Day Trip to Arima Onsen from Osaka: Bathing in One of Japan’s Oldest Hot Spring

Nestled within the scenic Rokko Mountains, Arima Onsen is one of Japan’s most cherished hot spring towns. Boasting a history that traces back over a thousand years, this charming onsen town provides the perfect day trip from the bustling metropolis of Osaka. Whether you’re chasing the therapeutic embrace of mineral-rich waters, the taste of traditional treats, or the allure of age-old streets, Arima Onsen promises a day of rejuvenation.

Getting to Arima Onsen from Osaka:

By Train:

The most common route is taking the JR Kobe Line from Osaka to Sannomiya Station in Kobe. From there, switch to the Sannomiya Eki Terminal and take the bus to Arima Onsen Hot Springs.

Duration: Approximately 1 hour.

Cost: Around ¥2,500 one-way.

Immersing in Arima Onsen’s Waters:

Arima Onsen is distinguished by its unique spring types:

  • Kinsen (Gold Water): Rich in iron and salt, this brownish water benefits the skin and muscles.
  • Ginsen (Silver Water): A clear, radium-rich spring that alleviates muscle and joint pain.

Morning Dive:

1. Kin no Yu

Kin no Yu: Day Trip to Arima Onsen from Osaka

Start at the town’s main public bathhouse, offering both the gold and silver waters. With spacious indoor and outdoor baths, it’s an excellent introduction to Arima Onsen’s therapeutic offerings.

Summary based on multiple reviews from travelers who visited the Kin no Yu:

  1. Onsen Facilities
    • Cleanliness and maintenance of the place
    • The onsen is not very big but has 3 pools with varying temperatures
    • One of the pools has clear water while the other two are iron-rich waters with temperatures at 42 and 44 Celsius degrees respectively
    • There’s also a free foot bath and a place to wash hands
    • It’s necessary to remove shoes at the entrance, lockers are provided
  2. The Onsen Experience
    • Completely naked bathing experience with strangers might take getting used to
    • The temperature of the water might feel too hot to some, finding the right pool for their comfort
    • Relaxing experience overall, helping to relieve physical pain
    • Do remember to cool down, failing to do so might result in feeling light-headed
  3. The Onsen’s Unique Features
    • Special Arima cider and beer made with spring water available
    • The water has a unique brown or golden color due to its iron and salt content
    • After bathing, skin feels smooth suggesting mineral-rich waters
  4. Staff and Services
    • Friendly and helpful staff
    • Vending machines where you can pay for required items such as male/female bath, towels, amenities etc
    • Combination ticket for Kin No You and Gin No Yu available at affordable price
    • Foreigner and tattoo-friendly policies
  5. Preparation & Recommendations
    • Should bring own skincare products
    • May bring a towel if you want to avoid additional charges
    • It might suit those who favor older, more traditional hot spring experiences over new and 5-star spa-like ones

Strolling through Arima’s Streets:

Post your morning bath, take the time to explore the quaint town:

2. Arima Toys and Automata Museum

Arima Toys and Automata Museum: Day Trip to Arima Onsen from Osaka

This delightful museum showcases toys from both Japan and Europe. It’s a playful dive into history and culture.

Summary based on multiple reviews from travelers who visited the Arima Toys and Automata Museum:

  1. Museum Exhibits
    • Different themes on each floor, mostly consisting of European toys
    • Displays including Arima pens, peekaboo dolls and the tall piano stairs
    • Gothic, cute and Christmas-themed displays
    • A collection of classic machine and clockwork/gear toys, plus the famous robot Iron Man 28
    • A collection of toys dating back decades, including a nutcracker exhibition during Christmastime
    • A wide range of wooden toys with traditional designs and techniques from various parts of the world
  2. Interactive Activities
    • Toys stalls and tables where you can try some of the displayed items
    • Regular hourly shows/demonstrations, even when delivered in Japanese, are enjoyable
    • A train show teaching how the classic train system works
    • Various play areas, including blocks and board games for children of different age groups, and a floor for playing with simple toys and plushies
  3. On-Site Facilities and Services
    • The burger restaurant on 2nd floor, offering good quality food at affordable prices
    • A gift shop on the ground floor, which is a nice place for window shopping
    • Activities happening every half an hour on each floor that should not be missed
  4. General Impressions
    • Entry fee worth of 800 yen
    • Interesting to both adults and children, and can keep a family entertained for a whole day
    • Located near a famous Onsen in Japan

3. Tosen Shrine

Tosen Shrine: Day Trip to Arima Onsen from Osaka

A serene spot, this Shinto shrine has a history intertwined with the hot springs themselves. The statue of Okuninushi, the deity of love and “good matches,” is a highlight.

Feasting on Local Delicacies:

Lunch at Kutsurogiya: Dive into a plate of delectable Kobe beef here or try some seasonal specialties.

