What to Do in Kinosaki Onsen

The historic onsen town of Kinosaki in the far northern reaches of Hyogo Prefecture is primarily known for its hot springs, which are spread along willow-lined cobbled streets throughout the town in both public bathhouses and traditional Japanese ryokan inns alike.

  • Many visitors to the town spend the day walking from one hot spring to another, dressed in yukata - the summer version of kimono - soaking up the atmosphere of old Japan. Relaxing, unwinding and bathing in hot springs is the main activity in Kinosaki Onsen, but that doesn't mean there aren’t other activities to keep visitors entertained as well. Here we have compiled a list of five things one can do in the town of Kinosaki Onsen.

  • 02

    Rent a Bicycle

    Rent a Bicycle

    Rent a Bicycle

    The first building you see when you exit Kinosaki onsen station on the opposite side of the road is the Ryokan Information Center. This building is primarily there to help visitors find a place to stay during their visit to the area, but they also offer other services including bicycle rental. They have both traditional pedal bikes as well as power assisted electric push bikes. Hopping on either of these will allow you to cover a lot more ground and see the sights much quicker than by foot. The Ryokan Information Center also doubles up as a tourist information center so be sure to pick up a map in your language, and get some tips for places to check out once you’re on your bike!

    Prices are very reasonable at 800 yen per day for a regular pedal bike and 1,000 yen per day for a power assisted electric bike. Opening hours are between 9am and 5pm every day.

  • 03

    Visit an onsen

    Visit an onsen

    Visit an onsen

    As stated above the main activity in the town of Kinosaki Onsen is visiting the hot springs and bathhouses. Virtually all of the hotels and inns in Kinosaki have private hot spring baths, but for those who aren’t staying locally or who want to experience the public hot springs as well, there are a total of seven bathhouses spread throughout the town. Visitors can either pay for the bathhouses they want to enter at their respective entrances or pick up a seven-bath ticket for 1,200 yen that grants access to them all.

  • 04

    Visit Gokurakuji Temple

    Visit Gokurakuji Temple

    Visit Gokurakuji Temple

    This large and rather picturesque Zen temple of the Shingon Sect of Buddhism is situated about 10 minutes from Kinosaki Station by foot. It features a large wooden gate that leads visitors through a beautifully kept traditional Japanese stone garden to the main temple hall and its sweeping roof. The temple is situated at the foot of a small mountain that is covered in thick green forest, giving it a rather different feel from the cobbled streets of Kinosaki town.

    The Buddhist monks at Gokurakuji Temple also offer zazen meditation sessions for visitors curious to give it a try. You will learn how to sit, breath, and become aligned with your surroundings through meditation in front of the stone garden. For further information on the sessions either pop in to the temple itself or enquire at the tourist information center.

  • 05

    Drink onsen water

    Drink onsen water

    Drink onsen water

    Wait, what? Yes, you read that correctly. In the town of Kinosaki people not only bathe in the onsen water, but they also drink it! Scattered around the town are several drinking water fountains that dispense hot drinking water directly from its source. There are cups available nearby which you can use free of charge too. The water is said to have several health benefits including the easing of digestive pains and constipation.

  • 06

    Ride the Kinosaki Ropeway

    Ride the Kinosaki Ropeway

    Ride the Kinosaki Ropeway

    At the far end of the town is a ropeway station from where you can board a ropeway that takes you to the top of a mountain, affording panoramic views over the entire town and beyond, as far as the Sea of Japan. There are two stations one can alight and board the cable car at: The first is situated halfway up the mountain, and the second is at the top, where there is a viewing platform and also a small temple. For those who are feeling energetic you can skip the ropeway and take a set of stone steps to the top - a very long set of stone steps! Taking the gondola cable car is obviously much quicker. A return ticket on the ropeway is 900 yen.

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