Old but new. Tradition meets modern – 山代温泉 (YAMASHIRO ONSEN)

加賀 (KAGA) region in ISHIKAWA Prefecture is well known as a historical place where 前田利家 (TOSHIIE MAEDA), a famous SAMURAI governed. Even at the present day, a lot of historical places still remain and they co-exist with the modern facilities and townscape.




山代温泉 (YAMASHIRO ONSEN) in this KAGA region opened in 725, which was 1300 years ago from now. ONSEN used to be loved by a lot of SAMURAI during EDO Period and they used to bathe in it to cure diseases and injuries just like seeing doctor at the present day. This YAMASHIRO ONSEN was the place where 明智光秀 (MITSUHIDE AKECHI), a famous SAMURAI, stayed 10 days for 湯治 (TOUJI / Hot spring cure) to cure his injury. In modern times, a lot of people of culture such as 北大路魯山人 (ROSANJIN KITAOJI, a well known Japanese talented artist in various fields like pottery), 与謝野鉄幹・与謝野晶子夫妻 (spouse of TEKKAN YOSANO & AKIKO YOSANO, well known poets), and 泉鏡花 (KYOKA IZUMI, a well known novelist) also stayed here long. Since this ONSEN place has long history, it has been loved by so many people for so many years. It is quite impressive that we can bathe in this historical ONSEN even at the present day.


This place is also famous for 九谷焼 (KUTANI YAKI / KUTANI Pottery), one of the most famous pottery in Japan. The best feature of KUTANI YAKI is its vivid colors. First, basic drawing is done with blue-black ink called 呉須 (GOSU), and then the colors of red, yellow, green, purple, and navy blue (called 五彩 five-colors) are added with its unique painting method.


吉田屋山王閣 (YOSHIDAYA SANNOKAKU), a historical ONSEN hotel which has the biggest yield of natural ONSEN at this YAMASHIRO ONSEN.


Source: Official website of YOSHIDAYA SANNOKAKU


吉田屋山王閣 (YOSHIDAYA SANNOKAKU) is a historical ONSEN hotel which has a long history since its opening in 1868, and it has the biggest yield of natural ONSEN at this YAMASHIRO ONSEN.


Official website of 吉田屋山王閣 (YOSHIDAYA SANNOKAKU): https://www.sannoukaku.com/lg_en/


Among their 45 rooms with 10 types, I selected a room at 松風庵 (SHOFU AN) where has a private outdoor bath at the room. All the rooms at this SHOFU AN equips either of bed room, dining room, or tea room in addition to the main room, and its design and functionality are superb. Among 5 rooms at this SHOFU AN, I stayed at “松声の間 (SHOSEI NO MA)” which equips a special dining room.




All rooms of SHOFU AN are well renovated and the interior is very beautiful and sophisticated. 松声の間 (SHOSEI NO MA), the room where I stayed, has a unique dining room with mix of modern and tradition. The wall is painted in red, called 朱塗り (vermilion lacquered) which historically used to be the great hospitality for the guests in this 加賀 (KAGA) region, and the modern and traditional furnitures are designed by 岩倉榮利 (EIRI IWAKURA), a famous furniture designer. The atmosphere of this room was entirely mix of sophisticated modern taste and the tradition of KAGA region. It has a Japanese TATAMI room, a dining room, a private outdoor bath, and an indoor veranda where you can view nice scenery. It was really a luxury room, and I decided to stay here for 2 nights.


The vermilion lacquered dining room had nice concealed lightings on the floor which gave me warmth and gentle brightness, and its TATAMI is a 琉球畳 (RYUKYU TATAMI) which gave a modern taste. A dining table and chairs are also nice and you can enjoy your private dinner time peacefully.


Source: Official website of YOSHIDAYA SANNOKAKU


And the biggest reasons why I chose this room were its private outdoor bath and chairs at the indoor veranda.


I wanted to feel the breath of nature flowing into the room by opening the window. I wanted to spend slow and peaceful time with breathing its fresh breath of nature.


In addition, I wanted to have myself at the round bathtub which faces right in front of the nature, and feel like bathing in the forest with viewing the trees around me.


Whenever I bathe in natural ONSEN, I feel like coming back to the nature. Thus I prefer the ONSEN which is close to nature, because ONSEN is also the gift from the nature.


Source: Official website of YOSHIDAYA SANNOKAKU


The spring quality here is Sodium / Calcium / Sulfate / Chloride spring. It has moisturizing and warmth retaining effects, and it resets your skin and makes your skin very smooth. As mentioned above, this hotel has the biggest yield of natural ONSEN in this YAMASHIRO ONSEN and its amount of yield is 100,000 liters. This is the amount which 100,000 people can enjoy fresh ONSEN per day. What an amazing amount it has! This is why the water coming our from every faucet in this hotel is natural ONSEN.


