The Essence of Japan: 10 Ravishing Hotels and Ryokan in Kanazawa, Ishikawa
Kanazawa, located in Ishikawa Prefecture in the Hokuriku region of Japan, is a city steeped in ancient culture. It flaunts a wealth of attractions, such as Kenroku-en Garden, the Higashi Chaya geisha district, and the Omicho Market. An hour away from Tokyo by airplane, and just over 2.5 hours on the bullet train, Kanazawa is a convenient city to experience the best of traditional Japan without the crowds of Kyoto. From the multitude of accommodations in Kanazawa, we've selected 10 that best embody the spirit of Japanese hospitality and style!
Mar 17 2023
10 Hotels in Kanazawa, Ishikawa
1. Kanazawa Chaya
Just a 3-minute walk from JR Kanazawa Station, Kanazawa Chaya is the closest traditional “ryokan” style accommodation to the station. As an affiliate of Kagaya, a renowned hotel in Wakura Onsen, guests can expect nothing but the best in service and cuisine.
Stepping into Kanazawa Chaya, guests will be greeted by a lineup of traditional Kanazawa crafts, such as “Wajima-nuri” lacquerware. The guestrooms, designed in pure Japanese style, are spacious and comfortable, and embody the traditions of ancient Kanazawa. For those seeking extra sophistication, the annex’s “Special Rooms” offer a gorgeous blend of Western and Eastern design elements sure to enrapture.
Relieve your fatigue in the garden bath full of greenery, or rejuvenate in the ancient Japanese cypress bath, overflowing with rich aromas from a 2,000-year-old “hinoki” cypress tree.
The highlight is undoubtedly the refined Kaga cuisine, which was passed down from the original Kagaya restaurant and showcases the work of generations of chefs in their pursuit of perfection.
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Sitting on a hilltop in the deeply cultural Higashi Chaya district, Yamanoo is a long-standing inn that has been serving guests since 1890. The founder's love for the arts permeates every nook and cranny, and the cuisine is coveted by gourmands across Japan.
Meticulously crafted, the cooking draws on the season's peak flavors and ingredients, earning it the distinction of being “the best in Hokuriku” by Kitaoji Rosanjin, a famous food critic and potter from the Meiji period (1868-1912) to the early Showa period (1926-1989). The dishes are beautifully arranged, allowing one to savor both taste and artistry.
Yamanoo has only four guestrooms, each in a separate building, ensuring a peaceful, private atmosphere complete with stunning views over Higashi Chaya. The walls are painted in a vibrant vermilion hue, and some are used as tearooms, exuding a stylish Kanazawa vibe. Meals are served in-room, allowing guests to dine while admiring the picturesque garden view.
3. Motoyu Ishiya
Motoyu Ishiya was founded in 1624 and is located in Fukatani Onsen, which is about a 20-30 minute drive from the city center. Despite its proximity to the city, it retains a nostalgic atmosphere and is affectionately known as Kanazawa's “omotezashiki” (front parlor). The inn's tender hospitality is cherished by guests from both Japan and abroad.
Fukatani Onsen is believed to have a 1,200-year history, and is famous for its healing waters said to have cured the wounds of Miyamoto Musashi, a famous swordsman from the early Edo period (1603-1868). The soft, amber-colored hot spring water provides the ultimate relief from daily fatigue.
Guestrooms are each unique and historically significant, such as one converted from a storehouse into a Western-style room, and another relocated from an Edo period villa. Each is adorned by the talents of traditional craftspeople, preserving the appearance of the past. You can also view collections of arts and crafts throughout the facility, before sitting down to relish Ishiya-style “kaiseki” cuisine using the finest ingredients and seasonings from the “unique flavors of the land.”
Another notable feature is the “noh” stage in the garden, built from Japanese cypress in 1917 owing to the deeply rooted theater culture of Kanazawa. Once a year, a noh play is performed here, and if the timing is right, you'll be lucky enough to witness it!
Kinjohro is a ryokan that has been operating for over five generations since its establishment in 1890. It is one of several treasured facilities that remain an integral part of Kanazawa's culture. Its roots can be traced back to a restaurant opened by the first generation owner on the site of Maeda Takanori’s residence, an influential retainer of the Kaga Domain. Kinjohro's hospitality, cuisine, and decor all burst with lively Japanese spirit, earning it a dedicated following of regular guests from across the country.
