While there are plenty of historical attractions in Kanazawa, the city is quite modern. If you are seeking a spot that is quieter and less touristy, Yuwaku Onsen (湯涌温泉), which is 60 minutes away by bus from Kanazawa’s city center, can be a great choice. The hot spring town, with a history as long as 1,300 years, is surrounded by rich nature and a different type of traditional atmosphere to the tea house districts in Kanazawa. It is also where the anime – Hanasaku Iroha (花咲くいろは) that was broadcasted in 2011 was modeled on!
Also, Twice a year, a special event that has been held since the Edo period (1603 – 1867) will take place at a small traditional hut close to the artificial lake in the innermost part of the town.
How to Get to Yuwaku Onsen
From JR Kanazawa Station’s (金沢駅) east exit bus stop no. 6, take route 12, Yuwaku Line (湯涌線), and get off at the terminal stop – Yuwaku Onsen (湯涌温泉).
- For the service’s timetable, please click HERE and refer to route 12.
- In the comment column at the left, if it has “日曜” and “祝日”, it means the service will only operate on Sundays and public holidays. If it has “土曜”, the service will only operate on Saturdays.
Yuwaku Hot Spring Sightseeing Information Center (湯涌温泉観光協会)
If you are coming by bus, after you get off at the bus stop – Yuwaku Onsen (湯涌温泉), walk backward to head towards the Asano River (浅野川) for a map of the onsen town. It will list all the attractions and promenades in the area for you.
Or, if you are staying overnight, you might be able to find this information from the reception of your hotel or Ryokan.
From Yuwaku Hot Spring Sightseeing Information Center, most of the onsen ryokans, cafés, and restaurants are along the town’s main street.
Something that differentiates Yuwaku Onsen from the other onsen towns in Japan is the amount of gold leaf used for decorations. It makes the whole town extra shiny (^_-)-☆.
Remember to return to the main street as the day gets dark. The view you will get at dusk will have a unique melancholy kind of atmosphere!
Shirasagi’s Foot Bath (白鷺の足湯)
One of the most popular spots in Yuwaku Onsen is Shirasagi’s Foot Bath. The free facility, opened in 2009, is the perfect spot to warm up in colder months.
At the center of the bath, the story of how the hot spring was found is carved on the stone.
In short, it was discovered by a papermaking craftsman in 718. At the time, an egret was healing itself in the hot spring. As the craftsman got closer, he saw the hot spring gushing out from the ground. This is why the town was named “Yuwaku”, which literally just means hot gushing water in Japanese.
The foot bath is available for anyone from 9 am to 9 pm daily except on the third Thursday of each month.
Yuwakuinari Shrine (湯涌稲荷神社) and Iozen Yakushi Temple (医王山 薬師寺)
At the back of Shirasagi’s Foot Bath, this wide set of staircases leads to both Yuwakuinari Shrine and Iozen Yakushi Temple.
The paper lantern at the side of the staircases is lit up from late July to early October, giving visitors another reason to stay overnight at Yuwaku Onsen!
Yuwaki Bonbori Festival (湯涌ぼんぼり祭り)
Anime really does have its influence on people. We are not talking about the Otaku culture in Akihabara, but the Yuwaki Bonbori Festival in Yuwaki Onsen.
The festival was actually a made-up event in the anime – Hanasaku Iroha (花咲くいろは) that was modeled on the onsen town. But, after the anime was broadcasted, the locals actually really made it into a regular festival that takes place in early October each year at Yuwakuinari Shrine Σ(ﾟДﾟ).
For more information, please refer to Yuwaku Onsen Tourism Association’s website HERE.
Yuwaku Onsen Public Bath (湯涌温泉総湯 白鷺の湯)
The Yuwaku Onsen Public Bath is another popular spot at Yuwaku Onsen, with customers utilizing the facility as early as 7 am. If you are comfortable with bathing with strangers, it is a facility to enjoy the local onsen.
The cost to bathe here is actually cheaper than many day-trip onsen facilities across the country. But, you will have to bring your own toiletry bag. Items that are considered essential for bathing, such as towels, soap, and shampoo, aren’t provided free of charge here.
There is a ticket vending machine at the entrance of the facility. Please get a ticket before you head to the front desk inside.
You will need a 100 yen coin to use the coin-operated lockers for your valuables. As the coin will be returned to you when you take your things out, don’t forget to retrieve your coin, or it will become a donation to the bathhouse (´▽｀*).
Yuwaku Onsen Public Bath’s Opening Hours, Costs, and Access Information
- The public bath is open from 7 am to 10 pm daily except the 3rd Thursday of each month.
