The river gorge walk was beautiful & there were almost no people walking along the river on the day when we were there. If you get the "Yamanaka Onsen Walking Map" it gets less beautiful beyond the gorge and after the 2nd bridge and then it gets desolate & depressing so you should walk into town after that second bridge. There were abandoned hotels and homes and apartment buildings at the end of the walking tour. I'm not sure why it's on the map and we kept going further and further waiting for it to get beautiful again but it didn't.
The public onsen in the town centre isn't expensive at all if you are paying to enter. It was actually free for people who were staying in a hotel in one of the onsen towns which we were in Kaga Onsen. Our hotel baths were much much much nicer and the floor in the locker room wasn't very reassuring without any socks on so if you are picky about cleanliness, this might not be the experience you are looking for. It was very crowded too so that made it less comfortable as well.
The cake shop on the main shopping street that looks fairly new and high-end has a seating area on the second floor and it was a great place for a cakey-set break! Delicious cake.
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