KINOSAKI / TOYOOKA 1
Kinosaki, a small, elegant town, is a great place to walk around in yukata, or light cotton kimono, enjoying cherry blossoms in spring, green willows, fireflies and fireworks in summer, red and yellow leaves in autumn, and snow scenery in winter.
Visiting public bath facilities outside ryokan, so called sotoyu, is the one of the main attractions of Kinosaki. Enjoy strolling in town, dressed in yukata and accompanied by the clip-clop sound of geta (wooden clogs).
After checking in, put on yukata! If you don’t know how to wear yukata, feel free to ask the inn’s staff. Go out and enjoy strolling and shopping in the town. Cute straw craft works (mugiwara-zaiku) are a good souvenir of Kinosaki. The town is home to seven sotoyu and also dotted with numerous footbaths. “Yumepa” is a useful digital ticket to fully enjoy the town’s sotoyu. After soaking in a bath, a local-brew beer, ramune soda or soft-serve ice cream are sure to be nice.
*For more details of Yumepa, ask the inn’s staff.
Dinner at the inn. Delicious crabs, Tajima beef, and dishes using local vegetables and other ingredients…
Stroll in the town again in yukata. Walking is safe and secure even at night, another item on Kinosaki’s list of special charms. An area between Ichino-yu and Goshono-yu is full of amusement at night, including the retro feel of a traditional shooting gallery (shatekiba).
Bathe in the morning again, and check out. After shopping for a while in the town, visit surrounding sightseeing places, such as Genbudo Cave, Hyogo Park of the Oriental White Stork, Kinosaki Marine World (aquarium), and the quiet castle town Izushi.
Kinosaki in Summer
Located in the northern part of Hyogo Prefecture on the Sea of Japan, Kinosaki is a place rich in nature with the ocean and mountains. It has an about a 1,300-year history. Yunosato-dori is a bustling street with many tourists, lined with wooden ryokan inns and souvenir shops. Off this main street, Kiyamachi-dori is a quiet promenade and Kitayanagi-dori is a picturesque street with lovely willow trees. Kinosaki Onsen was awarded two stars in the “Michelin Green Guide Japon (French version)” published in February 2013, and also is introduced as “Best Onsen Town” in the English-language guidebook “Lonely Planet.”
There are seven sotoyu, named, respectively, Kouno-yu, Mandara-yu, Goshono-yu, Ichino-yu, Yanagi-yu, Jizou-yu, and Satono-yu. At most inns in Japan, guests are allowed to wear the ryokan’s yukata only inside the inn because such yukata are considered to be a kind of nightclothes. But in Kinosaki Onsen, it is different. With the hot spring town being seen as one large ryokan, walking around the town in yukata is a natural thing, one of the things that makes Kinosaki so relaxing and enjoyable.
You can wear original, relatively simple yukata of the inn where you stay, and, in addition, some inns prepare colorful, fashionable yukata for your choice. How to coordinate yukata and an obi belt? Thinking about this can be enjoyable! Go to sotoyu only with a small towel – it’s all you need. The public baths have regularly scheduled holidays, so check this out beforehand. The person who is first to enter each public house each day will be gifted an ichiban-fuda, or a first-visitor-card.
In Kinosaki, you can see fireflies from early to late June. Ennichi, a fair, is held from July 29 through August 31. Fireworks are launched on Saturdays and Sundays in summertime. Toro-nagashi, a ceremony in which participants float paper lanterns down a river, is held on August 21. Enjoy the traditional, nostalgic atmosphere.
Kinosaki is also famous for delicious foods. Tajima beef of Tajima cattle, famous as stock for world-renowned Kobe beef, is a superb, local delicacy. Wintertime from November to March is the season to enjoy eating matsuba crabs (a local name for snow crab) from the Sea of Japan. Their meat is unbelievably sweet and flavorful and the miso paste is so rich. Locally brewed sake is delicious as well.
Haneda Airport -> (Osaka) Itami Airport (1 hr) -> (Konotori) Tajima Airport (40 min) -> Kinosaki Onsen Sta. (30 min by taxi/bus)
By train (JR)
From Kyoto: 2 hr 30 min by limited express Kinosaki
From Osaka: 2 hr 45min by limited express Konotori
From Sannomiya: 2 hr 30 min by limited express Hamakaze
From Himeji: 2 hr by limited express Hamakaze
*Courtesy bus service (free of charge) by Ryokan-kumiai is available from JR Kinosaki Onsen Sta.
*The travel time is a guideline and may change depending on the situation.
Kinosaki Onsen Facebook
KINOSAKI INN CONCIERGE (in English)
The website on sightseeing and inns of Kinosaki, with fantastic photos of every season.
Kinosaki Onsen is now holding a “Miss Yukata Contest” to choose a woman who looks best in yukata in Japan. Please feel free to vote!