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A Rejuvenating Trip to Kinosaki Onsen

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Treat yourself to some rest and relaxation in the rejuvenating waters of Kinosaki Onsen! If you're planning a trip to the Kansai region of Japan and seeking a peaceful escape, hot springs are the perfect choice. Japan is world-renowned for the soothing nature of its hot springs, and in no other place can this be better appreciated than in the historical town of Kinosaki. Located in northern Hyogo, Kinosaki boasts 1,300 years of culture and tradition, with the town life centering around an appreciation for its natural hot springs.

While there are often restrictions in place that bar those with tattoos from entering public pools or baths, Kinosaki Onsen is unique in that tattoos of all shapes and sizes are permitted across every one of the town’s seven bathhouses. Moreover, the town retains a very traditional style, set apart from other public baths of Japan by not being muddied by overdeveloped concrete structures. In short, this blend of progressive acceptance of other cultures in tandem with the historical beauty of the town’s buildings makes Kinosaki the perfect spot for tourists from all walks of life to come and visit.

Appreciate the beauty of Kinosaki and stroll by the willow-lined Otani River that runs through the town. Tourists are encouraged to do so while wearing a yukata, sometimes provided by their accommodations, and it’s recommended that you set aside time to explore the town without specific plans in place. This act of leisurely wandering without aim is known as そぞろ歩き (sozoroaruki) in Japanese, and it allows visitors an opportunity to fully appreciate what Kinosaki has to offer in a manner free from stress or obligation. 

Hop between the town’s seven hot springs, as the waters of each individual spring are thought to bring fortune to a specific aspect of one’s life. For instance, the waters of Kouno-yu are said to provide happiness to marriage and longevity while the waters of Goshono-yu are said to bring luck in love and protection from fire. No two springs are identical in their spiritual benefits nor their architecture, and this pilgrimage between onsen will leave you with an unrivaled sense of cleanliness and relaxation.

Finally, end the day by resting at one of the many Japanese-style inns that sit on either side of the Otani River. Of these, the picturesque Nishimuraya Ryokan sits at the heart of the city, standing above the rest while offering regional delicacies and unmatched hospitality with its 160 years of tradition. Nishimuraya’s menu cycles depending on the season, and local ingredients are sourced and prepared on a traditional hearth located in the center of its restaurant. The crab of the region is particularly renowned for its taste, and is best enjoyed during winter months.

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