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Kaga Onsen on a Day Trip from Kanazawa – Hot Springs of Yamanaka, Yamashiro, and Katayamazu in Ishikawa Prefecture

KANAZAWA-Tourist Attraction
Natadera Temple (C) K's House

Kaga Onsen on a Day Trip from Kanazawa – Hot Springs of Yamanaka, Yamashiro, and Katayamazu in Ishikawa Prefecture


Autumn and winter are the best seasons to warm up in hot springs in Japan. The word onsen means hot spring in Japanese, which might be one of the important words when you travel in Japan.

Ishikawa Prefecture has two major hot springs areas called Kaga Onsen and Wakura Onsen. It is about 1 – 1.5 hour from Kanazawa to both areas. If you will stay overnight at onsen, I would recommend staying at a nice ryokan in any of these hot spring areas, but if you will go on a day trip, I recommend Yamanaka Onsen in Kaga Onsen area.

Kaga Onsen is a general term for three hot spring towns in Kaga region of Ishikawa prefecture: Yamanaka Onsen, Yamashiro Onsen, and Katayamazu Onsen. Every onsen in this region has a communal bathhouse at the center of the town, and fortunately they are also open for guests with tattoo.

Yamanaka Onsen

Yamanaka means “inside the mountain” in Japanese. As the name suggests, Yamanaka Onsen is located in the mountains. The reason why I recommend Yamanaka Onsen for day trip is not only because of the nice onsen town itself, but also the pleasant walking path along Kakusenkei Gorge nearby.

When I was looking for a bird-view photograph that could show this geographic charm at a glance, I found a wonderful video. Please take a look at the first 20 seconds of the autumn part of the Yamanaka Onsen official movie.

You will see the beautiful autumn leaves along the gorge, and the dark red Ayatori-hashi Bridge that meanders over the river, and the hot spring town that spread out near the gorge.

Onsen Town

Soyu, located in the center of each hot spring town in the Kaga region, is a communal bath that can be used by everyone from locals to visitors at low price.

The soyu of Yamanaka Onsen called Kikunoyu is a heavy building, and the inside is spacious and clean. The smooth, transparent water warms your body from the core.

Yamanaka Onsen Soyu
Fee: adult 460yen
Open hours: 6:45-22:30
No holiday except temporary closure
Tattoo friendly

(C) Ishikawa Prefectural Tourism League

If you walk along the main street, you will find many nice shops such as galleries, Yamanaka lacquer ware shops, café and sweets shops. It doesn’t feel too much touristic, nor quiet, but relaxing and attractive.

Geographically, the river of Kakusenkei Gorge runs parallel to the main street, so I recommend to walk along the main street on the way back or forth, then along the riverside path on the opposite way.

(C) Ishikawa Prefectural Tourism League

Kakusenkei Gorge

There is a nice walking path along the gorge where you can enjoy the nature of the mountains: fresh green in the early spring, cool riverbed in the summer, beautiful autumn leaves in the fall, and snowy scenery in the winter. From the upstream, there are different style of bridges such as Korogi-bashi Bridge, Ayatori-hashi Bridge and Kurotani-bashi Bridge.

Riverbed in the summer (C) Ishikawa Prefectural Tourism League


Yamashiro Onsen

There are two communal baths in Yamashiro Onsen: Soyu, a modern stlye bathhouse and Ko-soyu, a restored old style bathhouse.

At Ko-soyu of the unique dim space, the walls are covered with wooden boards, and the outside light enters through the stained glass. In addition to the exterior and interior, you are supposed to take bath in the old way here; you will simply soak in the bath tab without washing your body and hair by soap in the bathhouse, but please rinse yourself before soaking.

The second floor of the Ko-soyu is a tatami-matted resting space. If you look at the willow leaves that slowly sway outside the window after the bath, you would feel like you had traveled back to the old time.

Ko-soyu (C) K’s House

Inside Ko-soyu (C) Ishikawa Prefectural Tourism League

Yamashiro Onsen Soyu / Kosoyu
Open hours: 6:00-22:00
Holidays: 4th Wednesday from 6:00 to 12:00 (open from noon)
Fee: Soyu adult 460 yen, Ko-soyu adult 500 yen
Tattoo friendly


Katayamazu Onsen

Located on the shore of Lake Shibayamagata, the view is appealing point of this onsen. On a sunny day, you will see the panoramic view of Hakusan Mountains and the lake.

(C) Ishikawa Prefectural Tourism League

The soyu of Katayamazu Onsen is a stylish and modern building, and the men’s and women’s baths switch daily. From one of the baths named Katano-yu, you can enjoy the great lake view while taking bath. Personally, this hot spring is too hot to soak in for a long time, but the local elderly appear to feel good in the right temperature.

On the second floor of the bathhouse are a glass-enclosed cafe and terrace, where you can enjoy drinks and light meals made with local ingredients while enjoying a wonderful view.

(C) Ishikawa Prefectural Tourism League

Katayamazu Onsen Soyu
Open hours: bath 6:00-22:00, cafe 10:00-17:00
No holidays except temporarily closure * The cafe closed on Thursday
Fee: adults 460 yen

TOP - Katayamazu Hot Spring Tourist Association
This lakeside hot spring town has the most beautiful view of Mt. Haku, and is surrounded by amazing water scenery. Gazin...

Natadera Temple

If you will go to the above mentioned hot springs from Kanazawa by car, you should definitely stop by Natadera Temple. The spacious precincts and temple buildings take advantage of the terrain in the mountains. You can enjoy the beauty of nature such as fresh greenery and autumn leaves.

It takes an hour to walk around slowly seeing a lot of photogenic scenery, which was also used for film locations. It is one of the most famous spots for autumn leaves in Ishikawa prefecture, and its best season is November.

(C) Ishikawa Prefectural Tourism League

Visiting hours: 9: 15-16: 00 *open all year round
Admission fee: adults 600 yen, special admission + 200 yen (Important Cultural Property and Garden)




45 minutes from Kanazawa to Katayamazu Onsen by toll road, 1 hour to Yamashiro Onsen and Yamanaka Onsen

Public Transport

Direct Bus

Convenient direct bus is available from Kanazawa to Katayamazu, Yamashiro and Yamanaka Onsen, The same bus goes back and forth, so you will take bus for either the way back or forth, and for the opposite you need to take JR train and local bus.

Direct bus Kaga Yunosato Limited Express
Fee: Adult one-way 1370 yen (from Kanazawa to Yamanaka Onsen, the farthest onsen)
Time required: approximately 1.5 hour
*The nearest bus stop from K’s House Kanazawa is in front of 21st Century Museum. There are several bus stops around the museum, please check the right location.



JR Train and local bus

From JR Kanazawa Station to Kaga Onsen Station, take a limited express train for 25 minutes at 1530 yen, or take a regular train for 1 hour at 770 yen. The both are covered by JR Pass.

From Kaga Onsen Station to Yamanaka Onsen, take a local bus for 30 minutes at 430 yen, or take a taxi for 20 minutes at 3500 yen.

Local bus timetable and fare


If you will stay in Kanazawa, we look forward to your stay at K’s House Kanazawa!