Famous Hot Springs in Japan: Arima Onsen (Hyogo Prefecture)
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Arima Onsen is counted as one of the three most famous hot springs (Japan’s Best Three Onsen) and is located near Kobe City in Hyogo Prefecture. This is the Kansai area’s symbolic onsen and has been steaming white vapor for over 1300 years.
Arima Onsen is also counted as one of the most famous historical hot springs (Best 3 Ancient Hot Springs) as records show that it was already nationally famous in the year 631 when the Emperor at the time came to soak in the bubbling springs.
Seven different sources of the hot springs can be seen in Arima. The spring water of Arima Onsen is unique around the world for its mixed blend of different components including hydrogen carbonate, chloride, and sulfate. The picture below is of the famous spring, Tenjin Sengen.
Hot springs are divided into two categories in Japan, the first being “kin-sen” (golden hot spring) which is red-colored and contains large amounts of iron, and the second being “gin-sen” (silver hot spring) which is clear-colored. It’s very rare to have both types of hot springs in one area and many ryokan traditional inns in Arima have baths for each type of water.
1. Tour of “tachi-yori” onsen (baths you can enter for a short time without staying overnight)
First let’s get into some large communal gin-no-yu (golden baths) and kin-no-yu (silver baths) so we can get to know the difference between the two. Not only are there lots of indoor kin-no-yu, but also many ashi-yu (foot baths) you can casually enjoy throughout the area. You can even drink some of the water at certain places!
Arima Onsen Kin-no-Yu（有馬温泉 金の湯）
Address: 833 Arima-cho, Kita-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo（兵庫県神戸市北区有馬町833）
Phone No.: +81-78-904-0608
Open: 8:00 – 22:00 (Last entry at 21:30)
Closed: Every 2nd and 4th Tuesdays (open in case of national holidays and then closed the following day), and on January 1st
Arima Onsen Gin-no-Yu（有馬温泉 銀の湯）
Address: 1039-1 Arima-cho, Kita-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo（兵庫県神戸市北区有馬町1039-1）
Phone No.: +81-78-904-0256
Open: 9:00 – 21:00 (Last entry at 20:30)
Closed: Every 1st and 3rd Tuesdays (open in case of national holidays and then closed the following day), and on January 1st
For those who want to spend all day relaxing in hot springs we recommend Taiko-no-Yu. The place is practically a theme park covering an area of 1,900 tsubo (“tsubo” is a measurement of space equaling 3.31m2, giving Taiko-no-Yu an area of around 6,289m2) and counting those for both men and women has 24 different kinds of baths including kin-sen (gold bath), gin-sen (silver bath), and carbonated baths (man-made) to enjoy.
Arima Onsen Taiko-no-Yu（有馬温泉 太閤の湯）
Address: 292-2 Ike-no-Shiri, Arima-cho, Kita-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo（兵庫県神戸市北区有馬町池の尻292−２）
Phone No.: +81-78-904-2291
2. Have lunch at a soba restaurant that has acquired one Michelin Star
Let’s head over to Muragen for lunch which has acquired one Michelin Star. Muragen is a soba restaurant located in a refurbished, old, traditional Japanese-style house. Here only domestically grown buckwheat is used and milled in the restaurant to make 100% buckwheat “mori-soba” (1,080 yen) which you can enjoy with two flavors of soba dipping sauce and sun-dried sea salt.
Soba Muragen（蕎麦 むら玄）
Address: 1136 Arima-cho, Kita-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo（兵庫県神戸市北区有馬町1136）
Phone No.: +81-78-904-1101
Open: 11:30 – 15:00 (11:00 – 17:00 on Saturdays, Sundays, and national holidays)
3. Walk through the nostalgic atmosphere of Yumotozaka
Yumotozaka is a 600 m long street that is lined with long-standing shops. Let’s enjoy exploring this area while peeking in at the cafes and folk handicraft shops of Arima.
（Source：top left トラベルタウン有馬温泉, bottom left 大阪から子連れでお出かけ＆食べ歩き, right find travel）
4. International toy collection at the enjoyable Arima Toys and Automata Museum
Both kids and adults alike will be absorbed by the exquisite georama models and cute soldier dolls.
