A Visit to Kinosaki Onsen
12-14 April 2021, we went for 3 days in Kinosaki Onsen, a small village in the north of Hyogo prefecture near the Japan sea, and we stayed at Nishimuraya Honkan.
Here is Kinosaki Onsen train station with the hotel shuttle bus that brings guests for free to the hotel or ryokan. It is managed by the hotel/ryokan association, they also have a tourist center for information.
Kinosaki Onsen is a popular mountain resort area, there are many onsen (bath houses with natural mineral hot spring water) and each one has its own wooden shoes style.
We booked for 2 nights at Nishimuraya Honkan, including breakfast and dinner as we could have them served in our room.
Nishimuraya Honkan is a traditional Japanese ryokan with 160 years of history. It looks old from outside but it is very well maintained inside.
Service was excellent and attention to every of our wishes was met with promptitude and kindness. They even told us things that we were not aware of, like upon check-out, they bring our luggage at the tourist center located just in front of the train station, so that we can walk or stay in town with no luggage until we take the train. Same with the umbrellas, as it was raining on our departure date, we could take them and just leave them at the tourist center before taking the train.
In a ryokan, the rooms are Japanese style. Beds (futons) are brought in only after dinner and they are taken away before breakfast. There was as well 2 sitting chairs near the window door giving access and view to a lovely Japanese garden. Towels, socks and roomwear, all Japanese style (yucata and haori), are provided and changed daily.
Upon arrival, we were served macha tea with some sweets. Delicious. Before leaving, we even bought 2 boxes of these sweets (like the one half eaten before taking the photo) at the hotel shop.
We enjoyed also going out in the Japanese garden and looking at the birds from the window. It is located at the center of the hotel and all the rooms have an exit and a sitting area over it. The photos speak for themselves. It was gorgeous, especially when the sun was shining.
Every night someone comes to prepare the bed (futons) and every morning before breakfast the beds are taken away to put the room back with the central low table.
We enjoyed the private service for breakfast and dinner (abundant) provided by a young Japanese woman (Natsumi-san). She was very friendly and spoke good English. We had a good time with her and we could share many things as we would do with friends.
Natsumi-san also recommended us to go to a near-by village, Takeno, which has a famous beach. We went there with a local old train. On that day there was a really strong wind, we could hardly stay on the beach, the sand was flying away in the air. We managed to stroll along the beach and take some photos. It must be gorgeous on a nice sunny day. It looked like a tropical beach with turquoise clear water.
While staying at the ryokan, every day, morning and evening, we went several times to the onsen hotel bath. Each time there was nobody else or very few people in the men or women bath so we really enjoyed the space in the outdoor or indoor pool. These baths, one for women and one for men (people use the bath naked), are so relaxing and provide even some health benefits for the body. In both, there is a large indoor and outdoor bath. There is a washing area with towels, soap, shampoo and conditioner. In the changing room toilet supplies are provided, as well as water to drink. There is a resting area near the entrance to have tea and other drinks while waiting for your friend.
Due to the coronavirus time there was very few tourists and international guests in the hotel and in the village shops, day and night. We enjoyed nevertheless to walk around the village, it was still chilly and sometimes raining but we were well prepared.
On the first day, in the afternoon, we took the Kinosaki ropeway, it is a closed lift/cabin (funicular) that bring people up the mountain. On the top, there is a spectacular view of the ocean and the village.
It is also possible to walk down instead of riding the lift/cabin again.
View of Kinosaki-onsen from the top of the hill.
How to get there.
It takes about 2.5 hours by limited express train from Kyoto, or just under 3 hours by limited express train from Osaka to reach Kinosaki Onsen.
© PHOTOS BY JC DUMONT (except photos from the hotel bath, taken from their website)