Ginzan Onsen is a village in Yamagata Prefecture, in the Tohoku region, northeast of Honshu Island. This village is famous for its thermal baths, the famous Onsen, hot baths whose water comes from volcanic springs and which have therapeutic properties according to the Japanese.
Ginzan Onsen is very easily accessible from Tokyo. To get there, take the Shinkansen line (Yamagata line) to Oishida station (3 hours and 20 minutes), then take the bus to Ginzan Onsen (35 minutes). The destination is well served, with a bus every hour or every 1 hour 30.
Historically, the place was not known for its hot baths but especially for its silver mines. Ginzan also means “silver mine” in Japanese. Only then did hot springs develop and the place became a favourite destination for onsen lovers.
Ginzan Onsen is a small village with only one street entirely pedestrian and bordered by a river, ryôkan (traditional Japanese inns), and some shops. All the buildings are old and date from the beginning of the 20th century: the visit of the village takes us back to the time of ancient Japan. The thermal baths of the ryokan are open to the public without having to pay an overnight stay, and the price varies between 300 and 1,500 yen, or about 2 to 12 €.
Apart from the thermal baths, the village of Ginzan Onsen offers beautiful opportunities for a traveller to visit. For a nice walk, you can walk along the Ginzan River or visit the Shirogane no taki waterfall (22 meters high). Nature lovers will also enjoy Shirogane Park; while culture lovers can visit the former Nobesawa Ginzan Silver Mine: 30-minute guided tours are organized inside the mine and you can discover excavations that are more than 500 years old!
The best time to go to Ginzan Onsen is in the fall or spring. However, the village is beautiful under the snow in winter, offering an atypical postcard view. However, as far as the silver mine is concerned, it is closed at this time of year.