The interior presents a dignified atmosphere worthy of its historical surroundings. The entrance is adorned by a majestic gold folding screen, and fine pieces from the Edo, Meiji, and Showa periods are scattered throughout. The Japanese garden remains unchanged from the Edo period, providing valuable insight into the tastes of the past.
All six guestrooms are the epitome of luxury, equipped with either Japanese cypress or natural red granite baths. For an authentic Japanese experience, opt for a futon-type room, or stick with a bed-type for a more familiar sleeping arrangement. The pillows are made by Ishitaya, a renowned bedding company from Ishikawa, showcasing the ryokan’s support for local businesses.
Decorated with exquisite tableware and artworks passed down the generations, the traditional dishes exhibit the finest presentation. You’ll be taken on a journey through the flavors and textures of Ishikawa's greatest culinary achievements.
5. Kanazawa Yuwaku Onsen Hyakurakusou
Only a 15-minute drive from the heart of Kanazawa lies Yuwaku Onsen. Once known as “the hidden hot spring of the lords of Kaga,” Yuwaku Onsen has long been a favorite therapeutic hotspot for rulers and a source of inspiration for writers. Within this humble mountain village lies Hyakurakusou, a secluded inn that embodies the essence of this lesser-known paradise.
Hyakurakusou has two buildings, each with a unique yet equally warm ambience. The main building's design is centered around “beauty and romance,” and offers a wealth of services like a beauty salon and more, while the villa flaunts a more luxurious, first-class character.
The main building contains an open-air bath with panoramas of Yuwaku's mountains, along with a serene indoor bath. The villa has private open-air baths in each guestroom, alongside five baths that can be reserved. After bathing, guests can unwind and cool down in the lounge.
Meals are served in private, intimate dining rooms, and include kaiseki cuisine featuring the many seasonal delicacies of Kanazawa, with great attention paid to presentation.
Wakura Onsen’s Kagaya is a renowned ryokan hotel famed for its unparalleled hospitality. Being the epitome of excellence, Kagaya was ranked No.1 for 36 consecutive years until 2016 in the “100 Best Hotels and Inns in Japan Chosen by Professionals,” and was again recrowned No.1 in the 48th edition in 2022. Founded in 1906 as a small 12-room inn, it has transformed into a top-tier hotel frequented by royalty and VIPs, with regulars staying to celebrate all their special occasions over the decades. Kagaya's hospitality begins right from check-in, where guests are greeted by a grand reception of staff all lined up at the entrance.
Guestrooms are divided into four buildings, all in traditional Japanese style. Each room is adorned by seasonal flowers, plants, traditional crafts, and artwork, creating a stimulating yet serene environment. Rooms include the classy Special Rooms, Ocean-View Rooms, and those with private open-air hot springs.
Kagaya's restaurant showcases the season's finest ingredients through cooking techniques perfected over generations. Savor exquisite delicacies like turban shells and abalone in spring, “matsutake” mushrooms in autumn, and crab in winter, served in the comfort of your room or the elegant dining room.
After dinner and a relaxing soak, take a stroll down "Nishiki Oji," an 80-meter-long arcade covering an area around 3,300 m². This entertainment complex hosts a diverse range of activities, including dance and variety shows, to keep you amused over the day and night.
7. Yamashiro Onsen Miyabi no Yado Kaga Hyakumangoku
Miyabi no Yado Kaga Hyakumangoku is one of Japan's largest ryokan inns, covering a vast area of approximately 66,000 m². Guests can relish a sense of spaciousness and escape the daily grind to reconnect with what’s important.
You'll feel grandeur the moment you enter the cavernous lobby, which is adorned by Kaga “yuzen” dyed textiles, Japanese umbrellas, and giant tiles – the first of their kind in Japan.
Guestrooms are divided between the main building and villa. The main building contains a selection of Japanese and Western-style rooms, including some with breathtaking views from the bath. The villa boasts the more luxurious rooms, including the “Special Room” where Emperor Showa once stayed. Each space is open and airy, and the hot spring water comes directly from the hotel's private source, pumped into two open-air baths and a large shared bathhouse. Meals are served in two dining rooms both overlooking the garden that specialize in Kaga kaiseki cuisine, which changes with the seasons.
