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How To Visit The Kinosaki Onsens


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Marianne Blaisdell



Welcome to the enchanting world of Kinosaki Onsens, a remarkable destination nestled in the heart of Japan. Renowned for its natural hot springs, traditional architecture, and rich cultural heritage, Kinosaki is a must-visit for anyone seeking relaxation and a taste of authentic Japanese hospitality.


Steeped in history, the origins of Kinosaki Onsens can be traced back over 1,300 years. The town was established during the Heian period and quickly gained popularity amongst nobles and samurai as a therapeutic retreat. Today, Kinosaki has retained its traditional charm and continues to attract visitors from all corners of the globe.


At the heart of Kinosaki lies its hot spring resorts. With seven public bathhouses, known as sotoyu, and numerous ryokans offering private onsens, visitors are spoiled for choice. Soaking in these mineral-rich waters is not only a rejuvenating experience, but also a chance to immerse oneself in the history and traditions of Japanese onsen culture.


Aside from its hot springs, Kinosaki offers a picturesque setting characterized by winding canals, stone bridges, and streets lined with traditional wooden buildings. Strolling through the town, you’ll feel transported back in time as you admire the elegant architecture and serene atmosphere.


But Kinosaki is not just about relaxation and beauty. The town boasts a vibrant cultural scene, with various festivals held throughout the year. One of the highlights is the “Onsen Matsuri” in October, where locals and visitors alike gather to celebrate the onsen culture through parades, performances, and traditional dances.


Whether you’re seeking a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, or a cultural adventure into the heart of Japan, Kinosaki Onsens has something for everyone. So, get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey as we explore the best of this captivating town.


What are Kinosaki Onsens

Kinosaki Onsens are a collection of natural hot springs located in the charming town of Kinosaki, Japan. These traditional baths have been a popular destination for relaxation and healing for centuries.


What sets Kinosaki Onsens apart is not just the healing properties of the hot springs, but also the unique atmosphere and experience they offer. The town itself is like stepping into a bygone era, with its historic buildings, narrow streets, and tranquil canals.


There are seven public bathhouses, known as sotoyu, in Kinosaki. Each sotoyu has its own distinctive style and charm, from the rustic Goshono-yu with its thatched roof to the elegant Ichino-yu with its beautiful garden. Visitors can purchase a special pass called the “Yumepa” which grants access to all the sotoyu, allowing them to indulge in a different bathing experience at each one.


In addition to the public bathhouses, many ryokans, or traditional Japanese inns, in the town offer private onsens for their guests. These intimate baths allow visitors to enjoy a more secluded and personal onsen experience, often accompanied by stunning views of the surrounding nature.


The mineral-rich hot spring waters of Kinosaki are believed to have various health benefits, such as relieving muscle and joint pain, improving circulation, and promoting relaxation. The hot springs are sourced from the nearby mountains and are known for their high-quality and purity.


Aside from their therapeutic value, Kinosaki Onsens are also deeply ingrained in the local culture and way of life. Bathing in the onsens is not only about physical healing, but also about spiritual and emotional rejuvenation. The act of soaking in the hot waters, surrounded by serene nature, is a form of meditation and a way to reconnect with oneself.


Whether you choose to visit the public bathhouses or indulge in a private onsen at a ryokan, experiencing Kinosaki Onsens is a journey into the heart of Japanese culture and tradition. Soak in the therapeutic waters, immerse yourself in the peaceful ambiance, and let the calming energy of the onsens revitalize your body, mind, and soul.


Best Time to Visit

Kinosaki Onsens offer a unique experience in every season, making it a year-round destination. However, there are certain times of the year that stand out for their charm and special events.


One of the best times to visit Kinosaki is during the autumn months of September to November. The foliage transforms the town into a picturesque wonderland, with vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow painting the landscape. The autumn scenery, combined with the soothing hot springs, creates a truly magical and serene atmosphere.


Another popular time to visit is in the winter, particularly from December to February. Kinosaki becomes a winter wonderland, with snow-covered streets and rooftops creating a magical setting. The hot springs take on an extra enchantment as you soak in the warm waters while snowflakes fall gently around you. The town also hosts the “Snow Lantern Festival” in February, where the streets are lit up by numerous lanterns made of ice and snow, creating a breathtaking spectacle.


