Kinosaki Onsen has been the setting for many novels, including Naoya Shiga’s “At Kinosaki. Located in Toyooka City in northern Hyogo Prefecture, Kinosaki Onsen boasts a long history of more than 1,300 years since its opening, and is still one of the most popular hot spring resorts in Japan, attracting many tourists from all over Japan, partly because it is conveniently located only about three hours one way from central Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, and other cities.
In this article, I have written about our trip to Kinosaki Onsen as a family of four with children. If you are considering a trip to Kinosaki Onsen, I hope you will find it useful as one of the model courses for a one-night stay in Kinosaki Onsen…
irst of all, let me introduce the access to Kinosaki Onsen. Which would you choose, the express train or a private car?
There are two main ways to get to Kinosaki Onsen from urban centers such as Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe: by express train and by private car.
How to get to Kinosaki Onsen by limited express train
From Osaka or Kobe, visitors can take the Hamakaze limited express train bound for Tottori to the nearest station, Kinosaki Onsen Station, without changing trains. The journey takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes to 3 hours from Osaka, and about 2 hours to 2.5 hours from Kobe. Another option is to move one stop from Osaka Station and take the limited express Kounotori from Shin-Osaka Station.
From Kyoto, you can take the limited express Kinosaki via Fukuchiyama to Kinosaki Onsen, the last stop, without changing trains. The journey from Kyoto to Kinosaki Onsen takes a little over two hours.
How to get to Kinosaki Onsen by private car
If you are driving your own car, it is convenient to take the Kita-Kinki Toyooka Expressway from Osaka or Kobe to the Tajima Airport Interchange (Note: The Kita-Kinki Toyooka Expressway is scheduled to be extended in the future). From the Tajima Airport IC to Kinosaki Onsen Hot Spring is about 25 minutes on Prefectural Route 3 going north. From the center of Osaka or Kobe, it takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes.
From Kyoto, you can take the Kyoto Jukan Expressway northward from the Kyotango Omiya Interchange to Toyooka via Route 312. It takes about 1 hour from the Kyotango Omiya IC to Kinosaki Onsen, and about 3 hours from the center of Kyoto City.
Hungry on the way to Kinosaki Onsen! Any recommendations for a cheap and tasty place to eat?
This time our family decided to go to Kinosaki Onsen by private car, but since it takes 3 hours one way from central Osaka to Kinosaki Onsen, if we take it easy in the morning, lunch time will arrive on the way and we will be scurrying around in the car looking for a restaurant…and so on. If it’s going to be like that, can we decide on a place to have lunch from the beginning?
This time, our family had lunch at Tankuma, a restaurant famous in the Kansai region for its tamago kake gohan (TKG). The signature tamago kake gohan set meal (priced from 500 yen including tax) is a delight for TKG lovers, as it allows unlimited use of fresh eggs delivered daily from a nearby poultry farm. Why not try this simple but authentic tamago kake gohan that you cannot experience at home? It is a restaurant worth stopping by even if you have to get off the expressway.
If you go all the way to Kinosaki Onsen, I recommend you visit a traditional onsen ryokan and enjoy the best service possible!
Kinosaki Onsen is a historic hot spring resort that has been in operation for 1,300 years. Recently, an increasing number of inns are offering overnight stay plans with no meal plan, but if you are planning to visit Kinosaki Onsen, I recommend staying overnight at a traditional Japanese-style inn where you will be treated with the best possible service.
This time, our family visited Kinosaki Onsen Kobayashiya, located almost in the center of Kinosaki Onsen district, diagonally across from Ichinoyu. It has a history of more than 300 years since its establishment, and in 2021, it underwent a major renovation by a designer to create a very comfortable facility that combines pure Japanese-style guest rooms and modern chic interior facilities.
We Japanese people feel at home when we lie on tatami mats, don’t we? Take a break with a cup of tea and refresh your energy for sightseeing in the area.
The best part of Kinosaki Onsen is visiting the out-spa baths.
One of the best parts of Kinosaki Onsen is visiting the out-spa baths. Kinosaki Onsen is home to seven different types of bathhouses, each with its own unique atmosphere, making “hashigo-yu” a highlight for tourists.
If you stay at a ryokan in the Kinosaki spa resort, you will receive a free pass that allows you unlimited access to the seven out-spa baths during the period of validity. If you call yourself a hot spring lover, why not try to conquer all the out-spa baths during your stay in Kinosaki?
Kinosaki Onsen 7 Outdoors Hot Springs
- 〜Hot spring for communication ~ Ekisha Onsen Sato no Yu
- 〜Hot water for family safety, offering of water children, and salvation of sentient beings ~ Jizo Yu
- 〜Hot water for safe childbirth and child bearing ~ Yanagi Yu
- 〜Pray for success in school, traffic safety, and good luck~ Ichi no Yu
- 〜Fire prevention, good marriage fulfillment, hot water of beauty ~ Gosho no Yu
- 〜Hot water for prosperous business, a good harvest, and a lifetime wish ~ Mandara no Yu
- 〜Hot water that brings marital bliss, longevity, and happiness – Koh no Yu
You should enjoy walking around Kinosaki Onsen until dinner. During the cherry blossom season in spring, you can also enjoy this special offer…
After enjoying the out-spa baths, how about walking around Kinosaki Onsen until dinner time at the inn? The main street of Kinosaki Onsen, “Yunosato Street,” is a great walking course that takes only about 20 minutes one way even if you walk slowly. While gazing at the willow trees along the river and the streets full of hot spring atmosphere, you can indulge in local delicacies, shop for souvenirs, and spend your time as you wish until it is time to eat dinner.
