Kinosaki Onsen — 城崎温泉 — is a famous onsen located in Hyogo prefecture. It’s a town built entirely around the needs of its visitors, and it’s clear that traditional Japan has remained in this peaceful place. You can enjoy fresh crab or Tajima steak at a traditional Japanese inn known as ryokan (旅館), take a dip in one of their many hot springs, and stroll through the willow-lined streets. You may also see lots of people wearing yukata (浴衣), which are a traditional Japanese dress for men and women. They’re much lighter than kimono (着物) but just as beautiful and traditional!
I went in February 2018 with my boyfriend at the time. It was my second trip to an onsen, and my first official overnight stay with a private bath! I was so excited. The trip was only a short train ride away from where we lived, so it was easy to do a quick overnight trip!
When we arrived it was raining, and the rain was beginning to turn into snow, so we decided to get lunch and walk around for a little while since we had time before we needed to check in. It was so cold, and I was really tired as well (I think I hadn’t slept much the night before and our train left early).
After a hearty lunch, we stopped in a little shop selling gelato. It seemed ridiculous to get gelato with snow coating the ground, but it was delicious so I didn’t complain. 🤤 One of my favorite things about Japan delicious desserts!
After we got gelato it was time to check into our ryokan, so we braved the rain/snow and headed on over. It was ridiculously cold, but we were fairing fine. Mostly I was concerned about whether or not our outside private onsen would be enjoyable in such cold weather, but I tried not to worry too much. I was having so much fun!
I ended up falling asleep in our room, even though I did want to do more walking around. I just couldn’t stay away and it was so cold that we both agreed to wait around until dinnertime (which was only an hour or two anyway).
I did get frustrated at one point, though, because a lot of Japanese culture is just a part of Japanese people, and my boyfriend didn’t know how to explain onsen culture to me. There are sometimes strict bathing rules, and I was nervous about breaking them or offending someone in the female public bath. Luckily there wasn’t anyone else in there!
Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember the exact name of the ryokan that we stayed in, but after some research (and good memory when it comes to maps), I was able to find it! We stayed at Tsubaki Inn (つばきの旅館) and had a private bath, which meant that for a certain amount of time we had a hot spring bath all to ourselves! Though I don’t mind public baths, they’re separated by gender and so if you want to go with your significant other, it’s much better to do private baths for a more romantic and enjoyable evening.
This ryokan also served a delicious dinner of crab, and it was really fun learning how to properly eat crab. I’d never had it before! We ate it both raw and cooked, and there were various other dishes to eat as well. 🦀
Since my boyfriend paid for it I’m not sure how much the evening cost, but it was somewhere in the ¥50,000 ($500) range with all things included (room, private bath time, breakfast + dinner). Considering Japanese inns usually are more expensive than a regular hotel, this is fairly standard! If you can afford the expense then it’s worth it.
The next day, we did a bit more exploring in the morning after checking out since we had time before our train would depart. I took some beautiful pictures of the surrounding areas of Kinosaki that were a bit further away from the inns and pedestrian traffic. It was still a little gloomy and rainy. I loved this atmosphere!
There is a lot of old architecture in Kinosaki, and this is one of those examples. I think this is another (much more expensive) ryokan. We couldn’t go all the way inside, but I did take some more photos of the entrance!
There was a river running through the town so in order to cross you had to find these bridges, but there were plenty of them around. I assume the trees bloom beautifully in the spring, but we visited during the tail-end of winter. Still — the rain added so much beautiful atmosphere.
This is a better photo of the river as it flows through the time, and this area is more local-friendly with various homes and businesses lining the road. I couldn’t take enough photos; Kinosaki is so photogenic, especially on a rainy day.
I absolutely loved this bridge. The sakura detailing on the railing was gorgeous, and I couldn’t take enough pictures at enough angles. I wish I’d taken more photos, but I was so absorbed in, well, absorbing! I just wanted to see as much as possible, and I still remember so much of it vividly.
Though I wish I’d taken more photos of the ryokan and our delicious crab dinner, I’m glad I took photos of the area around Kinosaki because it’s a gorgeous place. I’d love to go again and stay in another ryokan! It was a great experience, and I’m so grateful my boyfriend paid for everything so I could have this experience. ♨️
If you’re planning to go to Japan someday, I highly recommend staying at a ryokan or just visiting an onsen. They’re relaxing and the experience is so unique to Japan and Japanese culture!0