Awara is a city in Fukui Prefecture which is famous for its many onsen or hot spring spas. The onsen at Awara date back to 1883 when a farmer who was digging for a well accidentally discovered a source of hot mineral water. The following year a number of onsen resort hotels opened in the area, and the town has never looked back.
In addition to being a pleasant resort town, Awara is also a convenient jumping off point for a visit to the dramatic Tojinbo cliffs on the Hokuriku sea coast. Awara is an hour away from Kanazawa by car and just 35 minutes away by limited express rail services.
Awara Onsen Hotels
Basically Awara is a town in which to relax, soak in a bath, and enjoy the very best local food. Located on a flat plain, the local scenery is not so impressive, and there are no special sightseeing locations. The town’s spa hotels make up for this however, with beautifully landscaped gardens, excellent dining facilities, and various baths boasting different health-boosting properties.
All of the hotels have dug their own wells, so the type of spring water is different from bath to bath. So that you can enjoy a variety of bathing experiences a special ticket is available that you can use to sample the baths at 19 different hotels. Below are some of the most popular of Awara’s hotels. Most of these hotels can arrange a pick-up service at Awara Onsen Station if you order it in advance.
The Beniya Hotel was established in 1884 and is a quaint traditional building with a great atmosphere. Guest rooms have tatami mat floors and futon bedding and the hotel has 4 different hot springs for the baths. Meals are served in an elegant kaiseki multi-course style.
Matsuya Sensen is a large, modern, friendly, and reasonably priced venue with large open air baths, as well as a range of other facilities which include a lounge bar, karaoke room, and souvenir shop.
Haiya dates from 1884 but was completely renovated in 2006. Combining traditional style with modern convenience this hotel has gorgeous interiors and beautifully laid out gardens. The hotel also serves top quality Hokuriku seafood cuisine with the winter crab especially recommended.
Mimatsu is built around a lovely courtyard garden. Guest rooms come in both Japanese and Western styles and look out onto the garden below. This hotel has several large public baths, which include saunas and open air bathing areas. Among other facilities are a club room and a karaoke box.
Tsuruya is a traditional Japanese wooden inn with 23 tatami floored guest rooms. This hotel has a high standard of service and is known for its colorful multi-course meals featuring the very best local ingredients. Tsuruya has three springs and both outdoor and indoor baths. Private onsen baths are also available for some rooms.
Grandia Housen is a large, modern, luxury ryokan with fantastic facilities. The hotel’s interior is traditional but comfortable, and the guest rooms are very spacious. Several large indoor and outdoor baths are available. Multi-course dinners include exquisite dishes of local seafood. There is also a fine traditional interior garden, and a range of club, karaoke, and bar options for after dinner fun. And if you get peckish later on, they also have casual eatery where you can get ramen noodles and sushi.
The Tojinbo Cliffs
The main sightseeing attraction near Awara is the Tojinbo Cliffs. These are a dramatic 1 kilometer stretch of rocky cliffs on the Hokuriku seacoast which tower 25 meters above the foaming waves below. Famous for their rugged beauty these ancient volcanic rock formations have many local legends and ghost stories attached to them. If you want to visit the Tojinbo Cliffs then Awara is a very convenient place to stay.
There are regular buses from Awara Onsen Station to Tojinbo and these are timed to connect with arriving limited express services. The bus takes 45 minutes to get to Tojinbo and costs 750 yen.
How to Get to Awara Onsen
There are three ways to travel between Kanazawa and Awara: by local train, by limited express train, or by car. The local train is the cheapest option, and the limited express is the fastest and most comfortable choice, but if you want to explore Fukui Prefecture beyond Awara, a car is probably your best option.
Awara Onsen Station is connected to Kanazawa Station by the Hokuriku Main Line. Traveling by local train you can get there in 1 hour and 12 minutes for a fare of 970 yen. Traveling by a limited express service such as the Thunderbird or Shirasagi you can get there in 35 minutes for a fare of 2,150 yen.
Awara Onsen can be reached by car via the Hokuriku Expressway. The journey should take around 1 hour and cost 1,740 yen in toll fees. Of course this does not include the cost of renting a car. Although car rental is not the cheapest option for Awara, a car will be more practical if you want to explore other parts of Fukui Prefecture. For more information on local driving check our article on Car Rental in Kanazawa. For more information on Fukui’s main attractions see our article Day trip from Kanazawa to Fukui.
Article and original photos by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.