Araya Totoan is an intimate and luxurious ryokan nestled in the heart of the Japanese countryside. Here between the shadows of Mt. Hakusan, the waters of the Japan Sea, and the vastness of the Kaga Plain is the Tamashiro onsen of Kaga, a hot spring resort destination steeped in 1,300-year old traditions and timeless Japanese essence.

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The intimacy of Araya Totoan is a product of its hospitality. Run by the same family for 18 generations, travelers are greeted as friends with green tea and mocha and the type of personalized service only a small ryokan can offer. Inside, guests will find themselves completely immersed in the rich culture of Japan, surrounded by tranquil zen gardens, washi-paper sliding doors, tatami-mat flooring, and Kutani ware pottery and contemporary artworks by the renowned calligrapher and painter Kitaoji Rosanjin, who spent a year here at the beginning of the 20th century and lent his artistic treasures to the property. There are only 18 rooms at Araya Totoan, each with large living and dining rooms and separate sleeping areas, as well as private terraces and aromatic outdoor baths fed by the hot springs, which face out toward the property’s tranquil gardens where the colors are ever changing with the seasons.

In addition to the private baths, Araya Totoan also hosts three authentic Japanese public baths, each one unique in design. One is built of fragrant wood nestled next to a small garden, while another sits on a spring-fed pond lined in mossy boulders and yet another inhabits a misty cave-like space of black walls and faint natural lighting. Araya Totoan enjoys quite the monopoly of Yamashiro’s precious waters, gushing 100,000 liters per day into its several baths—more than any other onsen in the region.

Not to be outdone by the hot springs, the cuisine of Araya Totoan is equally as memorable. Dinners are Kaga-style Kaiseki feasts served on rare Kutani ceramic and Yamanaka lacquer ware, comprised of handmade gems by local artisans, antiques handed down from generation to generation, and replicas of works created by Kitaoji Rosanjin. Framed by the picturesque Japanese gardens, these multi-course dinners utilize the best of Kaga’s seasonal ingredients, from red sea bream and chrysanthemum in the spring to snow crabs and daikon in the winter. After dinner, guests are invited to enjoy a drink at the charming Arisugawa-Sanso lounge, a secret hideout located in a detached wooden cottage, once the housing of choice for the Imperial Family over 100 years ago. It would seem that the fine-tuned charms of Araya Totoan are found around every corner, whether in centuries-old design, ancient spring-strewn gardens, and timeless familial hospitality.

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