Spring in Kinosaki, from March to May, brings with it the beauty of cherry blossoms. The town is adorned with delicate pink blooms, creating a romantic and ethereal atmosphere. Strolling along the canals, lined with cherry blossom trees, is a truly enchanting experience. Spring is also a time for festivals, with the “Cherry Blossom Festival” being a highlight of the season.


Summertime in Kinosaki, from June to August, offers its own unique allure. The verdant greenery, warm weather, and the sound of flowing water create a refreshing and rejuvenating ambiance. It is an ideal time to explore the surrounding nature, hike along the nearby mountains, or take a leisurely boat ride along the canals. The summer season also brings lively events such as the “Bon Festival” where the streets come alive with traditional dances and music.


Ultimately, the best time to visit Kinosaki Onsens depends on personal preferences and the experience you’re looking for. Whether it’s the vibrant colors of autumn, the serene snow-covered streets of winter, the delicate blossoms of spring, or the lush greenery of summer, Kinosaki Onsens offers a captivating experience in every season.


How to Get to Kinosaki

Kinosaki is conveniently located on the northern coast of Japan, making it accessible by various modes of transportation. Here are the most common ways to reach this enchanting town:

  1. By Train: The most popular and convenient way to reach Kinosaki is by train. The town is well connected to major cities in Japan, with the nearest train station being Kinosaki Onsen Station. From Kyoto, you can take the Limited Express Kinosaki or the Kinosaki train, both of which offer a comfortable journey with picturesque views. From Osaka, the Limited Express Konotori or Hamakaze will take you directly to Kinosaki Onsen Station. The train ride itself is a scenic experience, with breathtaking views of the countryside and coastal areas.
  2. By Air: If you’re coming from a further distance, you can fly into Osaka International Airport (Itami Airport) or Kansai International Airport. From there, you can take a train or bus to reach Kinosaki. The journey by train from Osaka takes around 2-3 hours, while from Kansai International Airport, it takes approximately 3-4 hours.
  3. By Bus: Buses are another option to reach Kinosaki, particularly if you’re traveling from nearby cities or towns. There are direct bus services available from Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe. The bus ride offers a comfortable and affordable way to reach Kinosaki, and the scenic views along the way are an added bonus.

Once you arrive at Kinosaki Onsen Station, the town center is just a short walk away. You can easily explore the town on foot or make use of the local transportation, such as rental bicycles, rickshaws, or taxis, to get around.


It’s worth noting that Kinosaki is a popular tourist destination, especially during peak seasons, so it’s advisable to book your travel tickets in advance to secure your preferred travel dates. Also, be sure to check the train and bus schedules to plan your journey accordingly.


Whether you choose to travel by train, plane, or bus, the journey to Kinosaki is part of the experience. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenic beauty of Japan as you make your way to this charming onsen town.


Where to Stay in Kinosaki

When visiting Kinosaki, finding the perfect accommodation is essential to enhance your experience. Fortunately, the town offers a range of options to suit different preferences and budgets. Here are some of the best places to stay in Kinosaki:

  1. Ryokans: A stay at a traditional Japanese ryokan is a must when visiting Kinosaki. These charming inns provide an authentic and immersive experience, allowing guests to indulge in the town’s rich cultural heritage. Ryokans feature tatami-matted rooms, sliding doors, and futon beds, along with warm hospitality and exquisite kaiseki meals. Some of the popular ryokans in Kinosaki include Nishimuraya Honkan, Mikuniya, and Yorozuya.
  2. Modern Hotels: For those who prefer more contemporary accommodation, Kinosaki also offers modern hotels with a wide range of amenities. These hotels provide comfortable and convenient stays, with options for both budget and luxury travelers. Hotel Kawaguchiya, Kinosaki Yamamotoya, and Hotel Kinosaki Wakamatsu are some of the well-regarded hotels in the town.
  3. Minshuku and Guesthouses: If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option or seeking a casual and communal atmosphere, consider staying at a minshuku or guesthouse. These establishments offer cozy rooms, shared facilities, and the opportunity to interact with fellow travelers. Some popular choices include Koishiya, Hanaya, and Yushima Guesthouse.
  4. Private Onsen Ryokans: For a truly indulgent and luxurious experience, consider booking a stay at a ryokan that offers private onsen facilities. These ryokans provide private open-air baths or rooms with their own hot springs, allowing guests to enjoy the therapeutic waters in complete privacy. Taikyourou, Gonzaemon, and Kinosaki Onsen Takinoyu are known for their exceptional private onsen accommodations.

