The Tile-Lined Elegance of Ishikawa’s Yamashiro Hot Springs

Japan in Video

There are three popular hot spring areas in the Kaga region of Ishikawa Prefecture: Yamashiro, Yamanaka, and Katayamazu. Yamashiro Hot Springs, the largest of these, boasts a history going back some 1,300 years. By the mid–Edo period (1603–1868), Yamashiro had seen the development of a collective hot spring resort with sōyu communal baths and 18 ryokan, traditional Japanese inns, in the area.

The streets around Yamashiro Hot Springs. At center is Kosōyu.

The people of Hokuriku refer to the neighborhood around the sōyu as Yunogawa. Kosōyu, a faithful reconstruction of structures from the Meiji era (1868–1912), was built here in 2010. This new, central structure for the Yamashiro Hot Springs imparts a sense of the history and culture of taking the waters in Japan. Even the fired Kutaniyaki tiles that were used in the original walls and floors are reproduced here.

Highly refined Kutaniyaki tiles are used abundantly.

A footbath is available free of charge near Kosōyu. The water of the hot spring itself can be drunk here as well. A statue of a three-footed mythical bird sits atop a rock and rests its damaged feathers. The figure is a yatagarasu, a sacred crow associated with myths of the origins of Yamashiro Hot Springs.

Ladles are provided for drinking the mineral-rich waters of the spring.

Souvenir shops line the area’s streets, offering visitors Kutaniyaki and other handcrafts made by local artisans.

Souvenir shops along the streets of the hot spring district.

Access: 27 minutes on the JR Hokuriku Main Line from Kanazawa Station to Kaga-Onsen Station, then approx. 10 minutes by taxi.

(Originally written in Japanese. Created in cooperation with Kanazawa Cable Television. Banner photo: Bathing rooms at Kosōyu give visitors a sense of the history and culture of Japanese hot springs.)

Ishikawa tourism Hokuriku Hot Springs