When many of us think of Japan, we often imagine an exotic land filled with wonders of culture and nature. We imagine ourselves exploring its beautiful scenery and getting in touch with its proud and interesting history. We envision ourselves walking in the footsteps of a great samurai lord or a wise monk. Whether through enjoying traditional meals or relaxing in tranquility baths, we try to get a feel of what life in those times would have been like. If some of you count themselves among these time voyagers, let me introduce you to a place that will provide you these unique experiences which you will surely remember for the rest of your life, and it is Araya Totoan.
Araya Totoan is a traditional Japanese ryokan whose history extends back to 1639. The wondrous tale of this ryokan begins with an order by the ruler of the powerful Maeda Family to safeguard the family-owned Yamashiro hot spring. Since then, 18 generations of proud owners have run this unique ryokan. At that time, many famous guests have stayed at this prestigious ryokan including the members of the Imperial family and the famous artist Kitaoji Rosanjin, who spend a year here. The town in which the Araya Totoan is located, Yamashiro Onsen, has an even more impressive history. It spans over 1,300 years and is considered one of the best hot springs in the Hokuriku region.
The hot spring water of Yamashiro is a rare and precious national resource because it springs out from a source that lies only a few dozen meters below the ground. Since Araya Totoan is one of the oldest continuous running ryokans in the whole area, it has a special privilege of drawing the largest amount of hot spring water of all the hotels in Yamashiro. The spring water here is of superior quality and has won international acclaim. There are 3 distinct baths located in this ryokan: Ruriko, Gensen-kaku, and the special bathroom “Karasu-yu”.
The name of the Ruriko bath comes from the principal Buddhist image of Yakuoin Onsenji Temple, “Yakushi Ruriko Nyorai” (Medicine Buddha of Lapis Lazuli Light), which is also the guardian deity of Yamashiro Onsen (hot spring). The bath was constructed during the Showa period in the middle of the 20th century. The Japanese hinoki bathtub and the wall panels of hiba produce a fragrant wood scent that complements the aroma of the hot spring water and improves the whole experience. The hot spring water here is famous for its many many therapeutic benefits. Such as against low back pain, neuralgia, female illnesses, skincare, etc. If you drink the spring water it can help you with arteriosclerosis, diabetes, hypertension, chronic constipation, etc. Many people, including myself, have had huge improvements in their health thanks to the hot spring water.
I recommend this to everyone, not just people with illnesses. Because it is a perfect way to relax from the constant rush of sightseeing. It can truly give you the energy boost you need to enjoy your trip even more!
A major part of every ryokan are, of course, the rooms in which you stay. Therefore, I am happy to tell you that the rooms here are nothing short of spectacular. You can truly feel the weight of history and connect with culture in a way that most other types of accommodations simply cannot match. Each room is spectacular in its own way. Take for example the Sukiya (tea-ceremony) style room. The lighting of this room is dimmed to enhance the characteristic shadows found in Japanese rooms.
The alcove is decorated with the native grasses of the season, featuring paintings, calligraphy of Rosanjin. Also, there are hanging scrolls that have been handed down from generation to generation. Or the great “Wakana” room with an open-air bath. Or the great “Wakana” room with an open-air bath. Free-flowing hot water straight from the hot spring source comes into the room’s Japanese cypress bath. The layout is spaciously designed, with the main room connected to the bedroom, which is furnished with low beds. This guest room also features an open-air terrace, design chairs, and contemporary works of art specially picked by the proprietor – all for your enjoyment.
No stay at a ryokan would be complete without the delicious Japanese food. Depending on the season, chefs use different local ingredients to prepare exquisite meals for the guest of the ryokan. For example, in summer you will be able to tase oysters, neon flyings squids, eggplants, and watermelons. Whereas, in winter snow crabs, codfish, lotus root, and turnip are among the many ingredients the meals contain.
The ryokan is accessible in 40 min by the airport bus from Komatsu Airport. Or in 15-minutes by bus, or 10-minutes by taxi from Kaga Onsen Station. In addition, they offer a shuttle service from Kaga Onsen Station but you have to make a reservation.
To conclude, this is a truly unique place that is perfect for any fan of Japanese culture and history. The memories you make here will stay with you for the rest of your life. Check out Araya Totoan’s website to learn more about them!