Regardless of where you choose to stay, all accommodations in Kinosaki offer warm hospitality, intricate attention to detail, and a chance to immerse yourself in the tranquil ambiance of the town. Many establishments have English-speaking staff to ensure a smooth and enjoyable stay for international visitors.


It is advisable to make reservations in advance, especially during peak seasons, to secure your preferred choice of accommodation. With a variety of options available, you can find the perfect place to relax and rejuvenate during your time in Kinosaki.


Exploring Kinosaki

Kinosaki is a town that offers a delightful mix of natural beauty, cultural experiences, and historical charm. Here are some of the top things to explore during your visit:

  1. Public Bathhouses (Sotoyu): One of the highlights of Kinosaki is its seven public bathhouses. Soak in the mineral-rich waters of these traditional bathhouses, each with its own unique design and ambiance. The Yumepa pass allows you to experience all of them, giving you a taste of the diverse bathing styles Kinosaki has to offer.
  2. Walking Tours: Take a leisurely stroll through the streets of Kinosaki and discover its hidden gems. The picturesque canals, stone bridges, and traditional wooden buildings offer a charming setting as you explore the town. Don’t miss the beautiful willow trees lining the streets, adding to the serene atmosphere.
  3. Onsenji Temple: Located at the top of a flight of stone steps, Onsenji Temple is a sacred site in Kinosaki. Visit this historic temple, marvel at its architecture, and take in the panoramic views of the town below. The temple also houses a famous statue of the goddess Kannon, a symbol of compassion and mercy.
  4. Kinosaki Ropeway: For breathtaking views of Kinosaki from above, hop on the Kinosaki Ropeway. This cable car takes you up Mount Daishi, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the town, the Sea of Japan, and the surrounding mountains. The ropeway is particularly stunning during cherry blossom season and autumn foliage.
  5. Traditional Japanese Crafts: Kinosaki is a haven for traditional Japanese crafts. Visit local workshops and galleries to witness artisans practicing their craft. From pottery and lacquerware to weaving and woodwork, you can find unique and beautiful souvenirs to take home.
  6. Local Festivals: If your visit coincides with one of Kinosaki’s festivals, be sure to immerse yourself in the local celebration. The “Onsen Matsuri” in October and the “Snow Lantern Festival” in February are two popular events where you can experience traditional dances, parades, and stunning illuminated lantern displays.
  7. Nature Exploration: Surrounding Kinosaki are scenic mountains and lush green landscapes waiting to be explored. Take a hike along the trails, breathe in the fresh air, and enjoy the beauty of nature. The Nishiyama Park, situated near the top of the Kinosaki Ropeway, is a must-visit spot for its pristine beauty.

Remember to embrace the slower pace of life in Kinosaki, allowing yourself the time to relax, unwind, and fully immerse in the serene atmosphere. Whether you’re indulging in the hot springs, appreciating the craftsmanship of local artisans, or simply enjoying a leisurely walk through the town, exploring Kinosaki is a journey into the heart of traditional Japan.


Local Customs and Etiquette

When visiting Kinosaki, it is important to be mindful of the local customs and etiquette to show respect for the town’s rich traditions and culture. Here are some key customs and etiquette practices to keep in mind:

  1. Bathing Etiquette: When visiting the public bathhouses in Kinosaki, it is important to follow proper bathing etiquette. Before entering the baths, ensure that you wash your body thoroughly in the designated washing area. It is also customary to bring a small towel with you to cover your modesty while walking between the bathhouse and the changing area.
  2. Footwear: In Kinosaki, it is customary to remove your shoes before entering homes, ryokans, and some shops. Look out for shoe racks or entrance areas where you should leave your shoes and switch to slippers provided for indoor use.
  3. Greeting: When meeting locals or staff members, it is polite to offer a courteous greeting. A simple bow accompanied by a friendly “Kon’nichiwa” (hello) is the customary way to greet others in Japan.
  4. Respect for Others: Japanese culture places great importance on respect for others. Be mindful of your actions and avoid causing disturbances or speaking loudly in public places. It is also customary to be polite and considerate towards others, including following queuing etiquette and refraining from smoking in non-designated areas.
  5. Table Manners: When dining in Kinosaki, observe proper table manners. It is customary to say “Itadakimasu” before starting your meal and “Gochisousama” after finishing to express gratitude. Remember to use chopsticks appropriately and avoid passing food directly from your chopsticks to another person’s chopsticks.
  6. Gift Giving: If invited to a local’s home or staying in a ryokan, it is customary to bring a small gift as a token of appreciation. Traditional Japanese snacks or small souvenirs from your hometown are thoughtful choices. When presenting the gift, use both hands to offer it with a bow.
  7. Temple and Shrine Etiquette: When visiting temples and shrines in Kinosaki, respect the sacredness of these places. Refrain from talking loudly, taking photographs without permission, or touching any artifacts or structures unless allowed. It is customary to bow slightly upon entering and leaving these places as a sign of respect.

By embracing and practicing these local customs and etiquette, you will not only show respect for Kinosaki’s traditions but also foster meaningful connections with the locals. Remember, being a responsible and respectful traveler enhances the overall experience for both yourself and the community you visit.


Popular Onsens in Kinosaki

Kinosaki is renowned for its array of hot springs, each with its own unique charm and atmosphere. Here are some of the popular onsens in Kinosaki that you should explore during your visit:

  1. Goshono-yu: Goshono-yu is one of the most iconic public bathhouses in Kinosaki. Its rustic thatched roof and traditional design transport visitors back in time. The bathhouse is known for its healing waters and serene atmosphere, making it a favorite among locals and visitors alike.
  2. Ichino-yu: Ichino-yu is a picturesque public bathhouse with a beautiful Japanese garden. Its elegant wooden design and relaxing ambiance create the perfect setting for a rejuvenating soak. The outdoor bath allows you to bathe under the open sky, adding to the enchantment.
  3. Mandara-yu: Mandara-yu is a smaller sotoyu known for its quaint charm. It offers a traditional indoor wooden bath as well as an open-air bath surrounded by lush greenery. The intimate atmosphere and intimate setting make it a popular choice for those seeking a more private experience.
  4. Kouno-yu: Kouno-yu is a historic bathhouse that exudes a sense of nostalgia. The interior showcases traditional Japanese design elements, including beautiful artwork and wooden furnishings. Its thermal waters, said to have healing properties, provide a soothing and therapeutic experience.
  5. Jizou-yu: Jizou-yu is a smaller public bathhouse with a cozy and intimate ambiance. The highlight of this bathhouse is its unique rock bath, where you can immerse yourself in natural hot spring waters while surrounded by rocks and stones. It offers a tranquil atmosphere for relaxation.
  6. Satono-yu: Satono-yu is a more modern public bathhouse catering to a variety of preferences. It features a large indoor bath, outdoor bath, saunas, and even a foot bath. This spacious facility provides a comfortable and diverse bathing experience for visitors.

In addition to these public bathhouses, many ryokans in Kinosaki also offer private onsens for their guests. These intimate baths allow for a more secluded and personalized experience, often with stunning views of the surrounding nature.


When deciding which onsen to visit, consider your preferences for atmosphere, size, and facilities. Whether you choose a traditional public bathhouse or indulge in a private onsen, each experience in Kinosaki will leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.


Dining and Cuisine in Kinosaki

Exploring the culinary delights of Kinosaki is an essential part of your visit to this charming town. From traditional Japanese cuisine to local specialties, here’s a taste of what to expect and where to indulge your taste buds:


Kaiseki Ryori: Kinosaki is renowned for its kaiseki ryori, a multi-course traditional Japanese meal that showcases the season’s freshest ingredients. Prepared with meticulous care and artistry, kaiseki ryori offers a feast for the senses. Look out for ryokans and restaurants that specialize in this exquisite dining experience.