- The cost is
- 420 yen for junior high school students and above
- 130 yen for elementary school students
- 50 yen for preschool children
Lake Gyokusen (玉泉湖)
You will enter a foresty area at the end of the main street of Yuwaku Onsen. There are well-maintained tracks around the artificial lake for anyone who fancies a relaxing 15-minute walk in nature.
If you enjoy hiking, some trailheads lead to the summit of the mountains close by for a challenge.
Icehouse Hut (氷室小屋)
On one side of the lake, you will notice this small hut that makes you wonder who might be living there.
The hut was used for ice storage back in the Edo period, storing the winter snow for the Tokugawa Shogunate to enjoy in mid-summer.
At the time, ice is hard to come by in the hot summer without modern technology. So it was a precious gift the rich used to give to their superiors.
Although now there is no shogunate that the region needs to send the ice to, the traditional event is still practised each year on the last Sunday of January to store the snow. The ice is then taken out from the hut on the 30th of June, ready to be offered to the Buddha in Iozen Yakushi Temple the next day.
Fireflies at Yuwaku Onsen
If you visit Kanazawa between late June and early July, we highly recommend you spend a night at Yuwaku Onsen for the fireflies at Lake Gyokusen.
On a Saturday in early July, the town will also hold a firefly-watching event – Firefly Night (ホタルＮＩＧＨＴ), involving alcohol.
In 202, this event will be held on the 25th of June from 8 pm to 9:30 pm if you are interested.
Yuwaku Morning Market (湯涌朝市)
Wake up early for the Yuwaku Morning Market!
On Sunday from 7 am to 8:30 am between mid-April to mid-December, at Yuwaku Midori-no-Sato (湯涌みどりの里), a morning market will be on. Apart from the fresh, locally grown vegetables, there will also be various kinds of rice cake products on sale.
So, where to stay for the night?
Hyakurakusō is an onsen ryokan that not only can cater to special dietary requirements if you advise them in advance but there are also free pickup and drop-off services!
What is even better is there are private onsen baths you can reserve for free! So you can enjoy the spacious public bath, and when you need some privacy, two of the four smaller onsen pools are there waiting for you (^_-)-☆.
There is also a premium private bath that you can book for 3,300 yen extra for 50 minutes. For the splendid look, please refer to their website HERE.
Important: The onsen facilities at Hyakurakusō are only open to guests staying overnight at the ryokan.
The pickup and drop-off services are from and to JR Kanazawa Station (金沢駅) or Kenrokuen Garden (兼六園).
- Pick-up from JR Kanazawa Station is at 2:45 pm or 4:45 pm. From Kenrokuen Garden, it is at 3 pm and 5 pm.
- Drop-off services departing the ryokan are at 9:30 am or 11 am. The shuttle bus will make a few stops before it stops at JR Kanazawa Station at 10:10 am or 11:40 am
- 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa (金沢21世紀美術館): Estimated arrival time is 9:50, and 11:20 am
- Ōmichō Market (近江町市場): Estimated arrival time is 10 am and 11:30 am
Important: Please advise the ryokan of your intention to utilize both the pickup and drop-off services in advance. They won’t be able to accept your request if you only tell them on the day.
Asanokawa-Onsen Yuraku (浅の川温泉 湯楽)
If you are traveling with someone who requires a wheelchair to move around, Asanokawa-Onsen Yuraku has a barrier-free hot spring open-air onsen bath. Your friend or family can enjoy the onsen while sitting in their wheelchair!
For a photo of their facility, please refer to Ryokan’s website HERE.
For those who prefer private bathing time, you can rent out the private bath at Ryokan Yamane for 1,500 yen on top of the accommodation charges.
Although we haven’t been able to confirm with the ryokan if they cater to a vegetarian diet, another thing worth mentioning is their super stylish hearth dining table where guests can enjoy their dinner/breakfast!
For a photo of the table, please refer to the first photo on their website HERE.
☛ The accommodation plan that you will have meals at the hearth dining table is pricier than other plans.
☛ They currently don’t take any day-trip visitors.
Another ryokan that has a private bath facility is Kanaya. But if you are comfortable sharing the onsen bath with others, we recommend utilizing their public bath to view their gorgeous Japanese garden!
For those who would love to have an onsen bathtub in their room, Yunode can be a good choice!
There is even an authentic tea room in this ryokan for anyone interested in the Japanese tea ceremony.
Important: Please note currently, they do not cater to a vegetarian diet requirement.
Find out All the Amazing Attractions in Kanazawa
Kanazawa is a city that combines traditional and modern elements in harmony with many attractions that are worthwhile for your time.
To find out how the city will enchant you, please refer to our article on Kanazawa!