Bucket List: Top 5 Things to do in Kinosaki Onsen

Onsenji Temple

If you’re looking on where to start when visiting Kinosaki Onsen, we recommend these 5 quintessential experiences and activities!

1. Go onsen-hopping

Onsen Hopping in Kinosaki Japan
Onsen Hopping in Kinosaki Japan

If you’re visiting Kinosaki Onsen, the quintessential activity to do is to go onsen-hopping. The town has seven public onsen or hot spring bathhouses, each with its own distinct charms and features. Guests who stay in a traditional Japanese inn receive a pass to all seven, which are within walking distance of one another. Thus, during their stay, these guests can visit as many bathhouses as they want. Visitors can enjoy strolling through town, taking pictures alongside the willow-lined canal, and basking in the area’s peaceful atmosphere while onsen-hopping. Additionally, the first male and female guests of the day to any of the 7 bathhouses will receive a custom wooden plaque with the name of the bathhouse and the date of entry.

2. Sport a yukata and geta

Japanese Yukata
Japanese Yukata

The majority of visitors to Kinosaki Onsen, regardless of gender or age, get dressed in yukata and geta to stroll through town. A yukata is a cotton summer kimono, originally worn as bathrobes but now worn for various events and activities, including onsen-hopping. Geta are a form of traditional Japanese footwear resembling flip-flops. These shoes, often wooden, add a click-clacking sound to the streets of Kinosaki, adding to the nostalgic atmosphere.

Most inns in town will provide you with a yukata and geta upon arrival to use during your stay. Those looking for a wider selection of yukata to choose from can hop on over to IROHA Yukata Shop & Rental. If you do not know how to put on a yukata, have no fear! Accommodation or rental shop staff can help you put it on. There are also directions here if you’d like to try them for yourself.

3. Ride the Kinosaki Ropeway

Kinosaki Ropeway
Kinosaki Ropeway
Onsenji Temple
Onsenji Temple

In the back of town, visitors can ride a ropeway up to the middle and the top of Mt. Daishi for some great views. Halfway up the mountain is Onsenji Temple, an ancient temple built in 738 AD that used to be a pilgrimage site for those looking to visit the onsen. There they would pray to the hot spring’s guardian for a blessing to be healed by the waters before entering the sacred hot springs, a ritual that was followed until the Edo period.

At the top of the ropeway and mountain stands a cozy cafe where visitors can relax and enjoy a drink and a bite while taking in a beautiful view of the entire town. The view from the top of the Kinosaki Ropeway was awarded one star in the Michelin Green Guide Japan! For those more time outdoors, you can opt to go part of the way by hiking up Mt. Daishi.

4. Experience a traditional Japanese inn (ryokan)

Set Japanese meal in Kinosaki
Set Japanese meal in Kinosaki

A traditional hot spring town visit is incomplete without a stay in a traditional Japanese inn or ryokan. Ryokan is a way to experience pure Japanese tradition, lifestyle, and hospitality, the last of which is especially valued by many Japanese people. Over 74 ryokans in Kinosaki Onsen, ranging in size and price, making it easy to find one to fit your needs and budget. The traditional ryokan rooms typically have tatami-mat flooring, a low table and floor cushions for seating, and a futon for sleeping. One’s stay typically comes with a Japanese-style banquet for dinner and a set Japanese meal for breakfast. For dinner, many Kinosaki ryokan takes full advantage of local ingredients, with snow crab in winter and Tajima beef (a delicious and high-quality beef) all year round. Although most ryokan has Japanese-style rooms and bedding, Western rooms and bedding are available at select locations.

5. Learn about a local traditional craft and try it for yourself

Straw craft, called mugiwara zaiku in Japanese, is a unique, traditional handicraft with vibrant colors and intricate patterns. Originating in Kinosaki Onsen, this straw craft is produced only by a few Kinosaki craftsmen in all of Japan. Visit the Straw Craft Museum and Kamiya Mingei Shop to learn about its history and try making it yourself. At the museum, you can drop it at any time and decorate a small fan or postcard with precut straw pieces.

In the Kamiya Mingei Shop, you can observe the straw craft process, get a private tour of the craftsman’s workshop, and make your own original straw craft design on a small box to keep as a lovely souvenir! This is an activity that can be booked on this page.

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