Translated by Lester Somera
5 Recommended Onsen From Osaka Or Kyoto For A Day Trip!
If you come to Osaka or Kyoto, why not explore some onsen (hot spring) towns? Here are five spots you can check out in one day by bus or shinkansen from Osaka or Kyoto.
Written by Sawada Tomomi
Refresh Yourself at Elegant Onsen Towns
If you want to reinvigorate yourself after sightseeing in Kyoto and Osaka, we have good news. Osaka and Kyoto are surrounded by places where you can enjoy onsens, nature and delicious food. Let’s look at popular onsen towns that you can easily visit from Osaka and Kyoto by Shinkansen or bus.
1. Kinosaki Onsen and Its Long History (Hyogo)
Kinosaki Onsen has more than 1300 years of history, and is located in Toyooka City in Hyogo. The Otani River runs through this onsen town, and its banks are lined with willow trees and old wooden buildings, giving it a very elegant air. We recommend that you spend your time at Kinosaki Onsen in a yukata and geta, and you will often see tourists in yukata walking around town. You can enjoy various onsens as you go sightseeing in traditional Japanese garb.
The JR Limited Express is the fastest way to get to Kinosaki. Take the Konotori train from Shin-Osaka Station, bound for Kinosaki Onsen Station (two hours and 50 minutes, 5800 yen). The town is ten minutes’ walk from the station. You can also take the highway bus from Osaka Station or Shin-Osaka Station (up to three hours, starting at 3000 yen). If you’re OK with cramped quarters, it might be good to save money via the bus.
From Kyoto Station, take the JR Limited Express Kinosaki bound for Kinosaki Onsen Station (two hours and 30 minutes, 5040 yen). There are almost no buses linking Kyoto with Kinosaki Onsen, so if you want to take a bus to save money, head to Osaka to catch one there.
2. Arima Onsen, One of Japan’s Oldest (Hyogo)
A suburban hot spring resort in Kansai, Arima Onsen in Kobe, Hyogo is one of Japan’s three oldest hot springs. Its narrow, tangled hill roads, surrounded by nature views like Mt. Rokko, give it plenty of charm. Arima Onsen is 350-500 meters above sea level, in the Rokko mountain district. There are major inns and hotels in the onsen town, at the foot of the mountains, and among the mountains. You can also use Kin-no-Yu or Gin-no-Yu, outdoor springs, on day trips. Arima Onsen is comprised of springs containing an unusual amount of ingredients, such as carbonic springs, sulfur springs, chlorinated springs, iron springs and radium springs. They are said to help with rheumatism, muscle and joint pain, the chills, high blood pressure and more.
From Osaka Station, take the highway Arima Express bus and get off at Arima Onsen (one hour, 1370 yen). The bus stop is in the middle of Arima Onsen.
From Kyoto Station, take the highway Arima Express Kyoto bus and get off at Arima Station (one hour and 15 minutes, 1800 yen). You can also take the Hankyu or the Keihan bus, which cost the same and take the same amount of time, so look at the timetables and choose the one that is best for your schedule.
Enjoying Arima Onsen
How about enjoying some traditional parlor entertainment at Arima? The area’s geiko perform dances that are appropriate for that season. The geiko cafe Ito has days once or twice a month where you can see them dance for the price of a drink. We recommend this cafe because you can easily check out geiko dancing here.
3. Beautiful Shirahama Onsen, Surrounded by the Sea (Wakayama)
Photos courtesy of: Shirahama Tourism Association
Located in the Nishimuro district in Wakayama, Shirahama Onsen is said to be one of Japan’s three greatest hot springs along with Atami and Beppu. It has a very long history, as it is mentioned in Japan’s oldest songbook and oldest historical text. Set against the contrast of the emerald sea and white sand beach, and with many lodging establishments nearby, it is a leading Kansai tourist destination. There are carbonic, chlorine and sulfuric springs at Shirahama Onsen, and the water is said to be good for nerve pain, chills, skin diseases, diabetes and other illnesses. Even today, Shirahama Onsen boasts many directly sourced springs and an abundance of water.
From Shin-Osaka Station, take the JR Limited Express Kuroshio train bound for Shingu, and get off at Shirahama Station (two hours and 15 minutes, 5080 yen). If you want to save money, take a highway Meiko bus from Osaka Station (three hours and 30 minutes, 2980 yen).
The highway bus is best when coming from Kyoto! Take the Meiko bus from Kyoto Station, which stops at every location in Shirahama, and get off at your destination (four hours, 3400 yen). There are very few buses (only two a day), so be careful.
Enjoying Shirahama Onsen
Photos courtesy of: Shirahama Tourism Association
Shirahama Onsen faces out onto the sea, so you can have a soak while you look out at the ocean. The setting sun over the sea is beautiful and spiritually soothing. Nanki-Shirahama has been long-known for its picturesque scenery, including white sandy beaches and precipitous cliffs.
4. The High-Class Wakura Onsen (Ishikawa)
Wakura Onsen is located in Nanao in Ishikawa. It is said to have a history of more than 1200 years, and is a leading high-class onsen town. In addition to the hot springs, you can see the famous Buddhist temples around the town, enjoy fresh fish caught from Nanao Harbor and the neighboring Tomiyama Harbor, and other things that let you experience the true charm of touring Japan. Wakura Onsen’s water has sodium and calcium, and is said to be good for rheumatism and nerve pain. Wakura Onsen faces the sea, and its water has a characteristic high salt content that is characteristic of an ocean onsen.
From Osaka Station, take the JR Limited Express Thunderbird bound for Wakura Onsen, and get off at Wakura Onsen Station (four hours, 9400 yen).
Enjoying Wakura Onsen
It’s not an exaggeration to say that your meals at your travel destination shape your impression of the trip. Wakura Onsen has lots of delicious food. At Nanao Harbor and Tomiyama Harbor, yellowtail, Kano crab, rockfish, angler and other kinds of seafood can be caught in front of your eyes. Wakura Onsen is a trove of deliciousness, including rice, vegetables, local sake, Noto beef and more. That’s why Wakura Onsen has plenty of restaurants. Enjoy the taste of Noto to your heart’s content.
5. Relax with Ducks at Kutsurogi-no-Sato Yuraku (Osaka)
We’ve introduced onsen resorts outside of Kyoto and Osaka, but here we’ll introduce an unusual onsen in Osaka: Kutsurogi-no-Sato Yuraku in Suminoe, which uses natural spring waters sourced from within the grounds. You should try the Ahiru Yokocho Matsuri bath, a large vinyl tub with many yellow duck toys floating in it. In Japan, it’s typical for children to play with toys in the tub. Enjoy playing with them as though you’ve become a Japanese child. The water quality is said to be good for nerve pain, muscle pain, joint pain, stiff shoulders, muscle fatigue and more. Also, because there is a lot of water in the hot spring, fresh water is constantly flowing into the tub. Enjoy natural gushing springs in the outdoor bath.
From Osaka Station, walk to Nishi-Umeda Station (up to 10 minutes) and take the Yotsubashi subway line for Suminoe-Koen. Get off at Kitakagaya Station (20 minutes, 280 yen).
Stretch your legs and head out a short distance from Osaka and Kyoto, and you can go to wonderful onsen resorts. If you’re coming all the way to Japan, why not enjoy Japanese bath culture? It’s sure to have a great time.