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Yuwaku Onsen is a 1,300-year-old hot-springs resort tucked between mountains along the Asano River south of Kanazawa. Ten mid-size traditional inns line its slim main street, leading to a small hillside shrine and a man-made pond.

Earlier this month, I shuffled behind a procession of lantern-bearing priests and local residents in yukata (summer kimono) for the town’s seventh annual Bonbori Matsuri (lantern festival). Some 15,000 other tourists joined me.

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