Kobe may be famous for its beef, but at the edge of the city limits is a hidden treasure. Arima Onsen is a fabulous part of Kobe were locals escape to when the hustle and bustle of the big city is just too much. The town enjoys a less urban and more traditional atmosphere. Local businesses have capitalized on the location’s ease of access as the area is only an hour away from Kyoto or Osaka. Hotels have sprung up all around the scenic location because of the volcanic activity. Hot springs naturally form here, ones loaded with natural elements that are said to have health benefits. So, as well as relaxing in a luxurious hotel onsen, you can have the water enrich your skin and muscles with its therapeutic qualities. Japanese locals might swear by these onsen hotels, but what is best for foreigners who are not as familiar with these types of places? Well here is a list of the 10 most tourist-friendly onsen ryokans.
Motoyu Kosenkaku is a more modern ryokan, offering a blend of French and Japanese cuisine to guests. They also have a vegetarian option. Whilst Japanese people eat a lot of vegetables in their diet, 100% vegetarian food is still rare. You can also take advantage of the idyllic garden to stroll around in. It is good for the mind to surround yourself with perfectly grown plants and immaculately maintained water features.
Taketoritei Maruyama onsen ryokan markets itself to couples. The staff wants you and your partner to have the perfect, magical trip to Arima Onsen together. They offer a wide array of activities for couples to do together. You can ask the concierge for the best day trips close by, or for the perfect hiking route up the local mountains. Alternatively, you can just stay and enjoy the wonders of the hotel as it offers massages and onsen for private use. This means that you and your partner can bath together, just the two of you. The rooms are non-smoking so there is no need to worry about previous guests and the decor is all in line with traditional Japanese interior decorating. You can come home after a whirlwind of new experiences, sit peacefully on the tatami, meditating over the fabulous time you and your partner are having.
This is the original Arima Onsen Ryokan. Tosen Goshobo was founded in the 12th century and has been a local legend ever since. Frequented by the old Japanese aristocracy, with such famous patrons as novelist Junichiro Tanizaki, this is a must stay ryokan for anybody wanting to immerse themselves in Japanese traditional culture. The ryokan overlooks Taki River and is only five minutes away from the station, meaning there is easy access both for transport and for exploring nature. Because this hotel is the oldest and most authentic of the selection, you can bath outside. Traditionally Japanese people would enjoy the natural hot-springs outside, leave the harsh winter winds and dip into the warm volcanic embrace of the waters. It’s quite an amazing feeling to sit in the toasty water, yet have your head be pleasantly cool. This is the way onsen was originally enjoyed and why they became so popular. The ryokan has 20 rooms, in which you can have classic Japanese meals brought up to you, along with green tea to be truly Japanese. The food and drink are all of the highest quality, featuring Kobe beef, sake and selection of internationally praised wines.
Miyukisou Hanamusubi ryokan prides its self on great customer service and an authentically Japanese decor. Feel like you have traveled back in time yet kept the modern convenience of the present in one of the ryokan’s Stella classic Japanese rooms. The ryokan’s baths can be rented out privately, meaning this location is also great for a romantic and intimate soak with your lover. After your bath, you can relax with a massage or dine on fine Kaiseki multiple course meals.
Negiya Ryofukaku ryokan onsen do their best to meet all of their guests’ needs. The staff is always happy to help you with your luggage storage whilst you go off and explore the local museums or hiking trails. Inside the Ryokan, Kaiseki style meals are served with a variety of options to choose from, both Japanese and western foods are available. All of the rooms have amazing views overlooking the forests of Arima. You can also enjoy the scenery whilst relaxing in the outdoor onsen. This is a great experience for someone wanting to know how Japanese people first enjoyed the hot springs, but if you’re not a fan of bathing outside Negiya Ryofukaku has indoor facilities as well. You get to choose the perfect settings for your onsen experience.
Ginsuisou Choraku onsen ryokan is located in the north of Arima town, surrounded by luscious trees. The hotel boasts a whopping 10 hot- spring baths that guests can use as they please. As well as this the ryokan has an outdoor pool where you can take a few laps. Being a ryokan this hotel is set out in a more traditional Japanese style. Guests can choose from rooms with western style beds or Japanese futons and high-quality tatami matted floors. The windows are also fitted with Classic shoji paper screens and the furniture is all in keeping with this traditional Japanese aesthetic. Guests are encouraged to sample the hotel menu, as the chefs prepare Japanese style Kaiseki meals that have multiple courses. The staff also offer massages and karaoke rooms so that guests can relax and be themselves.
Hyoe Koyokaku Ryokan onsen are very proud of their Kinsen, or red water. The volcanic activity of the area heats up pockets of fresh water, but it also loads them with minerals such as iron that change the color. The minerals are said to be good for the skin and have healing properties. There are two red baths and they can be reserved for private use. This hotel also offers multi-course Kaiseki dinners and a buffet for guests who might only want to partake in certain items.
Nakanobo Zuien ryokan onsen is perfectly set up for international guests. They make an effort to hire staff who speak multiple languages and offer free shuttle buses to and from the airport. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, only 17 KM (10 miles) away. Breakfast is in a traditional Japanese style and can be taken to guest rooms to make them feel as special as the ryokan wants them to feel. The ryokan provides traditionally styled rooms along with access to their very clean and well-maintained onsen. As the staff speak English, you will not have to worry about any awkward situations of social faux pas.
Located in the very heart of Arima Onsen, Arima Gyoen ryokan onsen is super convenient. You can use this ryokan as a base to visit anywhere in the surrounding area and have no problems at all. The onsens are filled with the red water that is said to be therapeutic because of the earth minerals it contains, and the dark color also allows for some privacy that pure water onsen may not.
Gekkoen Yugetsusanso onsen ryokan is a fantastic place to stay in Arima. It is made up of two buildings connected together by a bridge over the Takigawa River. The lobby is on one side and the rooms are on the other. You can stand out on the bridge and watch the waters coursing past any time of day or night. You can also enjoy the river by taking a dip in one of the two outdoor baths. These are natural, free-flowing baths called “Yufuku no Yu” and “Tamahoko no Yu”. They are named after the god of children who is enshrined at the local Tosen temple. There are also a number of onsen located inside with various different types of water. Some have natural volcanic elements, others are more clean and pure. You are encouraged to try them all. They also offer a breakfast buffet with food from all around the world.
The hidden gem
Just outside of Kobe City is a pocket of authentic Japan. Arima is a highly traditional Japanese town where tourists can get back to basics and enjoy historical Japanese culture like rest in one of these delightful onsen ryokans.
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