Incidentally, when our family visited Kinosaki Onsen, we were lucky enough to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom. In particular, the cherry blossoms along Kiyamachi-dori, which is off the main street from Ichinoyu and heads toward Mandara no Yu, are especially charming, and because there are not many people passing by, it is a good spot for taking pictures. At night, the cherry blossoms are lit up, creating a fantastic and indescribable atmosphere. I highly recommend that you visit Kinosaki Onsen during the cherry blossom season.
If you have come all the way to Kinosaki Onsen, enjoy a luxurious dinner at an onsen ryokan…
Kinosaki Onsen has restaurants and bars that are open at night, but if you have come all the way to the hot spring resort, why not have dinner at an onsen ryokan and enjoy the luxury of a traditional dinner?
This time our family was offered a total of seven kaiseki dishes at Kobayashiya, starting with the appetizer and ending with dessert. Not only did the adults enjoy the many dishes made with Tajima beef and other local high quality ingredients, but the children were able to devour all the dishes without disliking them because of their gentle and elegant flavors.
In addition to enjoying the superb kaiseki cuisine in a relaxing atmosphere as if you were at home, you can also take the time to look at, touch, and enjoy the tableware, which is also highly valued as a craftwork. This is the ultimate luxury that can only be experienced at an onsen ryokan. If you can spend such a luxurious time together as a family, there is no doubt that your family trip to Kinosaki Onsen will be a great success.
Morning at a Japanese hot spring resort begins with a morning bath! Enjoy Kinosaki Onsen’s famous hot spring water in a completely private indoor bath
Morning at a hot spring resort in Japan starts with a morning bath…cleansing your body in a hot spring early in the morning will help you start the day with a clean slate. If it is one of the best hot springs in Japan, such as Kinosaki Onsen, there is absolutely nothing to complain about in terms of conditions. If you have come all the way to a hot spring resort, it would really be a waste if you do not enjoy this supreme luxury of “soaking in a hot spring first thing in the morning”.
The Kinosaki Onsen Kobayashiya, which our family used this time, has three completely private indoor baths: “Wabi no Yu,” “Jaku no Yu,” and “Yugen no Yu. They can be used freely without reservations from 6:30 to 9:00 a.m., so you can relax and soak in the hot water as if it were your own bath at home. Of course, the water in the bathtub is exactly the same Kinosaki hot spring water as the outside baths. For onsen lovers, there is nothing more luxurious than having Japan’s famous hot spring all to themselves, don’t you think?
Check out of the inn and go sightseeing around Kinosaki Onsen…what are the recommended sightseeing spots?
After breakfast and checking out of the inn, let’s go sightseeing around Kinosaki Onsen. There are many sightseeing spots around Kinosaki Onsen, and the whole family can enjoy themselves until the evening.
Here are three of the best places to visit in the Kinosaki Onsen area that are relatively easy to get to from the hot spring resort area…
The Kinosaki Ropeway connects the foot station near the former Kinosaki Onsen hot spring to the summit of Mt. From the top of the 231-meter-high mountain, visitors can look down on a magnificent view of Kinosaki Onsen, which has been awarded a Michelin star, and the Sea of Japan.
The ropeway’s summit station is also home to the Kinosaki Coffee Miharashi Terrace Café, which serves home-roasted specialty coffee and offers an elegant café experience with a Michelin-certified view of the spectacular scenery. A park is also located around the cafe, and in spring, you can enjoy the perfect combination of cherry blossoms in full bloom, a spectacular view, and coffee….
Kinosaki Marine World
Kinosaki Marine World is an interactive aquarium located about 10 minutes by car from Kinosaki Onsen. Starting with live shows of dolphins and sea lions, backyard tours behind the scenes, feeding baby sea lions, catching and immediately eating horse mackerel, and many other events that you cannot experience at other aquariums, you can spend a whole day there without getting bored.
Buses are available from Kinosaki Onsen Station, so there is no need to bring your own car. Some hotels and inns offer free shuttle buses and discounted admission tickets, so you can enjoy Kinosaki Marine World at a reasonable price if you make full use of these services.
Genbudo Park is a nature-rich park with a total of five caves, including Genbudo Cave and Seiryu Cave, which are designated as national natural monuments. In addition to the beautiful patterns called “columnar joints,” the park has long been known as a power spot, and visitors can experience an interesting phenomenon: when a directional magnet is placed near a basalt rock, the magnet points in the opposite direction from north to south.