-fried dough cookie made from soba. Make sure you check with them about these tasty freebies when you visit!

  • Kaga Uesugi is open from 11:30 am to 3 pm from Thursday to Monday.
    • The last order is at 2:30 pm.
  • The average cost at the restaurant is 1,200 yen.

Kutaniyaki Kiln Museum (九谷焼窯跡展示館)

© 石川県観光連盟

To all the pottery lovers, Kutaniyaki Kiln Museum, or Kutaniyaki Kamaato Tenjikan in Japanese, is a great place to drop by to see the trace of a kiln that was built in the Edo period (1603 – 1867) and the oldest Kutani ware kiln in existence. Of course, apart from the kiln, special and regular exhibitions of Kutani ware are also held at the museum’s exhibition hall.

In the museum’s Kutani ware studio, which was recreated from the old residence of Kutani ware artisans, you can learn the process of making Kutani ware.

Although most explanations of the tools and equipment are in Japanese, videos, and pictures are there to help paint the big picture.

The museum also holds short ceramic paintings and pottery-making sessions for visitors to participate in. But just note they might not be able to ship the finished product overseas.

  • Ceramic paintings:
    • Time required: at least 1.5 hours
    • Cost: from 2,000 yen depending on the type and the size of the ceramic chosen
  • Pottery-making:
    • Time required: at least 1 hour
    • Cost: from 3,000 yen
  • PRINT THIS out for a 5% off on the cost of the workshops

Tip: The participants of the workshops can get coupons that can be used at various shops and restaurants in Yamashiro Onsen.

© 石川県観光連盟

Kutaniyaki Kiln Museum’s Opening Hours, Admission Fee, and Access Information

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) mountain route (山まわり) and get off at Kutaniyaki Kiln Exhibition Pavilion (九谷焼窯跡展示館) and walk for 2 mins
  • Kaga Onsen Bus (加賀温泉バス)’s Onsen Yamanaka Line (温泉山中線) from JR Kagaonsen Station west exit’s bus stop no. 2 and get off at Yamashiro Onsen (山代温泉). The museum is less than a 10-minute walk from the bus stop
    • For the service’s timetable, please refer to the top left table on their website HERE
    • A one-way trip will cost 250 yen
  • The museum is open from 9 am to 5 pm daily except Tuesday (unless it is a public holiday).
    • The last admission is at 4:30 pm
  • The entry fee is below
    • 350 yen for high school students and above
    • 170 yen for anyone who is 75 years old and above

Ōsegimiya Park (大堰宮公園)

Although located away from the town center, if you are coming to Yamashiro Onsen Town in early to mid-April, Ōsegimiya Park is the perfect place to admire the cherry blossom!

With the Daishōji River (大聖寺川) flowing on one side of the park, it is also a great place to chill out in summer. And if you love cycling, rent out a bicycle from one of the local rental shops, and off you go on the cycling road (^_-)-☆.

In autumn, the park is also one of the popular places for the fall foliage that attracts people away from the lively town center.

How to Get to Osegimiya Park

  • From Kosōyu Public Bathhouse, it is around a 15-minute walk
  • Kaga Tour Bus – CANBUS’s (加賀周遊バス キャン・バス) mountain route (山まわり) and get off at Yamashiro Onsen Kikyogaoka (山代温泉桔梗丘) and walk for 5 minutes
  • Kaga Onsen Bus (加賀温泉バス)’s Onsen Yamanaka Line (温泉山中線) from JR Kagaonsen Station west exit’s bus stop no. 2 and get off at Yamashiro Onsen Nishiguchi (山代温泉西口). The residence is less than a 10-minute walk from the bus stop

Find out Other Exciting Attractions in Kaga Onsen

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!

Kakusenkei-Gorge-Yamanaka-Onsen-Ishikawa-Japan
Click the photo to find out more about this stunning place!

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