Crab Cuisine: Kinosaki is famous for its succulent and flavorful crabs, particularly the Tajima-gani, considered a local delicacy. During the winter months, when the crabs are in season, you can savor various crab dishes, such as steamed crab, grilled crab, or crab hot pot. Many restaurants in Kinosaki offer special crab menus to tantalize your taste buds.


Onsen-tamago and Onsen Manju: Onsen-tamago, or hot spring eggs, are a must-try in Kinosaki. These eggs are slow-cooked in the hot springs, resulting in a unique and delicious flavor. You can find them in some of the ryokans and specialty shops in town. Additionally, don’t miss the opportunity to sample Onsen Manju, steamed buns with various fillings, such as red bean paste or local flavors like crab or scallop.


Local Seafood: Being located on the northern coast of Japan, Kinosaki offers an abundance of fresh seafood. From sashimi to grilled fish, you can indulge in a variety of local catches from the Sea of Japan. Many of the town’s restaurants and seafood markets offer an array of seafood options for you to savor.


Sake Tasting: Pair your meals in Kinosaki with a taste of local sake. The region is known for its sake production, and you can find a selection of breweries in and around the town. Take a sake tasting tour to learn about the brewing process and sample different types of sake, including the famous Tajima-grown sake.


Local Snacks and Souvenirs: As you wander through the streets of Kinosaki, be sure to try some of the local snacks and treats. From freshly made mochi to traditional Japanese sweets, you can satisfy your sweet tooth with a range of delectable offerings. Don’t forget to pick up some souvenirs, such as local teas, pickles, or other edible delights.


With its rich culinary traditions and focus on fresh, local ingredients, Kinosaki offers a delightful gastronomic experience. Whether you’re a food enthusiast or just looking to explore new flavors, the dining scene in Kinosaki is sure to leave a lasting impression.


Nearby Attractions

While Kinosaki itself offers a wealth of attractions, there are also several nearby destinations worth exploring during your visit. Here are some nearby attractions to consider:

  1. Toyooka City: Located just a short distance from Kinosaki, Toyooka City is a charming city with its own array of attractions. Visit the Kinosaki Marine World to marvel at various marine creatures, including dolphins and sea lions. Explore the picturesque Takeda Castle ruins, often referred to as the “Machu Picchu of Japan,” which offers stunning panoramic views. Don’t forget to try Toyooka’s local delicacy, “Yumepa Sushi,” made with fresh seafood.
  2. Izushi: Situated approximately 25 kilometers from Kinosaki, Izushi is a historic town known for its preserved Edo period atmosphere. Take a stroll through the traditional streets lined with old samurai residences and merchant houses. Visit Izushi Castle, known for its stunning hilltop location and beautiful cherry blossoms in the spring. Make sure to try Izushi’s specialty dish, “Izushi Soba,” a unique style of buckwheat noodles served with various toppings.
  3. Tajima Region: The Tajima region, where Kinosaki is located, offers a picturesque countryside and scenic landscapes. Explore the rural beauty by visiting the charming coastal town of Takeno or take a leisurely drive through the Tajima Highland and enjoy the breathtaking views. You can also venture further into the region to explore the stunningly beautiful and secluded Kami no Kodo hiking trail.
  4. Amanohashidate: Amanohashidate, known as one of Japan’s three scenic views, is an approximately one-hour train ride from Kinosaki. This natural sandbar, stretching across the mouth of Miyazu Bay, offers a truly awe-inspiring sight. Take a relaxing walk or cycle across the sandbar while marveling at the stunning views of the pine trees and the azure sea.
  5. Kasumi Coast: Kasumi Coast, located to the west of Kinosaki, is known for its rugged beauty and dramatic cliffs. Take a scenic drive along the coast, stopping at viewpoints to soak in the majestic scenery. With crashing waves, impressive rock formations, and panoramic vistas, Kasumi Coast is a must-visit for nature lovers.

These nearby attractions offer a wonderful opportunity to explore the diverse beauty and cultural heritage of the surrounding areas. Whether you’re seeking historical sites, natural wonders, or gastronomic delights, these destinations near Kinosaki will add depth to your overall experience in the region.


