Wakura Onsen is a 1,200 year-old luxury hot spring resort on the Noto Peninsula’s Nanao Bay. According to legend, the hot springs were first discovered by a fisherman who saw a heron bathing its injured wing in the warm spring waters. These soothing mineral waters are now famous for their many health benefits and can be enjoyed at any of the many hotel spas that overlook the sea. Wakura Onsen is really easy to get to by car or train and there is also a special excursion train which can be fun too.
The Main Attractions at Wakura Onsen
Wakura Onsen Soyu is the local public bath. Dating back to 1641 but fully renovated in 2011, this is a bright and well-run facility with a variety of outdoor and indoor baths. Fees are 440 yen for adults, 130 yen for elementary school kids, and 50 yen for pre-schoolers.
Yuttari Park has a free outdoor public footbath in which you can soak your feet while enjoying the view of the bay.
Seirinji Temple is a Zen temple with many elegant buildings located in a bamboo grove. You have to climb a long flight of steps to reach the temple, but the view from the top is quite beautiful.
Fisherman’s Wharf is closer to Nanao Station (one stop south of Wakura Onsen Station) but is only 15 minutes away by taxi. It is worth a visit for its lively market selling local crafts and an international jazz festival is held here every year on the last Saturday of July.
Notojima Glass Art Museum is Japan’s only museum devoted to glass art and holds many beautiful pieces from around the world. Located across the bay on Notojima Island it is linked to Wakura Onsen by a bridge. There is a bus that takes 30 minutes to make the journey and it costs 550 yen.
Wakura Onsen Hotels and Ryokans
The best way to enjoy Wakura Onsen is to stay at one of the many luxury ryokan inns, bathe in their hot spring baths and enjoy the very best seafood dining. Most of these hotels offer a pick-up service from the Wakura Onsen Station if you arrange it with them in advance.
Kagaya is the most famous of Wakura Onsen’s hotels and has been ranked as Japan’s number 1 ryokan for the last 36 years. Despite this luxury hotel’s very modern exterior, the rooms are all furnished in a traditional Japanese style. Private balcony hinoki bathtubs are also available.
Yukemurinoyado Biwanso is a mid-range hotel with comfortable ocean-view rooms and a variety of bathing facilities. The staff are warm and friendly and the dining facilities are excellent.
Matsuno Midori is a stylish luxury hotel that opened here in 2015. The elegant guest rooms are Western style with comfy beds and sofas. This hotel has its own traditional tea room and a gallery of lacquerware works by the famous craftsman Isaburo Kado.
Togetsuan is a beautiful mid-range hotel which dates from 1915 and was built in the traditional ryokan style. Rooms are traditional Japanese style. The seafood dinner is plentiful. And there is a variety of outdoor and indoor bathing facilities.
Aenokaze is a large, modern, waterfront luxury hotel with an outdoor swimming pool as well as a variety of bathing facilities. Guest rooms are Japanese style with tatami matting and futons. The staff are professional and courteous, and you can enjoy a traditional Japanese drumming show during dinner.
How to Get There
Wakura Onsen can be reached by train or by car. Train services to Wakura Onsen are speedy and enjoyable, but a car will give you greater mobility if you would like to explore other areas on the Noto Peninsula.
Wakura Onsen is connected to Kanazawa Station by local train lines: the IR Ishikawa Railway Line and the JR Nanao Line. There are regular through train limited express services like the Noto Kagaribi that will take you directly there in around 58 minutes for a fare of 2,230 yen. Traveling by local train you can get there with one transfer at Nanao Station in 1 hour and 45 minutes for a fare of 1,380 yen.
In addition there is a very special sightseeing train called the Hanayome Noren that runs between Kanazawa and Wakura Onsen. This train is nicknamed a “ryokan on wheels” because of its deluxe interior and high degree of service. In fact it has a special menu of meals, snacks, sweets, and sake, that was chosen by the chef of the ryokan Kagaya, and the cabin attendants received special training in hospitality at the Kagaya too. The Hanyome Noren will get you to Wakura Onsen in around 1 hour and 30 minutes for a fare of 2,750 yen. For more details on this train and pictures of its highly decorated interior and exterior see our article: The Hanayome Noren.
Wakura Onsen can be reached by car via the coastal Noto Satoyama Kaido freeway. There are no toll fees on this route and the journey should take around 1 hour and 9 minutes. Taking a car to Wakura Onsen is a good option if you would like to explore more of the Noto Peninsula. Further north, Wajima City in particular can no longer be reached by railway, so you can only get to Wajima by car or by bus. For more information on local driving check our article on Car Rental in Kanazawa.
Article and original photos by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.