view of a few of the ginzan onsen ryokan in Japan's favorite winter hot spring village.
Kelly Marken

The Ginzan Onsen Ryokan

In Japan's Yamagata Prefecture, these snow-kissed retreats offer a rejuvenating escape.

Ginzan Onsen, a secluded hot spring village tucked away in Yamagata Prefecture, Japan, embodies the quiet majesty and timeless grace of Japanese tradition. Its history, stretching back to the Edo period, is tied to silver mining, but today, the town’s ryokans (traditional Japanese inns) and hot springs draw visitors, especially in winter.

The Ginzan Onsen ryokan offer more than lodging; they provide a holistic experience of Japanese tradition and natural wellness. These inns often feature tatami-matted rooms, communal baths, and other public areas where visitors can relax in yukata robes. The onsen experience in Ginzan varies from ryokan to ryokan, with some offering private open-air baths (rotenburo) and others providing indoor communal baths (ofuro), each with its own unique mineral composition known for healing properties.

The Magic of Ginzan Onsen in Winter

In winter, Ginzan Onsen transforms into a magical landscape. The snow-covered streets, lined with gas lamps and traditional wooden ryokans, create fairytale-like winter views. Visitors immerse themselves in the warm, mineral-rich waters of the onsens while snow gently falls around them. The contrast of the hot springs with the cold air is invigorating and a quintessentially Japanese experience.

How To Get To Ginzan Onsen

Accessing Ginzan Onsen from Tokyo involves a train journey of about three hours and 20 minutes by the JR Yamagata Shinkansen to Oishida Station. From there, a bus ride to Ginzan Onsen takes approximately 35 minutes. Buses depart from Oishida Station to Ginzan Onsen approximately every 60-90 minutes. 

Alternatively, you can also travel via Yamagata Airport. The flight from Tokyo to Yamagata Airport takes about one hour, followed by a bus ride of approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes to Ginzan Onsen.

Where To Stay in Ginzan Onsen

  • Notoya Ryokan: A registered Tangible Cultural Property of Japan with a traditional design from the Taisho era. This popular hot spring resort offers a unique outdoor onsen experience and is known for its traditional Japanese cuisine, including local specialties. The ryokan also offers private rotenburo (outdoor onsen) in both women’s and men’s bathing rooms​​​​​​​​.
  • Ginzanso: A traditional luxury ryokan known for its classic Japanese ryokan experience with luxurious amenities, including open-air baths with views of the surrounding nature.
  • Fujiya Inn: A modern boutique ryokan combining traditional Japanese aesthetics with modern design, providing a unique and stylish accommodation experience.
  • Ryokan Kosekiya: Known for offering an authentic, down-to-earth ryokan experience with warm hospitality and excellent hot spring baths.
  • Ryokan Kosekiya Annex: A boutique ryokan offering a smaller, more intimate experience with personalized service and serene settings.
  • Nagasawa Heihachi: Combines the warmth of wood with elegant Japanese design. It offers a tranquil experience with rejuvenating hot springs and a focus on local, seasonal cuisine.
  • Takimikan: Renowned for its scenic river views and traditional ambiance and is especially noted for its therapeutic hot springs.
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