Located at the northern coast of Japan is the charming Kinosaki Onsen Town that is hugely popular among residents in Hyogo, Kyoto, and even Osaka. With a river canal running across the town surrounded by nearby mountains, this onsen town is one of the best place in Japan for visitors to experience the unique japanese onsen experience.
Driving to Kinosaki
After Amanohashidate and before heading to the Tottori Sand Dunes, we made an overnight stop at Kinosaki Onsen town and booked a night accomodation at one of the many ryokans found here. Drawing hot spring water from the onsen, there are 7 public baths in the small town for overnight stayers to use for free. Each of these baths is unique on its own, with different indoor and outdoor decorations. Recommended to try all of them if you have the time.
We arrived in the late afternoon after an hour drive from Amanohashidate and checked in to our ryokan. This was one of the cheaper rooms and offer very basic amenities, no meals included. Transport by train is also possible and it takes around 2-3 hours from Kyoto.
Exploring the town and public baths
We changed into the yukata provided by the ryokan and went roaming around the town. In Japanese onsen town, it is common and recommended to wear yukata and walk around town.
A small canal cuts across the town lined with traditional Japanese shophouses. This thousand year old onsen town offers lots of Japanese history and culture. While strolling along the canal, we came across old temples and bronze statues, stone lanterns and many bridges that looked like hundreds of years old.
It was early summer but the weather on this day was windy and cooling. Perfect for a stroll.
On this day, we did not have much time and only managed to visit just 3 of the 7 public baths. Some of the baths are housed in traditional Japanese house like the below. Amazing architecture from the outside but we were more amazed to see the inside bath area where many hot springs were built around the surrounding nature. And the best part? All the public baths are free to use!
Seafood for dinner
As night falls, we were starving after all the bathing and soaking, and went searching for a restaurant for food. The Kinosaki area is just along the sea of Japan so seafood is definitely our choice for dinner. This restaurant is well known in town and look at the menu, there were so much on offer! We went for crabs, clams, oysters and fried ebi.
Things to do
Besides soaking in onsen, there were many more activities to do at Kinosaki Onsen. You can go hiking in the many surrounding hills or mountains, visiting the Kinosaki International Arts Center, or go shopping at the many souvenir shops.
During summer, there are daily fireworks at the town area. And in cherry blossom season, the river lined cherry tress offer the perfect photo taking opportunity. Kinosaki onsen also looks amazing during winter with snow covered traditional houses and trees.
In Summary, Kinosaki Onsen is one of the best onsen town we had visited in Japan and we recommend it. The only downside is, this area is a little hard to get to, so renting a car is one of the better method. If you are looking for itineraries to explore the area, take a look at our road trip that covers Kyoto, Tottori and Himeji here.