The Ultimate Travel Guide to Kinosaki Onsen, the Best Hot Spring Town in Hyogo Prefecture
Kinosaki Onsen is a hot spring ("onsen" in Japanese) town in Hyogo Prefecture that can be reached from Osaka in about 2 hours and 30 minutes by train. This makes it a great day trip option for anyone visiting Osaka, especially if they're tired of exploring all the main cities of Japan. This article covers everything you need to know about this amazing place, from the best places to stay to what kind of activities you can do there. Keep reading to learn more!
Apr 11 2019 (Sep 09 2020)
What is Kinosaki Onsen?
Kinosaki Onsen is an area in Hyogo Prefecture with 7 public bath houses placed along a river lined with willow trees. These bathing facilities are filled with 42°C (107.6°F) hot spring water that is known for helping with nerve, muscular, and stomach pain. Surrounding them are several traditional inns ("ryokan" in Japanese) where people can stay overnight and enjoy traditional Japanese meals.
Don't Miss out on the Sotoyu Meguri
Generally, visitors take a stroll along the river to visit all 7 of the public bath houses in Kinosaki Onsen, as it is believed this will grant them good luck. This practice is called "Sotoyu Meguri", literally "strolling around the outer baths". A single pass is all you need to get access to all the bath houses, and if you stay overnight at one of the beautiful inns in the area, you can get this pass for free!
Hot Spring Drinking Fountains and Foot Baths
Who said hot spring waters are only good for bathing? You can find drinking fountains in front of the train station and Ichino-yu (one of the 7 bath houses) that are filled with drinkable hot spring water! Go ahead and take a sip, especially if you suffer from chronic digestive issues!
As you wander throughout the town, you should eventually stumble upon this landmark. Named "Shirosaki Onsen", this is actually the oldest hot spring source of the whole area. The temperature of its waters reach a stunning 80°C (176°F)!
Both inside the bath houses and outside, you will find hot spring baths for your feet, called "ashiyu" in Japanese. They're great for warming your feet up on a cold day!
Stroll Around Town in a Yukata
Unless you don't mind feeling like a fish out of water, you're going to need a yukata for your Sotoyu Meguri. A yukata is the light version of a kimono, and it comes in equally beautiful colors and designs. Most facilities in Kinosaki Onsen allow you to either rent or buy your yukata set, which includes the robe, the obi (belt), a pair of wooden sandals called "geta", and sometimes even matching accessories. Don't worry if you don't know how to wear it - a staff member will usually help you put it on!
Enjoy Some Street Food While You're Here
Kinosaki Sweets Main Branch
There's nothing quite like wandering around town all dressed up while snacking on various foods. One of the best places for snacks is Kinosaki Sweets Main Branch. As you might guess from its name, it makes desserts like ice cream, parfaits, and baked sweets with local ingredients.
Their Kinosaki Gelato is an incredibly popular treat among Sotoyu Meguri participants. Made with all-natural ingredients, this dessert comes in a variety of flavors - matcha, raspberry, mango, and so on - and will perk you right up.
Seasonal Events in Kinosaki Onsen
While you can visit Kinosaki Onsen any time of the year, it is recommended to plan your trip around one of its seasonal events. The picture above shows a glimpse of the Danjiri Festival, which is the biggest event in town. Held on October 14th and 15th every year, it is meant to bring in good luck.
A "danjiri" is a decorated wooden cart, like the one you can see above. During this festival, several danjiri are paraded around town. It's a stunning sight that will remain in your memory even after you leave Japan!
Another one-of-a-kind experience can be had with the Kani Okoku, a festival dedicated to crabs ("kani" in Japanese) that coincides with the crab season in Japan, which is from November to March. Kinosaki Onsen is home to ridiculously good snow crab thanks to its proximity to the Sea of Japan, and during the crab season, visitors get to sample this crab in restaurants and ryokan all across town! There's even an award ceremony for the best crab caught in that time period!
If you want to fully experience all of Kinosaki Onsen, it is recommended to spend at least one night there. Not sure which ryokan or hotel is the best to stay at? Check out the article below for some ideas!
Rice Flour Cheesecake at Kinosaki Sweets Main Branch
Mentioned before for its delicious gelato, Kinosaki Sweets happens to also be the best place to buy souvenirs for your family and friends! The little treats in the photo above are artisanal baked cheesecakes made with rice flour. They come in several flavor variations, such as chooclate, matcha, and vanilla, and are the perfect size to satisfy your sweet tooth without overeating!
What makes these little cheesecakes even more special is that the rice used for the flour are grown in fields inhabited by storks. These birds are considered to be symbols of happiness, and it is this happiness that the patissiers of this shop aim to transmit to their customers. A wonderful sentiment, no?
Now that you know what to do, what to wear, places to eat, and even where to stay, consider visiting Kinosaki Onsen the next time you have some days off or just feel like having a relaxing weekend! You may enjoy the experience so much that you'll repeat it multiple times.
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.