Kosoyu (Traditional communal bathhouse)

Photo:Kosoyu Photo:Kosoyu Photo:Kosoyu Photo:Kosoyu Photo:Kosoyu Photo:Kosoyu

Karasu-yu Legend

Yamashiro Onsen, one of the best hot springs in the Hokuriku region, was opened in the 2nd year of the Jinki period (725).
There is an anecdote about the origins of this hot spring that goes something like this:
On his pilgrimage to Sacred Mt. Hakusan, the high priest Gyoki found a purple cloud trail and headed towards it. He then spotted a crow (the yatagarasu, or a three-footed Chinese sacred bird) tended its wounded wing in a puddle. As he drew closer he discovered that the puddle was actually a hot spring. Our hotel sits on the site described as the hot spring source in the Karasu-yu Legend, which is also the original source of Yamashiro Onsen.

In the initial years following its discovery, the hot spring was mainly used by local farmers and townspeople to wipe off the mud from rice planting or as reward for the hard labor put forth in the rice harvest.
However, after a houou (a retired emperor that entered the priesthood) ordered the construction of the shichido-garan (a complete set of seven standard temple buildings) at Yakuoin Onsenji Temple, the main temple of worship in this hot-spring resort, Yamashiro Onsen and Yakuoin became known throughout the country. Since that time, influential persons of each historical period have visited for therapeutic purposes, such as Akechi Mitsuhide and Maeda Toshiie, the latter being the first lord of Kaga-han.

Bath attendant to the lord of the han

In the 16th year of the Kan-ei period (1639) Maeda Toshiharu was given a part of the Kaga-han fief and became the first lord of Daishoji-han, with an income base equal to 100,000 koku (1 koku indicates the amount of rice needed to feed a person for one year). Toshiharu demonstrated a great sense of hospitality to Yamashiro Onsen, where he decided to keep his special reservoir of hot-water.

He designated Araya Gen-emon, the first proprietor of Araya, to be bath attendant and asked him to hold the key to the reservoir.
The key to the reservoir used to entertain the lords of the han was carefully passed down through generations of proprietors. The key remained in our custody until the time of the 16th Gen-emon (the proprietor two generations before), when the present common bath outside the hotels was constructed.

Yunogawa and the development of the Yamashiro area

By the last year of the Bunka period (1817) there were already 19 hot-spring hotels in Yamasahiro. However, only Araya and five other hotels had their own hot-spring baths inside the hotel grounds.
At that time a system of hollowed-out pine trees served as the water-supply pipes, sending hot water from the hot spring source of Araya through a common bath to each hotel of the other five hotels.

As a result, the hotels were built around the common bath, creating the townscape that is seen today.
The area around the common bath is called "yunogawa", which indicates an area that encloses hot spring water. It stands as the center of Yamashiro Onsen, welcoming countless visitors that have come to bath in its water.

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