Waon no Yu Onsen (和音の湯) is a traditional Japanese hot spring bathhouse in Higashi-Kanazawa that has turned the menial daily activity of bathing int a special occasion! It is not about cleaning yourself; it is about immersing yourself in the experience. I had the opportunity to try some of the wonderful facilities at Waon no Yu. I felt the warm hospitality of the staff seemed to imbue the onsen with a merry character of its own. A note of caution for those travelling with little ones, this onsen will have them kicking and screaming not to get out of the bath.
Much to my delight, I opened my little locker box to find a complimentary melon drink! I was already looking forward to a few sips of cool soda after my bath. Like most hotsprings, Waon no Yu has baths with different mineral properties and health benefits. In particular, the carbonated bath is good for those with fatigue problems, high blood-pressure, lower back pains or also for if you simply want to give your skin a little bit of beauty treatment. It was a warm welcome for my stiff shoulders after I had been dragging my luggage around town.
Remember to take frequent sips from the water cooler in between bath-dipping and only stay in for 3 minutes at a time. This helps avoid light-headedness.
While Waon no Yu’s baths are for the ultimate goal of cleanliness and relaxation, I was so eager and excited to try all of the outdoor baths, known as rotemburo (露天風呂), that I could hardly sit still for five minutes at a go. You can also try slapping a handful of clay mud before hopping into the steamy sauna for a self-made facemask (for free)!
The main reception area has a dedicated space for a manga corner, a vending machine corner and a smoking corner. There is a also canteen serves lunch sets and has options available for if you’d like to splurge and book a banquet course in a private room. If you are not yet convinced that this onsen has got it all, there are also an on-site massage services and a hair salon should you care for a cut, wash or colour to look fresh on your travels.
The hot spring bathhouse is run by a friendly lady and all the staff welcome you with a musical, lilting accent. English is limited, however, employees are warm and happy to help. English signage on how to appropriately use the onsen is inside the entrance to the actual baths.
There is a vending machine to buy entry tickets to the bathhouse, but credit card are accepted at the staff counter. Adult entry costs ¥500 between 5-9am and ¥700 from 9-12am, while children up to primary school age enter for ¥300 (anytime) and tots under 3 years old get in for free.
It’s a six-minute walk from Higashi-Kanazawa station on the JR Ishikawa line. This line runs relatively infrequently, so I recommend planning your trip beforehand according to train schedule so as not to get caught out. If you are in the area, this local onsen is certainly off the beaten track but certainly worth your time!