And after a long day in pursuit of enlightenment, what better way to unwind than a long soak in the onsen?
Some people come to Japan for the history. Others come for the luxurious hot springs. Kaga Onsen offers the best of both worlds: a place where ancient history and modern luxury collide.
Kaga Onsen is a popular hot spring destination at the foot of Mount Hakusan, near Kanazawa in Ishikawa Prefecture, that actually consists of four separate onsen resort towns next to each other.
The four towns — Yamashiro, Awazu, Yamanaka and Katayamazu — each have their own unique character and style, continuing into the modern era a legacy that began some 1,300 years ago, when monks from the nearby temples first discovered the hot springs.
All four share the common trait of being accessible both to holiday makers planning an extended stay and short-term travelers just passing through on a one-day trip. Alongside the usual ryokan (traditional inns) with their private onsen baths, excellent food and hospitality; you will also find a series of low-cost public bathhouses, known locally as soyu. These public baths predate most of the inns and hotels in the area and are loved and appreciated by both visitors and locals alike.
In between your bathing sessions, you may also want to consider a short trip along the road to Hakusan City and perhaps even climb up Mt. Haku itself. Along with Mt. Tateyama and the legendary Mt. Fuji, Hakusan is one of Japan’s “three holy mountains,” a famous attraction for both pilgrims and history buffs alike.
As nourishment for the soul, you may want to offer a prayer to the holy mountain while you’re in the area. To do so, you’ll need to visit Natadera Temple, a stunning sanctuary near Awazu. One particular highlight is the “medication caves” cut directly out of the natural cliff face. This is the perfect area to appreciate Japanese culture and also seek spiritual solace.
And, after a long day in pursuit of enlightenment, what better way to unwind than a long soak in the onsen?
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