Largest City

Kinosaki Onsen

If you’re in search of a genuinely authentic onsen experience, Kinosaki should be your next getaway.

Lonely Planet named this unbelievably quaint town in northern Hyogo as one of Japan’s best onsen destinations. It has everything you need for a weekend of relaxation and proper Japanese hospitality.

The famous hot springs of Kinosaki were discovered in the 8th century. Today there are seven public baths staggered throughout town, each unique and equally charming. Gosho no Yu has the distinction of being in the middle, and is the newest onsen as well as one of the biggest. It offers saunas as well as indoor and outdoor baths below a natural waterfall that rushes down the mountainside.

Wander the atmospheric streets of Kinosaki Onsen. Photo by James Gochenouer.

Tattoo-friendly onsen

The waters at each onsen are imbued with meaning; at Gosho no Yu, it is believed that a soak in the tubs will help you find a future spouse as well as prevent fire. (My kinda’ bath).

Luckily, for tattooed visitors, all of Kinosaki’s public onsen are tattoo-friendly, no matter the size of your tattoo.  Besides Gosho no Yu,  Satono-Yu is the largest onsen in town and has many different types of baths for people to try. It also may be good if you are an onsen first-timer since you can try out different styles of baths (hot, cold, jacuzzi, etc).

Mandara-Yu and Kouno-Yu are also recommended because they are the two onsens located farther away from the busy main streets,  often making for a quieter, calmer (and possibly less crowded) experience.

Mandara-Yu open air outdoor bath

Photo by: Visit Kinosaki Tattoo-friendly Mandara-Yu’s open-air outdoor bath.

Many visitors go “onsen hopping” to sample what each has to offer. Part of the quintessential Kinosaki experience is wearing a yukata (light cotton kimono) while going from bath to bath – it makes changing multiple times convenient and it’s a great way to engage in the traditional bathing culture. The ryokans have a selection of yukata in various designs for you to wear, or you can rent one at a local shop. Some people even wear geta (traditional wooden sandals) as they walk the cobblestone streets. The heavy clacking of the sandals upon the stone evokes days of yore and adds to the serious atmospheric-ness.

Kinosaki Satono-Yu

Photo by: Visit Kinosaki Satono-Yu is another tattoo-friendly onsen in Kinosaki.

If you are staying in a ryokan and looking for a tattoo-friendly onsen, it is always advised to call ahead before booking, but even if the inn is not, you can easily walk out to the public baths around town and partake.

Kinosaki by season

The allure of Kinosaki changes with the seasons, all of which have something to offer.

A ropeway will take you to the top of Kinosaki’s Mt. Taishi, which offers beautiful panoramic views of the town below and the mountains and sea beyond. Stop halfway up to visit Osenji temple. Photo by James Gochenouer.

6 Things To do at Kinosaki Onsen in Autumn

Come in early November to mid-December for fall leaves that brilliantly color the surrounding mountains; January for the snow; early to mid-April for the cherry blossoms; and summer for the lush willow trees that hang over the Otani river. Sample the local cuisine; tajima beef from Kobe cattle and fresh crab (from November to March) at one of the local restaurants or in the comfort of your own ryokan, where you can dine kaiseki ryori (traditional multi-course dinner)-style in your bedroom.

There are many traditional festivals in Kinosaki, including the Onsen Festival, held on April 23 and 24, to commemorate the death of founder Dochi Shonin, and the Furosato Festival, known for its evening fireworks display in August.


6 Things To do at Kinosaki Onsen in Autumn

The backdrop to an awesomely local autumn experience in Japan.


Things To Know

Onsen Hopping

The “yumepa” is a digital ticket that allows you to visit all of the baths by scanning it at the entrance of each onsen. You can get it at your ryokan (usually included in a night’s stay) or the tourist information center for ¥1200.

How To Get There


Japan, Hyōgo-ken, Toyooka-shi, 県道3号線

By train

From Kyoto: The Limited Express Kinosaki runs some direct trains from Kyoto Station to Kinosaki. If it stops at Toyooka City, you can transfer to any train on the Kinosaki Onsen/Tottori line and reach Kinosaki in a few minutes. From Osaka: The Limited Express Hamakaze and the Limited Express Kounotori trains go nonstop from Osaka Station to Kinosaki Onsen in about 2.5 hours.

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