Translated by Lester Somera
Arima Onsen Day Trip - Top 3 Recommended Hot Springs
Written by Kousuke DEKI
Arima Onsen is a historic hot spring town is filled with amazing onsen. We introduce three of Arima Onsen's best hot springs you can enjoy even if you are just on a day trip, from those with golden waters to centuries-old baths. Come here for a relaxing time experiencing Japan's bathing culture.
Arima Onsen - Spend the Day in a Historic Hot Spring Town
Arima Onsen is one of the leading hot spring resorts in the Kansai area. By highway bus, it is just an hour away from Osaka and 75 minutes away from Kyoto. It is very conveniently situated and the town itself has an elegant, historic charm.
Arima Onsen’s Golden Springs
You can find various kinds of hot springs in Arima Onsen but we highly recommend the golden hot spring, also known as kinsen. It gets its name from its reddish-gold water. While the water that runs from its source is clear, its high iron content causes it to change color when it comes in contact with oxygen. The water is also said to have one of the highest salt concentrations in the world. Its effective heat retention and antibacterial properties are believed to help with hypersensitivity due to cold and muscle pain.
Arima Onsen has many hot spring facilities, but we’ll introduce you to three in particular that you can easily enjoy on a day trip! For more general information, check out our onsen etiquette guide.
Table of Contents:
- 1.Kin no Yu - An Iconic Arima Onsen Hot Spring
- 2.Enjoy Water Straight from the Source at Kanpo no Yado Arima
- 3.A Different World at Arima Onsen’s Most Ancient Spring, Goshoboh
1. Kin no Yu - An Iconic Arima Onsen Hot Spring
First, let’s check out Kin no Yu, which is often called one of Arima Onsen’s landmarks. Located close to the resort town entrance, it is visible to everyone who enters Arima Onsen. Kin no Yu is open to the public, so anyone can enter. This makes it a very popular onsen for visitors, including people on day trips.
Picture courtesy of Kin no Yu
This is the Kin no Yu bathhouse.
Let us explain the process from entering the bathhouse until getting into the water. After you go through the entrance, put your shoes in a locker. Take the key with you and enter.
Next, you buy a ticket at the vending machine (all prices are plus tax). The displays are also available in English, Korean and Chinese (traditional and simplified). Admission is 650 yen for adults and 340 yen for elementary school students. You can also buy a combined pass for Kin no Yu’s sister spring, Gin no Yu, for 850 yen. A ticket at Gin no Yu is 550 yen, so you save 350 yen if you are planning to go there anyway.
Once you’ve bought your ticket, give it to the person at the reception desk. The bathing area is on the 2nd floor.
If you don't have a towel, you can buy towels with the Kin no Yu logo. A large towel is 500 yen and a face towel is 200 yen.
There are informational pamphlets available in English, Korean and Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), so please use them as a reference.
The changing area is also on the 2nd floor. After you get undressed, take your towel with you into the bathing area. After you placed your belongings in the locker, don’t forget your key! It has a rubber strap, so you can wrap it around your wrist in order not to lose it.
Now you can enjoy the golden waters! Take a shower and use body soap to get rid of any dirt, then you can enter the onsen. The color may stain your clothes and towel, so we recommend taking another shower before getting changed.
Head to this rest area if you want to take a break after you get out of the onsen. It’s in front of the reception desk on the first floor. You can buy a drink at the vending machines or at the reception which sells Arima local beer, carbonated beverages, and cider.
Kin no Yu also has a foot bath located next door, which you can use for free. Make sure to bring a towel to dry off your feet. As mentioned before, the golden water might stain towels, so use something you don’t mind getting dirty.
Kin no Yu is open from 8:00 in the morning. We went there before they were officially open, but there were already several people in line. Particularly the weekends are very busy, so we recommend going early.
2. Kanpo no Yado Arima - Hot Spring Water Straight from the Source
Head up the winding hill road to find Kanpo no Yado Arima, this hotel's hot springs are also open to people on day trips. Hot spring water is directly pumped from the source into the facility, making the hotel very popular.
First, buy a ticket from the vending machine just inside the hotel entrance. Admission is 800 yen (tax included) for guests older than 12, 400 yen for children six to 11, and free for children five and below.
Additional charges may be applied during the weekends, public holidays, the New Year’s holiday, Golden Week, Obon and other times of the year. Please check the information section for more.
After you’ve bought a ticket, change into slippers on the first floor and take the elevator to 4F. Once you arrive, give your ticket to the staff member at the entrance to the bathing area (pictured above).
Picture courtesy of Kanpo no Yado Arima
Kanpo no Yado Arima is unique for having its own hot spring source, which flows directly to the public baths in the hotel. It is said to have the highest quality water among all of the hot springs at Arima Onsen.
We were allowed to get close to the hot water source. This is the Atagoyama spring, the fountainhead for the public baths located inside the facility. Normally you can’t enter, but you can see it from the corridors of the guest room floors on the 3rd and 4th floor.
This single narrow pipe pumps up water from 300 meters below ground! Because of the water’s extremely high concentration of salt and iron, this pipe needs to be changed once every ten days or it will start to rust.
This is the spring water soon after it wells up. Since it has begun to oxidize, it has developed a faint color.
Through steady exposure to air, the water continues to oxidize, creating its beautiful golden color.
After your bath, you can enjoy a relaxing time at Kanpo no Yado Arima's lobby rest area and cafe. There is a cable car station less than ten minutes away on foot that leads to the summit of Mt. Rokko. Feel free to drop by on your way back.
3. Goshoboh - A Different World at Arima Onsen’s Most Ancient Hot Spring
The last onsen we’ll introduce is the oldest one in Arima, Goshoboh. Goshoboh is said to have been founded in 1191! This particular building has been standing for up to a century.
Entering the lobby feels like stepping into a different world, with the atmosphere created by the building’s warm wooden tones and soft lighting.
If you’re on a day trip, you pay at reception. English speaking staff is available. The day trip special runs from 11:00 to 14:00 and costs 1,695 yen after tax, which includes admission fees for the facility and a hand towel.
Goshoboh partially allows co-ed bathing, which is rather unique. Only a narrow barrier separates the men’s side from the women’s side. This is why the golden spring’s color is extremely dark. You might feel a bit nervous, but once you sit and enjoy your bath it will surely be fine. The entrance is designed in a way neither side can see the other, so don’t worry about being seen. It could even be fun to go as a couple!
Once you relieved your fatigue in the hot spring, we recommend relaxing in the salon. The salon has been used as a dance hall for guests until a century ago.
The parquet wood floors, French-made stained glass, and other interior features are unchanged from those long-gone days. A truly enjoyable sight.
The salon also operates as a coffee shop. The bookshelves are lined with art and travel-themed photo books, so read some books as you relax.
As you walk through Goshoboh, it feels as though you’re in an art museum. The design of the building was conceived by the artist Hirosuke Watanuki. You can encounter his works as a designer, writer, sculptor, and potter all throughout the building.
These works are nonchalantly hidden all over Goshoboh. How about trying to find a place inside which appeals to you most.
The atmosphere that fills Arima Onsen’s oldest hot spring inn is extraordinary. You can easily sample it for yourself on a day trip. Naturally, the experience is even more wonderful if you stay there as a guest. Here you can experience history, art, and hot springs all at once.
Have an Exceptional Time at Arima Onsen
We've only introduced three hot spring resorts in Arima, but there are many more places to go. It's fine to just enjoy the hot springs, but we recommend staying overnight to enjoy more of what Arima Onsen has to offer!
In cooperation with Kin no Yu, Kanpo no Yado Arima, Goshoboh