Arima Toys and Automata Museum（有馬玩具博物館）
Address: 797 Arima-cho, Kita-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo（兵庫県神戸市北区有馬町797）
Phone No.: +81-78-903-6971
Open: 9:30 – 18:00
Closed: Every 2nd and 3rd Tuesdays
5. Taiko-bashi and Nene-bashi bridges
On the way towards Arima Onsen Station from the hot springs area, you’ll find the two famous bridges, Taiko-bashi and Nene-bashi, which get their names from the famous military general Toyotomi Hideyoshi and his wife Nene who have historical connections with Arima Onsen. How about taking a walk around the bridges where underneath you can find a softly rolling river and beautiful park? Illuminations at night make for quite a fantastical atmosphere.
6. Do some shopping at Yoshitaka-ya in front of the Arima Onsen Station
Lastly, let’s do some shopping at Yoshitaka-ya in front of the station. Here you can find Arima’s famous “tansan-sembei” (carbonated cracker) made from the carbonated springs of Arima Onsen which has a light texture and slight sweetness. You also need to try the strong yet addicting “teppo water” (“teppo” means “rifle” in Japanese) (also known as “Arima Cider”) while you’re in Arima which is also made from Arima Onsen’s carbonated springs.
Address: 259 Arima-cho, Kita-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo（兵庫県神戸市北区有馬町259）
Phone No.: +81-78-904-0154
Open: 9:00 – 20:00
Closed: Wednesdays (Open when falling on a national holiday)
This is an exquisite ryokan traditional inn that is based on the Japanese legend of Taketori. This inn is popular for its private kazoku-buro (family-baths) where you don’t have to worry about other guests as you enjoy soaking, especially the one bath named “yon-no-yu” (the fourth bath) which has both a kin-no-yu (golden bath) and a gin-no-yu (silver bath) you can relax while looking out at a beautiful garden!
（Source：above left – right 竹取亭円山, bottom left rurubu.travel）
◆Arima Grand Hotel
One can relax here with a free shuttle bus (reservations required) that will take you from Arima Onsen Station all the way up to the hill that offers unbroken views of the Arima Onsen Town area. There are great views from the guest rooms and one may even be able to look out upon a sea of clouds from the rotenburo (outdoor bath) located on the roof. There are all different kinds of hot spring facilities here that could keep you busy all day just inside of the accommodation. In summer, a large pool is open that will make you feel like you’re staying in a resort.
（Source：above left まっぷるトラベル, above right – bottom 一休.com ）
The best season is spring when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom! Marvelous cherry trees line the sides of the Arima River which runs through the hot spring town and you can also find fabulous weeping cherry trees at Zenpuku-ji Temple.
（Source：Above 神戸観光壁紙写真集 ）
Arima Onsen is also located near the Kikuseidai observation point on Mt. Maya which offers stunning night views of Kobe City, one of top three night views in all of Japan. You can get there from Arima Onsen by ropeway or bus, but since we can’t guarantee a ride home we highly recommend using a taxi. Please be sure to consult the staff for any advice or help at your accommodation before heading out. For those leaving Shin-Kobe Station on the shinkansen bullet trains, access is super easy from Arima Onsen to Shin-Kobe Station.
Mt. Maya Kikuseidai Observation Point（摩耶山 掬星台）
Address: 2-2 Mayasan-cho, Nada-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo（兵庫県神戸市灘区摩耶山町２−２）
Phone No.: +81-78-371-5937
From Shin-Kobe Station, take a train on the Hokushin Kyuko Line to Tanigami Station, change trains to the Arima Line on the Kobe Dentetsu Railway and head towards your destination at Arima Onsen Station (about 30 minutes).
Take the Arima Express from the JR Express Highway Bus Terminal at Osaka Station which takes about 65 minutes
*Express highway buses are also available from the Shin-Kobe and Sannomiya train stations (confirmation required).
Address: (Arima Onsen Tourism Association) 790-3 Arima-cho, Kita-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo （兵庫県神戸市北区有馬町790-3（有馬温泉観光協会））
Phone No.: +81-78-904-0708
Official Website (Site available in English, Chinese, and Korean languages)
Required Time: Half-day
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SHINOBU KOBAYASHI Reporters