Amazing relaxation just to be inside the room


Since this hotel is huge, it has a lot of facilities such as bar, karaoke, table tennis, massage, cafe, and souvenir shop etc. However, I just stayed in my room because just staying in the room was so relaxing and I wanted to release all the fatigue and stress. I just indulged myself.


Once I checked in, I bathed in the private outdoor bath in my room. Since it was early afternoon, the scenery which can be seen from this outdoor bath was so relaxing.



After that, I enjoyed tea and alcohol in the room. And I had a massage in the room. Then, I spent slow time with viewing sunset from the room.


I enjoyed dinner at that vermilion lacquered dining room. The dinner was served with the plates of 九谷焼 (KUTANI YAKI / KUTANI Pottery) which was originated from this district, and also 信楽焼 (SHIGARAKI YAKI / SHIGARAKI Pottery) which was originated from SHIGA Prefecture, next to this ISHIKAWA Prefecture, and those beautiful plates made the colorful dinner further more colorful. What is special about 加賀 (KAGA) and 金沢 (KANAZAWA) in winter is nothing but crabs. I enjoyed full of amazingly tasty red crabs in this red dining room. Drinking red wine, my cheek also got red.



What was also memorable was its 布団 (FUTON / Bedding). Double layer of soft bedding made me sleep really well. It has been a long time since I slept this well last time. It made me welcome wonderful and peaceful morning.


Breakfast is served at the dining hall named “和味 (NAGOMI)”. Although it is buffet style, you can enjoy it in the private room.


2nd day gives you more piece.


I prefer to stay at ONSEN hotel for 2 nights. If it’s only 1 night stay, check-in time is usually 3 pm, followed by ONSEN and dinner, then 1 day finishes pretty soon. And also the check-out time at many of ONSEN hotels in Japan is 10 am so that you don’t have enough time to enjoy the stay slowly. I’m the greedy person who wants to do various things and staying just one night is a little rush for me. On the other hand, when you stay for 2 nights, the free time becomes more than double. Even after having breakfast, you don’t need to rush to pack your luggage but you can sleep again or bathe in ONSEN again without caring the check-out time.


In many of ONSEN hotels in Japan, hotel staff tends to clear the bedding while you have breakfast. This is because there is a traditional custom in Japan that the same room is used for both living room and bedroom. Therefore, for hotel staff, it’s a hospitality to clear the bedding during breakfast so that you can relax at the living room after coming back from breakfast. However, sometimes I want to take a nap after breakfast to ease my fatigue. That kind of small desire is also feasible if you stay for 2 nights.


Like this, I stayed slow time in the morning, bathing in that private outdoor ONSEN with morning sunlight again and again. Now my fatigue has gone to somewhere. It’s time to go outside!


Sweets at KOMINKA cafe.


Since I had a big breakfast, I was not hungry for lunch. After driving around YAMASHIRO ONSEN, I reached 山中温泉 (YAMANAKA ONSEN) which is located next to YAMASHIRO ONSEN. Here, I found a really nice cafe named “東山ボヌール (HIGASHIYAMA BONHEUR)” which located in the forest near the 鶴仙渓 (KAKUSENKEI), a famous beautiful valley at YAMANAKA ONSEN. “ボヌール (BONHEUR)” in French means “Happy time”. Its 古民家 (KOMINKA) styled old traditional Japanese house really fits the landscape. Its popular menu is beef stew, fresh squeezed juice, and happy beer. It also serves really nice sweets as well.





Although the outside is snowy and very cold, once you go inside, it’s a very warm, calm, and gentle cafe. Its interior is a mix of sophisticated modern taste and traditional KOMINKA Japanese house. The scenery seen from inside was just like a painting. Old but new. I love this kind of world. I enjoyed hot coffee and gateau chocolat very slowly. Here was really a warm oasis in the snowy forest. I fully enjoyed good time with forest in this warm cafe. It was really BONHEUR, a happy time!!



Official website of HIGASHIYAMA BONHEUR: https://higashiyama-bonheur.jimdo.com/


Public bathes located at the center of YAMASHIRO ONSEN.


There are 2 famous public bathes at the center of YAMASHIRO ONSEN; “総湯 (SOUYU)” and “古総湯 (KOSOUYU)”. SOUYU is a new and huge public bath which provides 100% natural ONSEN directly flowing from the spring source, without any added water and with heat exchange system. On the other hand, “古総湯 (KOSOUYU)” is where the heritage SOUYU at MEIJI Period was restored. Not just its exterior and interior, the way to bathe in is also kept as it used to be. You can enjoy both modern and traditional ONSENs here. The buildings themselves are also worth seeing.






Through this trip, I really realized that 加賀 (KAGA) is the place where tradition meets modern. Old and new. Old but new.


Official website of YAMASHIRO ONSEN: http://www.yamashiro-spa.or.jp/foreign/en

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