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Onsen-ing in Kobe

January 25, 2018

Japanese Onsen

Are you stressed out? Had tough week at work? Do you feel tired and out of motivation?

I got a great idea for you! How about going to an onsen (hot spring bath) and relax in the hot water while regaining your energy and forgetting you daily stress? Japanese have been doing this for hundreds of years to cleanse their body and soul. So here are some helpful tips for you to experience onsen-ing the Japanese way:

  1. What to bring: shampoo, body soap, a small towel (to wash yourself), a bigger towel to dry yourself after bathing, and if your hair is long enough for a ponytail, bring a hair band or some hair clips (usually provided: slippers, hairdryers)
  2. The male and female bathing areas are separated, so make sure you go to the right side. The entrances are usually marked with a split curtain (blue for men (男) and red for women (女)).
  3. Get mentally prepared to undress in front of other people (same sex) in the common changing room. You are supposed to undress completely and put your clothes inside of a basket, which you then put into the shelf on the wall. Just take your small towel and soap (and hair band) to the bathing area.
  4. When you enter the bathing area, you will find small wash places along the walls. You are supposed to wash yourself completely (including your hair) before entering the bath tub, but be careful to not splash around with soap and water.
  5. When you are clean and soap-free, tie your hair up, clean your spot and put everything back for the next person to use.
  6. Relax in the hot water.
  7. After onsen-ing Japanese people often drink cold milk and they swear it is THE best!

So you are ready to go?

Ninomiya Onsen

You will find this cute onsen close to Sannomiya station in Kobe’s downtown area. It is actually a sento bath, which means that the pools have heated tap water. However this place does have one pool that is filled with real onsen water (rich in minerals), and therefore is accompanied by typical metallic scents. In comparison to other onsen places, Ninomiya Onsen is nothing extraordinary, but it is really cheap and therefore great, if you like to go several times a month or even a week. Also this place has a salt sauna for those of you who like variation.

Address: 4 Chome-2-18 Ninomiyachō, Chūō-ku, Kōbe
Open: Everyday 2:00 p.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Price: 380 yen

Minatoyama Onsen

This place is a bit out of the city center, but still easy to reach via public transportation and it is definitely worth the visit. They have five different onsen water-pools with different temperatures ranging from 26°C up to 46°C. The price is medium range, but definitely not too high for what you get. On top, this is one of the few baths that seem to allow tattooed people to enter.

Address: 26-26-1 Minatoyamachō, Kōbe
Open: Thursday to Tuesday 5:00 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.; last entry 10:00 p.m. (closed: Public holidays / Wednesdays)
Prices: Adults: 680 yen (5:00 a.m. – 7:00 a.m. 500 yen)
Middle schoolers: 430 yen
Elementary schoolers: 230 yen (weekends: 100 yen)
Children aged 0-6: 110 yen (weekends: free)

Arima Onsen

In this small but famous onsen village behind Mount Rokko, there are two natural hot springs that go by the names of the Golden (Kin no Yu) and the Silver (Gin no Yu) spring. The names come from the colored water, which is very rich in minerals and great for your skin and general health. I would recommend spending a whole day in Arima Onsen town as it is really beautiful and a great destination for a day trip. You can also stay overnight there in one of the traditional guest houses (ryokan) with your own private bath.

Address: 833 Arimachō, Kita-ku, Kobe 651-1401
Open:
Kin no Yu: 8:00 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.; last entry: 9:30 p.m.
(closed: 2nd & 4th Tuesdays of the month, the day after a public holiday, January 1st)

Gin no Yu: 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.; last entry: 8:30 p.m.
(closed: 1st + 3rd Tuesdays of the month, the day after a public holiday, January 1st)
Prices:
Kin no Yu: Adults 650 yen, Elementary schoolers 340 yen, Infants free
Gin no Yu: Adults 550 yen, Elementary schoolers 290 yen, Infants free

Double Entry Spa Ticket (both onsen): 850 yen

Note: A lot of public baths don’t allow tattoos, especially those that cover a big part of your body. The places, where it is prohibited, will let you know by a ‘no Tattoo’ sign somewhere around the entrance or by telling you.

By Yosemite (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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