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Ginzan Onsen

Mountain onsen village for luxury lovers or budget backpackers.

Yamagata Prefecture is filled with some of the best onsen, or hot spring baths in Japan and is conveniently connected to Tokyo via bullet train. Ginzan Onsen is one of the most popular onsen towns not only in Yamagata but also in the country, known for its epically nostalgic feel during the winter months and its beautiful hiking trails and waterfall during more temperate weather.

All the way up in Obanazawa City, it is located in the rustic Tohoku region to the north of Tokyo. Getting to these local spots takes a bit of extra effort, but the journey itself is truly a trip in its own right.

Ginzan Onsen

Photo by: chikfeir Ginzan Onsen in the dead of winter.

Ginzan Onsen  town

Ginzan is a peaceful village made for rest and relaxation. The mountain village’s highlight is definitely the scenery, including the Ginzan River flowing through the town. This hot spring haven is also one of GaijinPot Travel’s Top 15 Hot Spring Destinations for Winter, but it’s quaint in any season.

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It was first founded in the 1400s when a silver mine was started in the mountains near Obanazawa. The mines eventually stopped, and hotels began to sprout up around the town.

Popular destinations include the three public onsen, Shiroganeyu, Kajikayu, and Omokageyu, which can be entered for a small fee to enjoy the traditional hot-water baths. For those who might be embarrassed by being naked in front of others, there are also foot baths (called ashi-yu) around town which can be used for free. Travelers have their pick of restaurants specializing in unique Japanese cuisine such as soba ice cream. Visitors can go for a day or a getaway and get a room at a traditional ryokan hotel (many with their own private onsen baths).

Take a hike

The area around Ginzan has lush scenery, including Shirogane Falls, a 22-meter-high waterfall. While hiking you can also see mountain shrines and koi fish in the river. Near Omokage Park is a cave that was part of the silver mine. You can go inside and relive the history of the area. Please note that the path not walkable in winter or early spring due to snow.

There are a few major festivals/events in Ginzan, which you can check the event calendar (Japanese) for the most up-to-date info.

Are you an onsen lover? Discover more hot spring getaways.


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How To Get There


Japan, 〒999-4333 Yamagata-ken, Obanazawa-shi, Ginzanshinhata, 県道188号線

By train

From the Tohoku Shinkansen (bullet train), get off at Sendai station and take a bus toward Shinjo city (north of Ginzan Onsen). Transfer at Obanazawa and take the bus to Ginzan Onsen.

Alternatively, take the Tokohu Shinkansen from Tokyo to Oishida station. From there, buses leave for Ginzan Onsen only every 60-90 minutes, which is typical for train times in the countryside. Take a bus for about 35 minutes. The train portion is covered by the Japan Rail Pass but the bus is not.

By car

From the Tohoku Expressway, you can take Route 47 towards Naruko, then take Route 347 towards Ginzan, or take Route 13 from Yamagata or Sendai Miyagi IC towards Obanazawa to Route 347.

You can also conveniently explore the area around Ginzan Onsen by renting a car. You can find rental car places near Yamagata station, and a few other stops along the Yamagata Bullet Train line. You can also rent a car at Yamagata Airport. There is a parking lot about five-to-10-minutes’ walk from the town center; in that case, many of the inn staff will pick up guests from the parking lot. Please arrange ahead of time.

By plane

Take a domestic flight to Yamagata Airport. There are a few buses per day between the airport and Ginzan Onsen. It takes around 70 to 90 minutes and does not require reservations.

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