Kinosaki Onsen 城崎温泉
An historic onsen town steeped in the legend of a visionary Buddhist monk
Kinosaki is an old onsen town located in northern Hyogo Prefecture . The town is surrounded by mountains and sea, and offers seasonal treats such as spring cherry blossoms, cool summers and large winter snowfalls.
- Taking a dip in one of the many hot springs
- Strolling about town in a yukata
- Making a sidetrip to Onsenji Temple and nearby mountains
How to Get There
Kinosaki Onsen is the town's closest train station and is connected by the Sanin Main Line to Kyoto and Osaka.
Direct trains take about two and a half hours from Osaka to Toyooka Station, where you change onto a local train to Kinosaki Onsen.
A riverside town
On either side of the Maruyama River are numerous Japanese inns, or ryokan, most of which have their own onsen baths.
The seven public baths dotted around the town are the main draw of Kinosaki. Visitors to the area can buy a pass for just over 1,000 yen that gives access to all seven. Additionally, hot bubbling foot baths can be found in numerous locations. If you are staying at one of the town's ryokan, all of the public onsen can be accessed for free if you ask for a pass.
Slip on a yukata and stroll about town
It is not uncommon to see visitors to the area walking around the town in yukata—the thin cotton garments that are closely associated with Japanese onsen towns. During the colder winter months, a warm haori jacket is worn on top of the yukata to keep out the cold.
The light robes allow you to slowly cool off between baths and are far more convenient for changing into and out of when visiting a number of hot springs.
The town's mysterious origins
Towards the western end of Kinosaki is Onsenji Temple, which is dedicated to the Buddhist priest who supposedly founded Kinosaki in the 8th century. Legend has it that a priest named Douchi Shonin arrived in Kinosaki in the year 717 after receiving a vision that told him to pray for the health of the local people for 1,000 days. When he completed his mission, hot water shot from the ground and created the onsen the town was built around.
Once upon a time, visitors had to pray at the temple before they were allowed to enter the baths. While this is no longer the custom, the temple is still a great place to visit and can be combined with an enjoyable stroll through the mountains at Kinosaki's western edge.
The main hall of the temple can either be accessed by a short walk up the mountain or by taking the ropeway, which goes onwards to an observation deck at the top of the mountain.
The Kinosaki Stork Sanctuary
Due to loss of habitat, the Oriental stork became extinct in Japan in 1971. The last bird actually died near Kinosaki. Konotori no Sato Park was built to reintroduce the bird to Japan, using storks from Russia. The park is ten kilometers south of Kinosaki and can be reached by bus from Toyooka Station.
The area around Kinosaki is great for exploration and includes the Kannabe Highland area. Here, visitors can enjoy climbing and hiking in the summer or skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing during the winter. The town of Kinosaki receives regular snowfall and is perhaps at its prettiest during this season, as the river area is lined with a foot or more of fresh snow.