Tips for an Enjoyable Visit

To make the most of your visit to Kinosaki, here are some valuable tips to ensure a memorable and enjoyable experience:

  1. Plan Your Visit: Before arriving in Kinosaki, it’s helpful to plan your itinerary and make reservations in advance, especially during peak seasons. This will ensure that you can secure your preferred accommodations, dining experiences, and activities.
  2. Try a Yukata: Many accommodations in Kinosaki provide guests with yukatas, lightweight cotton robes, during their stay. Embrace the local tradition by wearing a yukata while exploring the town. It adds to the cultural experience and provides a unique and comfortable way to immerse yourself in the atmosphere.
  3. Consider a Multi-day Pass: If you plan to visit multiple public bathhouses in Kinosaki, consider purchasing a Yumepa pass. This pass grants unlimited access to all the sotoyu, allowing you to enjoy various bathing experiences at a discounted price.
  4. Respect Onsen Etiquette: Familiarize yourself with the etiquette and customs of bathing in onsens. Remember to wash thoroughly before entering the bath, keep voices low, and refrain from taking towels into the bathing area. Respect the tranquility of these spaces for the enjoyment of all visitors.
  5. Try Local Cuisine: Indulge in the local cuisine of Kinosaki, particularly the fresh seafood and seasonal specialties. Don’t miss the opportunity to taste Tajima-gani (snow crabs) and other regional delicacies. Explore local restaurants and traditional ryokans to savor the flavors of Kinosaki.
  6. Experience the Festivals: If your visit coincides with one of Kinosaki’s festivals, such as the Onsen Matsuri or the Snow Lantern Festival, be sure to immerse yourself in the festivities. Participate in traditional dances, witness parades, and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of these cultural celebrations.
  7. Be Mindful of Cultural Customs: Show respect for local customs and etiquette by observing proper behavior. Be mindful of noise levels, remove your shoes when required, and follow the guidance of locals. Being considerate and polite will enhance your interactions with the community and make your visit more enjoyable.
  8. Explore Beyond Kinosaki: Take the time to venture beyond Kinosaki and explore the nearby attractions. Visit Toyooka City, Izushi, or the stunning Amanohashidate for a diverse range of experiences and sights.
  9. Immerse in Nature: Kinosaki is surrounded by beautiful natural landscapes. Take advantage of the hiking trails, coastal areas, and scenic spots to connect with nature. Enjoy breathtaking views, serene walks, and the therapeutic benefits of immersing yourself in the natural surroundings.
  10. Interact with Locals: Engaging with the locals can greatly enhance your experience in Kinosaki. Don’t hesitate to strike up conversations, ask for recommendations, or participate in local activities. The warm hospitality of the locals will enrich your journey and create lasting memories.

By following these tips, you’ll be well-prepared to make the most of your visit to Kinosaki. Embrace the cultural customs, indulge in the local cuisine, and immerse yourself in the beauty and tranquility of this charming town.



Kinosaki Onsens is a captivating destination that offers a unique and authentic experience of Japanese culture, tradition, and relaxation. From its picturesque streets and historic bathhouses to its therapeutic hot springs and exquisite cuisine, Kinosaki has something to delight every traveler. Whether you seek a peaceful retreat, a cultural adventure, or a rejuvenating getaway, this enchanting town has it all.


Immerse yourself in the healing waters of the public bathhouses, where the centuries-old traditions of onsen culture come to life. Explore the charming streets lined with traditional architecture, and participate in local festivals to truly engage with the spirit of Kinosaki. Indulge your taste buds with the exquisite kaiseki ryori, savor the local delicacy of Tajima-gani, and sample the regional sake for a culinary journey through the flavors of Kinosaki.


Beyond the town itself, nearby attractions such as Toyooka City and Amanohashidate offer additional experiences to enrich your visit. Take in the stunning coastal views, explore historical sites, or simply enjoy the natural beauty of the surrounding countryside.


To truly appreciate Kinosaki, it is important to embrace the local customs and etiquette, and to interact with the friendly locals. Respect for the traditions, tranquility, and cultural practices of the town will enhance your experience and create lasting memories.


Whether you visit in the vibrant hues of autumn, the serene snow-covered winter, the blossoming spring, or the lush greenery of summer, Kinosaki Onsens will captivate and rejuvenate your senses. So, step into this magical town, let the hot springs wash away your worries, and allow yourself to be swept away by the charm and beauty that Kinosaki has to offer.