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Top 5 things to do in Kinosaki

Partners Information: Kinosaki Onsen is an onsen town in northern Hyogo Prefecture with over 1300 years of history. The picturesque town radiates old-world charm with its willow-lined canal, traditional wooden architecture and visitors strolling around in yukata (casual kimono) and geta (traditional wooden clogs). 

There are myriad things to do in Kinosaki and its surrounds, so if you're wondering where to start here are 5 quintessential experiences and activities to consider for your next trip.  


1. Go onsen-hopping

The town is home to seven public onsen (hot spring bathhouses), all located within walking distance of one another. While each onsen has its own distinct charms and features, all seven are tattoo friendly. 

Guests who stay in a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) receive a pass to all seven, so during your stay you can visit as many bathhouses as you want. Enjoy strolling through town and basking in the area’s peaceful atmosphere in between relaxing at each onsen. 

Early birds might like to note that the first male and female guests of the day to any of the seven bathhouses will receive a custom wooden plaque with the name of the bathhouse and the date of entry.


2. Sport a yukata and geta

Most visitors, regardless of age or gender, get dressed in yukata and geta to stroll through the town during their visit. 

A yukata is a cotton summer kimono, originally worn as bathrobes but now worn for a variety of events and activities, including onsen-hopping. Geta are a form of traditional Japanese footwear that often have a wooden base, and the click-clacking sound they make on the streets adds to the nostalgic atmosphere    in Kinosaki. 

Most inns in Kinosaki will provide you with a yukata and geta upon arrival to use during your stay, but those looking for a wider selection of yukata to choose from can also visit IROHA Yukata Shop & Rental. 


3. Ride the Kinosaki Ropeway

Take the ropeway up Mt Daishi for some great views and to experience a slice of the town’s history. For those seeking a bit more action, there is also a hiking course up the mountain that takes around 45 minutes one way.  

Halfway up the up the mountain you’ll come across Onsenji Temple, an ancient temple built in 738. Up until the Edo Period (1603-1867) it was a pilgrimage site for visitors to the onsen who would stop by to pray for a blessing to be healed by the waters before entering the sacred hot springs. 

At the top of the mountain stands a cozy cafe where you can enjoy a drink and a bite to eat while enjoying the beautiful townscape below, a view that was awarded one star in the Michelin Green Guide Japan. 


4. Experience a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn)

A visit to a traditional hot spring town is incomplete without a stay in a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn. Ryokan are imbued with tradition making staying at one a memorable and cultural experience, and is a great way to experience omotenashi, the famous Japanese hospitality.

There are over 74 ryokan in Kinosaki Onsen ranging in size and price, making it easy to find one to suit your needs and budget. The rooms typically have tatami mat flooring, a low table and floor cushions for seating and a futon for sleeping, although some places also offer western-style rooms and bedding. 

A ryokan stay typically includes a Japanese-style banquet for dinner and a Japanese-style set for breakfast. For dinner, many ryokan in Kinosaki use local ingredients such as the snow crab in winter and Tajima beef (a premium brand of wagyu) all year round. 


5. Learn about a traditional local craft and try it for yourself

Straw craft, called mugiwara zaiku in Japanese, is a unique, traditional handicraft with vibrant colours and intricate patterns. Originating in Kinosaki Onsen, this straw craft is only produced by a handful of craftsmen in Kinosaki. Visit the Straw Craft Museum and Kamiya Mingei Shop to learn about its history and try making it yourself.

At the museum, you can drop in any time and decorate a small fan or postcard with pre-cut straw pieces. In the Kamiya Mingei Shop, you can observe the straw craft process, get a private tour of the craftsman’s workshop and make your own original straw craft design on a small box to take home as a souvenir.  


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