Arima Onsen is a historic hot spring town in the Kita Ward of Kobe City in Hyogo Prefecture. It is one of Japan’s three oldest onsen towns and is unique for its famous “Kinsen” golden hot spring water, which turns to a reddish-gold colour when it comes in contact with air, and its “Ginsen” silver spring water, which is carbonated and colourless.
Arima Onsen town was founded over a thousand years ago and it has since been rebuilt by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a military commander who unified Japan in 1590, and his wife Nene. Today, Arima Onsen is a popular day trip destination for many tourists visiting Kobe, Osaka and Kyoto.
If you want to experience one of the best onsen towns in Japan, follow my Arima Onsen day trip itinerary and spend a day sightseeing, eating delicious local snacks and soaking in the Arima hot springs.
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Arima Onsen Day Trip: things you need to know
Before you start your day trip to Arima, take a look at my post on everything you need to know before going to Japan. I included a lot of information, including how to get around Japan and other travel tips.
Here are a few additional tips for visiting Arima onsen for the day:
- Arrive in Arima Onsen by 10:30am so you can comfortably see all the attractions in this day trip itinerary.
- Arima is a safe city for solo female travellers.
- The best way to see Arima is on foot. Make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes.
- Carry cash with you, as many eateries accept cash only.
- ICOCA is the prepaid IC card for Kansai Region. It is a rechargeable smartcard where you can take public transportation, including subway, bus, train, etc. It is useful to have especially if you are taking subway and train from Kobe to Arima.
- Plan your visit with the following festivals and events in Arima:
- Arima Cherry Blossom Festival (late March) – along Arima River and Cherry Tree Street.
- Arima Ryofu Kawazashiki (July 26-August 25) – see performances and geisha dances at Arima River Shinsui Park.
- Arima Summer Festival (August 4th-5th) – annual summer event along the main road.
- Arima Tea Ceremony (November 2 & 3) – at Zuihoji Park, Arima Grand Hotel, and Nenbutsuji Temple.
How to get to Arima Onsen from Kobe, Osaka and Kyoto
Train from Kobe to Arima Onsen
The best way to get to Arima from Kobe is by subway and train. It takes 30 minutes and costs ￥690 (buy a ticket or use your IC card).
- Kobe Municipal Subway (Seishin-Yamate Line): from Sannomiya Station to Tanigami Station
- Kobe Electric Railway (Kobe Dentetsu-Arima Line): from Tanigami Station to Arimaguchi Station. Change trains to Arimaonsen Station.
Bus from Osaka to Arima Onsen
The most direct way to travel from Osaka to Arima Onsen is by taking the Hankyu Expressway Bus. It takes about 1 hour and costs ￥1,400 (book online or buy a ticket at the counter).
- Hankyu Express Bus: from Hankyu Sanban Gai (Umeda) to Arima Onsen Bus Terminal
- Note: There are multiple buses daily. For a day trip from Osaka, take the earliest express bus at 9am and take the 5:40pm bus back to Osaka.
Bus from Kyoto to Arima Onsen
Similar to taking a day trip from Osaka, the most direct way to travel from Kyoto to Arima Onsen is by taking the Hankyu Expressway Bus. It takes about 1 hour 15 minutes and costs ￥1,650 (book online or buy a ticket at the counter).
- Hankyu Express Bus: from Kyoto Station to Arima Onsen Bus Terminal
- Note: There are only two buses to and from Arima Onsen. For a day trip from Kyoto, take the express bus at 9:30am to Arima and take the 5:20pm bus back to Kyoto.
Arima Hot Springs Attractions Map
All the top things to do in Arima are pinned on the interactive map. Red numbered pins are all the must-see Arima attractions on your day trip, blue pins are other things to do in Arima if you are staying longer, green pins are places to shop in Arima, burgundy pins are places to eat, and yellow pins are Arima accommodations if you want to stay overnight.
Arima Day Trip: Best of Arima Hot Spring in One Day
1 & 2. Arima River Shinsui Park and Nene Hashi Bridge
Whether you arrive via train or bus, walk by Arima River Shinsui Park first.
This is an open-air area that was once part of Arima River but it has been rebuilt as a public gathering space. During the day, you can see how the open space looks like. Usually there isn’t but make sure to come back at the end of the day. There could be some type of festival or events here.
Also look for the red bridge, which is called Nene Hashi Bridge. Not pictured here since this photo was taken from the bridge. There’s a bronze statue of Nene, the wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, next to the bridge.
3. Lunch at Kutsurogiya
I know you just arrived in Arima but perhaps it’s a good time for an early lunch. I highly recommend eating at Kutsurogiya. The restaurant is in a traditional Japanese and they specialize in Kamameshi (rice cooked in an iron pot).
I got the mix Manpuku course. The rice pot comes with red snapper, salmon, octopus and mountain herbs mushroom. They also serve other Kamameshi, soba, and udon noodles.