Another highlight is the “Yamashiro Yumehiroba,” which has an entertainment hall hosting seasonal events, a gaming corner with both new and retro consoles, billiards, table tennis, karaoke, and much more. Kids will never be bored, and adults can work out or rejuvenate at the spacious gym and salon.
Sitting within Yamashiro Onsen, Rurikoh is a hub of top-notch service and amenities catering to contemporary needs while preserving the traditions and culture of hot spring inns.
Its name comes from the source of Yamashiro Onsen’s geothermal water, which is called “Gensen Rurikoh.” The hot spring baths, considered the heart of the inn, include an open-air rock bath with a garden and waterfall, an open-air bath made of cypress wood, and a large granite bath. After bathing, complete your rejuvenation with an in-room professional massage.
The buildings, named “Hoshi” (Star), “Tsuki” (Moon), and “Kaze” (Wind), contain Japanese and Western-style rooms for singles and families, as well as premium rooms with an outdoor hot spring bath. Each space is saturated with a luxurious, authentic Japanese classiness, ensuring a comfortable stay for all.
Revel in sophisticated and innovative Japanese kaiseki dishes and fresh sushi from Kaga's seas and mountains for dinner. Breakfast is a choice of Japanese or Western options, along with nutritious sides made from locally grown vegetables. Adults can make the most of the night at the inn's theater, club, karaoke pub, and karaoke boxes. Plus, traditional taiko drum performances are held every night free of charge.
9. Yamanaka Onsen Kissho Yamanaka
The picturesque scenery of Yamanaka Onsen is known to have impressed Matsuo Basho, a renowned haiku poet from the Edo period who traveled Japan. It is also the birthplace of Kutani ware pottery, the pride of Ishikawa. Local ryokan Kissho Yamanaka overlooks the lush Kakusenkei Gorge, which runs alongside Yamanaka Onsen, and presents a refined elegance exemplifying the traditions of Kaga. Filled with quirks, like welcome pancakes at check in cooked on the spot by the chef, a stay here is sure to be one of fun and relaxation.
There are 10 different guestroom selections, including Japanese and Western-style rooms, along with those boasting open-air baths, inner gardens, and views of the river flowing below. Each utilizes high-quality construction materials, exquisitely designed ceilings and alcoves, and vintage fixtures and fittings.
Guests can tour an array of baths, like the open-air pavilion bath jutting out over the Daishoji River, a semi-open-air jet bath, and a footbath. After soaking, complimentary popsicles, cocktails, and other beverages are available to further relax.
Dinner is a choice between traditional Kaga cuisine or teppanyaki with a brilliant cooking performance from the chef, both using painstakingly sourced local seafood and mountain delicacies. Every night, geisha perform the traditional “Yamanaka-bushi” song and dance - a rare opportunity to witness a slice of authentic culture!
Hanamurasaki is a hot spring resort with a reputation for hospitality and relaxation. Located along the side of the Kakusenkei Gorge running through Yamanaka Onsen, it is packed with perks like late check-outs, ensuring plenty of time to enjoy the experience.
Guestrooms are bestowed with tasteful Japanese design, embellished by inner gardens, verandas, semi-open-air baths with free-flowing hot spring water, mist saunas, low-temperature saunas, and even fireplaces!
You can bathe in the indoor hot spring, filled with the scent of Japanese cypress, or in two open-air baths on the top floor overlooking the Kakusenkei Gorge. Afterwards, chill out in the lounge and enjoy a helping of plum jelly, Hanamurasaki's specialty.
Meals are served in the extraordinary dining room graced by beautiful Hokuriku crafts, such as Echizen “washi” paper and Kaga “mizuhiki” paper cords. You can experience Japan's first ever à la carte kaiseki, which features around 50 seasonal selections, or a set kaiseki course lovingly designed by the chef.
You’ll need reservations while in Japan. See our writers’ top picks!
Kanazawa: The Pinnacle of Japanese Sophistication
Owing to its convenient access from both Tokyo and the Kansai region, Kanazawa is rapidly becoming Japan’s next big sightseeing destination. Take in the ancient streetscape while indulging in blissful luxury at one of these hotels or ryokan, and make your trip one to remember!
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.