The town of Kinosaki Onsen is an easy, one-train, roughly three hour ride over the mountains and through the woods from anywhere along the Kobe-Osaka-Kyoto corridor. The town has lovely onsen (natural hot springs), all within walking distance of each other along tree-lined canals. You’ll want to visit at least a few of them, so don’t steep yourself for too long in any of the baths, and do buy a day pass for 1,200 JPY (approximately 10 USD), which will allow you unlimited entry to all seven oases. Pictured above is Gosho no Yu, one of the especially nice onsen.
More than just bathing, the town has lots of restaurants, shops, and even a ropeway which will take you up the mountain to a temple, where you will also find expansive views of the valley below. But it is the onsen town itself, situated in this narrow valley, which will most charm you with not only its hot springs and shops, but also historic buildings from as far back as the late 1920s, when the town was rebuilt following a devastating earthquake.
Head for the beach!
With the eponymous train station conveniently located along the onsen strand, Kinosaki can garner quite the crowd on weekends. While Japanese lodges can be had all over town, a nice juxtaposition to your day at the springs can be had just a twenty minute train ride further down the line, in Kamicho.
It's just a few steps in "geta" (traditional wooden sandals) to the seashore!
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
A great place to stay in Kamicho is Nagisa Ryokan (traditional inn), which is situated right along the beach. It’s a simple, family-run affair, spotlessly clean, with spacious tatami rooms and communal bathing facilities. You can also hear the gentle sounds of the ocean, and even take a swim in it (warmest in summer, but be warned the jellyfish tend to make their entrance in late August). Even if it’s not the right time for a swim, you’ll be sure to find that a beachside stroll is both relaxing and rewarding. Climb up the stairs at the east end of the cove for a splendid view from a little hut that is just perfect for some quiet repose.
Bounty from the sea
For Japanese, one of – if not the highlight – of a trip to the country is the food, and Nagisa Ryokan will not disavow this assertion. Being on the sea in an area famous for its seafood, you can be sure crab and local fish will make a delicious appearance. Your dinner of honest, country-style Japanese food will be presented across a great selection of dishes, perhaps even sending you into a tailspin of indecision. And if you like “Kobe beef,” try Tajima beef (pre-order, with a small additional charge) and prepare to be wowed. A well thought out Japanese hot breakfast will also be on deck after your deep, ocean lulled slumber.
Reward yourself with a refreshing onsen experience!
It’s really hard to beat the successive beauties of a train ride through the mountains, onsen hopping in an atmospheric town, and a night on the beach in a traditional Japanese inn with a seafood horn of plenty like this. Take the challenge, and be rewarded.
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