I went there right before it opens at 11am and didn’t have to wait (the line was really long when I left). I got a really cute tatami room on the second floor and enjoy this delicious taimeshi set lunch. It was so good! So make sure you go early.
Address: 839-2 Arimacho, Kita-ku, Kobe | Hours: 11am-3pm & 5-7:30pm; closed Tuesdays
4. Walk up the hilly Yumatozaka
Yumotozaka is the main road in Arima. If you google Arima, the images that come up are usually photos of this street. The hilly road is lined with souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants. This is where you can find some of the most famous snacks in Arima.
I really like Yumotozaka Shopping Street because of all the traditional Japanese houses. Plus, there are many good spots for taking photos (but the road is usually packed with people).
5 & 6. Arima Tenjin Shrine and Tenjin-sengen
I read somewhere that there are seven hot spring sources in Arima Onsen where the water wells up from underground. I found four and have included in this itinerary.
The first one is Tenjin-sengen which is at Arima Tenjin Shrine. The hot spring water source is a “kinsen” water which is the “gold spring” and it comes from 200m below Tenjin Shrine.
Other than the steam coming from the hot spring water source and the smell of sulfur, there isn’t much to see. But still pretty neat to know that’s where the hot spring water is coming from.
Address: 1402 Arimacho, Kita-ku, Kobe | Hours: 24 hours | Admission: free
There’s another one off Yumotozaka Shopping Street. When you see a small torii gate next to a coffee shop, walk through the small alleyway and you will see Uwanari-sengen.
This hot spring water source also has the “kinsen” golden water. And the name of the hot spring source literally means “jealous spring”. It is said that the hot spring used to gush hot water out whenever a beautiful woman walk by. Ha!
Address: Arimacho, Kita-ku, Kobe | Hours: 24 hours | Admission: free
Keep walking to the southeast end of Arima and Tansan-sengen is located on a hill and in Tansan Sengen Park.
This hot spring water source has colourless hot spring water that contains carbon dioxide. The water source provides hot spring water to Gin no Yu, one of the two public hot spring nearby. And this is also where Tansan Senbei wafers get their name from.
In front of the pagoda, there is faucet for carbonated spring water. I read that people used to add sugar to the water and drink it as cider. But you can try some here yourself. It has a bit of a salty flavour to it.
Address: Arimacho, Kita-ku, Kobe | Hours: 24 hours | Admission: free
9. Gin no Yu
As mentioned, there are two public hot springs in Arima and one of them is Gin no Yu or Silver Hot Springs.
This hot spring facility has two varieties of colourless hot spring or silver springs: carbonated springs (rich in carbonated acid) and radon springs (which contain radium).
The silver hot springs has many health benefits including increase in blood circulation and lower hypertension. And the radium contained in the steam of the radon hot spring can increase your immune system and help with other medical issues.
For me, I skipped Gin no Yu and went for the “golden springs” instead because that is what Arima is famous for. But if you quickly see everything else in Arima, there could be enough time for both onsens.
Address: 1039-1 Arimacho, Kita-ku, Kobe | Hours: 9am-9pm | Admission: ￥550 weekday ￥700 weekend
10 & 11. Gokurakuji Temple and Taiko-no Yudonokan
After the earthquake in 1993, excavation began around the collapsed areas of Gokurakuji Temple. They found ruins dating more than 400 years and these were believed to be the ruins of the bath and garden built by Taiko Hideyoshi.
Taiko-no Yudonokan, a special museum was set up to showcase the remains of Hideyoshi’s bathhouse items. There are also displays introducing Japanese hot spring culture.
The museum is small and everything is in Japanese (although they have brochures in English, Chinese and Korean). But if you are not keen, skip this part.
Address: 1642, Arimacho, Kita-ku, Kobe | Hours: 9am-5pm | Admission: ￥200 for museum
12. Nenbutsuji Temple
Nenbutsuji Temple was founded in 1539 and it is built around the remaining parts of Nene’s villa.
Today, it is a Buddhist temple with a beautiful 300-year-old Sal tree. If you visit in June, you can see the flowers in full bloom. There’s even a festival held here called “Appreciation of the Sal Tree Flowers”.
Address: 1641 Arimacho, Kita-ku, Kobe | Hours: 9am-5pm | Admission: free
13. Onsenji Temple
Onsenji Temple was established in 724 by Gyoki, the first Japanese Buddhist priest who tried to cure people using the hot spring. As the first temple built in Arima, it has several National Important Cultural Properties inside. Peek in and see the golden statue of Yakushi Nyorai (the healing Buddha).
Address: 1643, Arimacho, Kita-ku, Kobe | Hours: 9am-5pm | Admission: free
14. Tosen Shrine
There is a flight of stairs south of Onsenji. Walk up, turn left and you’ll see many stone lanterns lining a longer flight of stairs. There’s a red torii gate with a shrine behind it halfway up. Continue until you reach the torii gate at the top.