Summary based on multiple reviews from travelers who visited Kutsurogiya:

  1. Menu and Food Quality
    • Freshness of ingredients, including seafood such as salmon, sea eel, scallop, and oyster.
    • Steamed Kobe beef is a specialty.
    • Delicious potted rice.
    • Set courses available.
    • Generous portion sizes.
    • Food ready for an affordable price.
    • Unique tofu texture: soft yet a bit chewy.
  2. Service and Staff
    • Friendly staff.
    • Helpful service, even when busy.
    • Diners should know their order before sitting down.
    • Reservations are not accepted.
  3. Queue and Wait times
    • Expect long queues, especially at peak times.
    • Waiting time can easily be up to 45-60 minutes.
    • Recommended to come 30 minutes in advance or after 6:30pm.
    • Queueing system may not be well managed.
  4. Atmosphere and Venue
    • Traditional Japanese dining with a tatami area.
    • Expect to sit on the floor in the tatami area, which could cause sore legs for some customers.
    • Cash only establishment.
  5. Preparation and Waiting Period
    • Pot rice takes about 30 minutes to cook.
    • Group orders should be made in advance where possible.
    • Dinner begins at 5pm.
    • Appetisers are available while waiting for the main course.

Treat Yourself: Don’t forget to sample Arima Onsen’s signature treats – the Arima Cider and Tansan Senbei (carbonated rice crackers).

Afternoon Respite:

4. Gekkoen Korokan

Gekkoen Korokan in Arima Onsen

This ryokan offers day-trip bathing in its serene environment. With views of the surrounding mountains and a variety of baths to try, it’s the perfect spot for a mid-day soak.

Summary based on multiple reviews from travelers who visited Gekkoen Korokan:

  1. Location and Environment
    • Located on top of a flight of stairs, providing a quiet and serene environment.
    • Surrounded by nature, with a pond and frogs heard singing in the area.
  2. Temples and Shrines
    • Shrine is reputed for its serene beauty and peacefulness, making it worth a visit despite the climb.
    • The shrine is noted for its fame as a deity for fertility blessings, making it a popular spot for visitors interested in blessings for having children.
    • Shrine is close to a temple and so can be visited together.
  3. Amenities
    • Multiple stamps or seals (御朱印) are available for visitors to choose from, offered in a self-serve manner with honesty payment.
    • The stairs lead to an open plaza-like area where the shrine is located, providing ample space.
  4. Visitor Tips
    • Good number of stairs to climb, providing an opportunity for exercise.
    • May be less crowded early in the morning or immediately after lunch.
    • May need to beware of temperature changes if planning to visit after bathing in a hot spring, as it could cool down after the climb.
    • Cost of getting a stamp or seal (御朱印) is 500 yen, with two types available.

Evening Elegance:

5. GoshoBessho

GoshoBessho in Arima Onsen

Before heading back, consider a final dip in this ryokan’s picturesque baths. With evening views and peaceful ambiance, it’s a serene way to conclude your Arima Onsen excursion.

Summary based on multiple reviews from travelers who visited GoshoBessho:

  1. Accommodation
    • The hotel offers secluded villas with high ceilings and fans.
    • Some rooms are maisonettes or bungalow-style and quite spacious (over 100 square meters).
    • The rooms have a view on a small pond with koifish.
    • Rooms have the facility to mix your own hot spring water in the bathtub.
    • The rooms also come with a sauna before entering the bathroom.
    • There is a bird’s nest-style open-air bath that you can enjoy without leaving the room.
    • The rooms have heated bathroom floors.
  2. Hot Springs
    • The hotel has a sauna room to use before entering the bathroom.
    • If staying at the hotel, guests are also allowed access to the other hotel’s hot spring down in the town.
    • There are two kinds of waters: the golden brown one and the colorless.
    • The quality of the hot springs is highly appreciated.
  3. Cuisine
    • The food quality is highly praised, offering a refined taste.
    • The hotel also provides special meals for celebrations such as birthdays.
    • Both the dinner and breakfast offerings are highly commended.
  4. Service
    • Staff members are friendly and always on hand to greet guests with a smile.
    • The staff’s hospitality receives high praise, especially for those with little children.
    • The staff provides shuttle service to and from the Arima Onsen town.
  5. Location
    • The hotel is located in the hills of Arima Onsen and surrounded by nature.
    • The serene and relaxing location is suitable for those looking for a getaway.

6. Shopping and Souvenirs

The town is sprinkled with shops offering unique souvenirs. From yukatas (summer kimonos) to local crafts, ensure you pick a memento of your trip.

Practical Tips for Your Day Trip to Arima Onsen from Osaka:

  • Attire: While bathing, wear the provided yukata and follow the onsen etiquette. Always wash thoroughly before entering the communal baths.
  • Tattoos: Some onsens might be hesitant about tattoos due to their association with the Yakuza. It’s wise to check in advance or cover smaller tattoos.
  • Stay Hydrated: With multiple baths, ensure you’re drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Connectivity: While the town is tourist-friendly, having a translation app can be handy.
  • Local Etiquette: Arima Onsen is a place of relaxation. Respect the local customs, speak softly, and give way to the elderly.
  • Weather Watch: Arima Onsen sees seasonal shifts – cherry blossoms in spring, vibrant foliage in autumn, and sometimes snow in winter. Dress accordingly.

Returning to Osaka from Arima Onsen: The last trains typically run till late evening, but always check the schedule to avoid getting stranded. Remember, the journey back is about an hour, so plan your departure from Arima Onsen accordingly.

Arima Onsen is more than just a hot spring destination; it’s a realm where Japan’s ancient traditions blend seamlessly with nature’s embrace. Even if you’re pressed for time in the Kansai region, this delightful town, with its healing waters and heartfelt hospitality, is well worth a day trip to Arima Onsen from Osaka.