Kinosaki Onsen (城崎温泉) is one of the oldest onsen resorts in Japan with a history that dates back to the 8th century. Kinosaki is located in northern Hyōgo Prefecture and was merged with Toyooka City (豊岡市) in 2005. The hot springs of Kinosaki are said to have healing properties, a fact that was discovered when storks were observed healing their wounds in the thermal spring water.
View on Kinosaki Onsen and Maruyama River
The picturesque town is relatively small and can be discovered on foot.
Sights and things to do
Staying at a ryokan and visiting some of the seven onsen in Kinosaki
To get the classic Kinosaki Onsen experience, visitors can stay in a traditional ryokan and go onsen-hopping. The ryokan here have a serene, peaceful atmosphere with gardens, both delicious and beautiful meals, and extremely attentive staff. They provide their guests with a yukata to stroll through town along the willow or cherry blossom-lined river, stopping in onsens, foot baths, and shops along the way.
Guests at the ryokan can obtain a free pass to all seven public baths:
- Goshono-yu (御所の湯)
- Ichino-yu (一の湯)
- Jizo-yu (地蔵湯)
- Kono-yu (鴻の湯, the onsen where the storks bathed to heal their wounds)
- Mandara-yu (まんだら湯)
- Satono-Yu (さとの湯)
- Yanagi-yu (柳湯)
Hyogo Park of the Oriental White Stork
Toyooka City is known for being the last place in Japan where the Oriental White Storks lived before they went extinct in 1971. After this happened, the city worked to revive the population and bring them back into the wild. In 2005, the first five were released back into the wild after being raised in captivity. Visitors can observe Oriental White Storks flock back to the park to be fed fish by the park's staff. The park is a beautiful area, with a museum that has lots of information about the storks.
Izushi Castle Town (Castle Ruins, Karo Yashiki, and Eirakukan Kabuki Theatre)
Not as well known as Kinosaki, Izushi (出石町) is a nearby town of Toyooka with an old Edo charm. The town has beautiful castle ruins, an interesting samurai house (Karo Yashiki), and a traditional kabuki theatre. In the Eirakukan Kabuki Theatre, visitors take a behind-the-scenes look at the stage, powder rooms backstage, and a rotating contraption under the stage. For lunch, it is recommended to stop at one of Izushi's many soba shops, as the town specialises in soba served in small portions on small plates (five plates per serving).
Located along the Maruyama River between Toyooka and Kinosaki Onsen, Genbudo Park consists of five caves made of columnar joints that formed over 1.6 million years ago after the magma from a volcanic eruption cooled, contracted, and formed vertical cracks. These curvaceous columns have a distinctive hexagonal shape and a honeycomb pattern.
Geopark Sea Kayaking at Takeno Beach
At Takeno Beach, visitors can explore the scenic views of San’in Coastal Geo Park on a kayak (called a Geo Canoe by the locals). The sea off of Takeno Beach has a high level of transparency, making it crystal clear. From spring to autumn, the waters are a beautiful emerald green colour, and the waves are calm. Taking the kayaks out in the evening and watching the sunset at sea is a particularly breathtaking sight. The Hasakari rocks are the symbols of the San’in Geopark.
Kinosaki Straw Craft Museum
Beautiful straw work found only in Kinosaki; visitors can also make their own for a small additional fee.
Beautiful view of the town from the top of the ropeway, incredible Onsenji Temple halfway down.
Irori Dining Mikuni
A restaurant that specialises in Tajima beef.
- The Seven Public Baths of Kinosaki
- Staying at a Japanese Ryokan
- Oriental White Stork Attractions
- Genbudo Museum & Park
- Geopark Sea Kayaking
- Straw Craft Workshop
By train: from Himeji by JR Hamakaze Limited Express, from Kyōto (Nijō Station) by JR Hashidate Limited Express.
By bus: there are daily buses from Osaka.