Let's begin at your ryokan
Make your way through Kinosaki Onsen, a traditional-style onsen (hot spring) town where you can experience the atmosphere of a genuine onsen community. Your final destination will be your ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn. As you walk through Kinosaki, take note that the town is seen as one large ryokan. The station acts like the entrance to one big traditional Japanese inn, or ryokan, where the streets become the hallways, the many nearby inns become the rooms, and the onsen become the baths. The first step to beginning your night is to check in to one of over 70 ryokan in town.
From here we suggest getting dressed into a yukata, a type of casual kimono, before you head out to explore the town and experience the joy of the Japanese hot springs. Did you know that Kinosaki Onsen has 7 of them?
Staying in a ryokan is a must when staying in Kinosaki
One major highlight of visiting Kinosaki Onsen is staying in a traditional Japanese inn or ryokan. Kinosaki Onsen is home to some of the most highly esteemed ryokan in the country, including one dating back more than 1,000 years. Many renowned writers who have passed through Kinosaki have stayed at one of these inns, drawn by their appreciation for their distinctive hospitality and comforts.
Ryokan rooms are simple, understated, and elegant; with tatami-mat flooring, futon bedding directly on the tatami floor, and floor cushions (zabuton) for seating. Details like seasonal flowers or other objects relating to the current season can be found in each room.
Ryokan in Kinosaki also provide yukata (casual kimono) and geta clogs for guests to wear during their stay and while public bath-hopping.
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Change into your yukata before heading out
Each ryokan provides its guests with its own style of yukata. These yukata were basically made for onsen; and most visitors to Kinosaki wear them around town, making the town even more ambient. The yukata make a wonderful addition to the town's charming atmosphere. Along with the yukata, another piece of the town's atmosphere is the clatter of geta (wooden clogs) as locals and visitors alike make their way down the streets. Even visitors who are only in town for the day can stroll through the town in yukata by visiting IROHA, a yukata rental shop in town. You can rent an entire set including geta, and staff will help you put it on.
The best and most traditional way to see the town is in a yukata. They are either provided by your ryokan or can be rented for the day from IROHA yukata rental shop.
Enjoy the sights and sounds of the yukata and geta. At night, when all ryokan the guests are out and about, you will feel as though you have slipped back in time to old Japan. Even though the yukata is a light, summery version of a kimono, it can still be worn all year round. Just simply layer on the appropriate overcoats provided by your ryokan during the cooler autumn and spring nights or chilly winter nights.
Strolling through town, visiting shops, eating at restaurants, riding the ropeway, and visiting the bathhouses all while wearing your yukata is completely normal here.
Explore the town and onsen bathhouses
in your yukata before dinner.
Time to walk down the "halls" of the town and enjoy the night air on your way to any or all of the town's 7 public hot spring bathhouses.
Enjoying the various onsen (hot springs) around Kinosaki is about more than simply taking a bath. The soto-yu (public bathhouses) are deeply ingrained in the town’s daily life as local inhabitants tend to use them frequently, and are one of the main reasons to visit this onsen town. The waters are said to help relieve symptoms such as muscle pain, poor digestion, and fatigue. The best way to experience Kinosaki's bathhouses is to stroll through town in your yukata and geta, while onsen-hopping your way through the town's seven public hot springs.
Kinosaki Onsen has 7 hot spring bathhouses, all centrally located and within walking distance of each other.
If it is your first onsen experience, it is good to note that Kinosaki's public bathwater is around 42℃. Since that may be too hot for some first-timers, it is best to stay in the water for just a short period (up to five minutes) at each public onsen rather than spending a longer time at a single venue. That way you can experience each bathhouse and its unique features. Some of the hottest waters can be found in Yanagi-yu.
Each bathhouse has its own unique style. Four have bathing areas outside, one has a cave bath, and another has a bath with a view of the nearby Maruyama River.
The majority of ryokans in Kinosaki provide you with an unlimited-use pass to the onsen during your stay. Day-trippers can also purchase a similar pass (unlimited-use, good for one day) from any one of the onsen.
A good thing to know is that when you stay at a ryokan, they provide you with an onsen pass that gives you unlimited access to all 7 public bathhouses during your stay. The pass is good from the time you check in until you check out.
Day-trippers may also enter any of the bathhouses and can purchase a day pass to try all seven. Many of the bathhouses open as early as 7 A.M. and stay open until 11 P.M.
After a nice, hot soak, cool down
with a cool pre-dinner treat.
Between dips in the onsen, a variety of sweets and street snacks will enhance your experience. You will find several cafes and shops selling soft-serve ice cream and gelato year-round, as well as shaved ice in the summertime. There are also local confectioneries that sell handmade Japanese sweets if you want something a little more local.
Kinosaki Onsen also has its own distinct beer, four types to be exact. These are another refreshing way to cool off after a nice hot bath.
Dinner is Served
Head back to your ryokan for a kaiseki dinner, a delicious cultural experience
Including a kaiseki dinner in your ryokan stay is highly recommended
An evening meal served at a ryokan is kaiseki, a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner. These are usually included in your ryokan stay, which is why the average ryokan price may seem a little steep. Kaiseki is an elegant cuisine focused on emphasizing seasonal ingredients and subtle flavors. The ingredients used in kaiseki are brought in from the surrounding land as well as the sea. Kinosaki is situated close to both the sea and mountains, so you are guaranteed the best and freshest ingredients. Each dish is described as it is served, allowing diners a full appreciation of technical intricacies and flavor nuances.
But the night is not over yet…
...there are new places to explore after dinner
Retro-style arcades open up for after-dinner entertainment and are bustling hot spots
Local "snack" bars are a great place to sing karaoke, drink, chat, and make new friends
Time to say good night...
...or if one night is not enough, it's time to book another night
If you worked up a sweat singing karaoke at the snack bars, you might still have time to swing by the onsen one last time for another bath, as some of the onsen are open until 11:00 pm.
If not, and you are still craving more...