A Travel Guide To Ginzan Onsen's Ryokans | CoolJapan

Ginzan Onsen, which roughly translates as ”Silver Mountain Hot Spring” in English, certainly lives up to its name. One of Japan’s most popular onsens, it is a gem situated in the mountains of Yamagata Prefecture. Originally developed around a silver mine, the region is now the nation’s most sought after onsen towns for both locals and tourists.

Nighttime Scenery In Ginzan Onsen

Nighttime at Ginzan Onsen. Photo: ©JNTO

The appeal of Ginzan Onsen is obvious. With its traditional wooden ryokan rising up to four storeys high, it is at once majestic and rustic. The wood sets off the white plaster walls to create a striking view, complete with a charming river running through — like a scene from a bygone era.

A dreamy scene from the heavenly Ginzan Onsen in winter, where puffy clouds of snow descend on the edges of the frozen riverbank.

At the centre of town lies Fujiya Ryokan, recently redesigned by the renowned Kuma Kengo.  The minimalist design of the modern ryokan will delight design enthusiasts with its clean lines and sumptuous lighting. A room will set you back by as much as USD320 a night, but for one-tenth of the price, you can already get a private open-air bath for 45 minutes. A pretty good deal, too!

For those looking to stay in a ryokan with a modern twist, Fujiya Ryokan is the answer.

For the budget-conscious in search for Kuma Kengo vibes, there is also a public bath in the town centre, Shirogane-yu which costs only JPY500/~USD5.

After a relaxing soak in the healing waters, step into the pedestrian-only town centre in your yukata.  Winter in Ginzan Onsen is especially magical. In the cool blue hues of the evenings, Ginzan Onsen glistens in the snow, tenderly lit by the gas lights on the streets and bridges.

A short trip into history begins at the base of a spectacular waterfall in Ginzan Onsen.

If your stroll takes you to the back of the town, there is Shirogane Falls, a breathtaking 22-metre-tall waterfall awaits you. Not far from its base is where you can step into Ginzan Onsen’s history. Visitors can enter a lit-up tunnel leading to the historic silver mine that was built here over 500 years ago and served as the town's lifeblood during the early Edo Period (1603-1868).

A gem for all seasons.

Although it is a long way from the dizzying lights of Tokyo, Ginzan Onsen is well worth the trip, no matter the time of year. From Tokyo, take the JR Yamagata Shinkansen to Oishida Station (which takes about 3 hours and 20 minutes), then catch a bus to Ginzan Onsen (which takes about 35 minutes).

  1. 1.Ginzan Onsen
  2. 2.Fujiya Ryokan
  3. 3.Shirogane-yu
  4. 4.Shirogane Falls
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