Friday, April 24, 2009

Wajima Onsen

On serene, quiet days, Wajima often comes to my mind

Our trip to Japan could not be complete without experiencing the hospitality and hotsprings of a ryokan, so Brendan and I decided to go to one near Wajima, a sea-facing city in the northern part of the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture. Wajima is pretty far from the typical western tourist route. Even though there is a train station in Wajima, the train does not run there anymore, so our Japan rail pass took us as far as Wakuraonsen station, and then we hopped on a local bus to Wajima.

In a way I am happy that the train does not run to Wajima anymore, because the bus ride was absolutely gorgeous! With views of tranquil, rural Japan on one side of the road, and the dark Eastern Sea on the other.

I don't think anything I have seen before prepared us for our stay at the Notonosho ryokan*. We could see the sea through our window while we enjoyed the constant sound of water from our private pine bath.

After the bath, we put on our comfortable yukatas (cotton kimono) and went to have dinner at the restaurant in the ryokan. In retrospect, I remember the yukata was very comfortable for me, since I am 5' 1". However, it was probably not that comfortable for Brendan, who is 6’ feet tall and not really the standard size for a male in Japan. Still, he was a total trooper.

Dinner at our ryokan has been one of the most memorable Japanese culinary experiences I have had. All produce was locally sourced, and presented in the most delicate lacquer ware (Wajima is known throughout Japan for producing beautiful lacquer ware). I will describe some of the dishes we ate as best as my limited Japanese allowed me to understand that night.

* Grilled baby squid with locally sourced seaweed *

* Notogyu (beef from the Noto Peninsula) grilled with shiitake mushrooms*

* Grilled, ponzu-marinated squid*

After dinner, we went to some of the onsen pools in the ryokan. By the time we got back to our room, our comfortable futons had been laid out for us. After such a beautiful, relaxing day, we got to rest, enjoy our beautiful room and be a little silly with each other.

* Note: If you are are planning a trip to Japan and want to stay at a Ryokan or Minshuku, I recommend making reservations through JapaneseGuestHouses, a free reservation website service. Not only do they have information on hundreds of Ryokan all over Japan, but also help you make reservations, as many Ryokans do not have english-speaking staff.


  1. so you were in japan. this ryokan looks fabulous! the room with the private onsen!? can't get any better than that. i hope the japanese treated you well, too.

  2. Hi! Indeed, this ryokan was amazing and the people there were beyond nice and helpful! This place was expensive and we only stayed there one night but it was worth every penny because I will never forget the experience :D