Behind the torii gate is Tosen Shrine. This is where the guardian deities of Arima Onsen are enshrined.
Wander around the premise and see other buildings. It might be possible to see a view of Arima from above if the trees are not too tall.
Address: 1908 Arima, Kita-ku, Kobe | Hours: 24 hours | Admission: free
Gosho-sengen is the hot spring source for Kin no Yu, one of the public hot springs in Arima. It pumps the famous “kinsen” red-golden water that is enriched with salt and iron.
It’s not really possible to get close to the source and it’s a bit hidden. When you walk downhill on the road, peek through the fence and trees and you’ll see the rusty looking structure.
16. Try some famous Arima snacks
There are a few unique snacks in Arima that you should try before experiencing a traditional hot spring. Look for some (or all) of these Arima treats on Taiko-dori Street and Yumotozaka:
- Tansan Senbei – thin, crispy cracker made with carbonated spring water.
- Takenaka Nichten – beef and potato croquette at Takenaka Nikuten. The savoury treat is made with chunky pieces of Wagyu beef and mashed potato.
- Wild boar bun – Arima An sells steamed bun with wild boar meat and Arima Sansho pepper
- Tansan-Cider – aka Arima Cider Teppo Water, a mildly sweet soda drink made with carbonated water of Arima.
- Arima beer – made from the subterranean water of Mount Rokko and Yamada-nishiki rice (best type of rice for sake brewing).
17. Kin no Yu
Kin no Yu is a public hot spring facility that uses kinsen aka “golden spring water” from Gosho-sengen, which is a reddish-golden colour that has high levels of salt and iron which is incredible healing properties.
Kinsen Hot Spring is a traditional onsen which mean you go in the hot springs naked. Yup, you read that right. And many traditional Japanese hot springs typically don’t allow people with tattoos. But I can confirm that this is a tattoo-friendly facility. And make sure to bring a towel; otherwise you can buy one there.
Obviously, I couldn’t take photos inside. But here’s the instructions on how to use the onsen at Kin no Yu:
- Put your shoes in one of the shoe lockers.
- Buy an entrance ticket at the vending machine.
- Give the ticket to the person at the counter, and you’ll get a bracelet with a key.
- Walk upstairs and find your locker inside the changing room.
- Put all your clothes and belongings inside the locker and lock it.
- Rinse yourself in the shower area before getting in one of the two hot springs (two different temperature) and enjoy.
There is a drinking fountain near the entrance of Kin no Yu. Try the carbonated water that comes outs of a gourd faucet (it was turned off when I was there).
And there is a free outdoor foot bath that uses the same kinsen hot spring water. If you don’t want to do a traditional hot spring soak, you can always dip your feet in the golden water.
Address: 833 Arimacho, Kita-ku, Kobe | Hours: 9am-9pm | Admission: ￥550 weekday ￥700 weekend
18. Buy Arima souvenirs
Before you leave Arima, pick up a few souvenirs that you can only find in Arima. Many souvenir shops sell similar items. They are primarily onsen-related products like onsen towels and bath salts. Also, visit food souvenir shops and pick up some carbonated rice crackers to bring home.
These are some of the souvenir shops where you can buy unique gifts from:
- Yoshitakaya (9:30am-7pm; closed Wednesdays) – the biggest souvenir store selling all kinds of things relating to hot springs.
- Arima Craft Gallery (?) – the general store is on the ground level and sells onsen salts, towels and other trinkets. Upstairs is an exhibit area displaying an extensive collection of salt and pepper shakers when I was there.
- Hetekara (10am-5pm) – a modern contemporary store selling Japanese soap, cosmetics, household goods, bags and food.
- Mitsumori Honten (9am-6pm) – you can try the freshly made soda crackers and buy some to take home.
Other things to do in Arima Japan
Besides all the Arima attractions in the itinerary, there are other things to do in Arima that cannot fit into the day trip itinerary. If you stay overnight, you can see some of these highlights around Arima the next day:
- Arima Toys and Automata Museum (9:30am-6pm; ￥800) – a toy museum that is great for kids and adults. See rare toys, mechanical puppets (automata) and a train diorama.
- Arima Masu Ike (9am-4pm; closed Wednesdays & Thursdays; ￥1,600) – go rainbow trout fishing in Arima. And they will even cook the fish that you catch.
- Atagoyama Park – follow the hiking trail and see views of Arima.
- Zuihoji Park – see hydrangea in June and the changing colours of the 2,500 maple trees in the fall.
- Mount Rokko – take the Rokko Arima Ropeway (12 minutes, ¥1,030 one way or ¥1,850 round trip) in Tsuzumigataki Park and see a day or night view of Kobe City and Osaka from the Rokko Garden Terrace.
- Mount Ochiba – hike around the mountain south of Arimaonsen Station and see stone Buddhas and Myokenji Temple. Maps.me shows the hiking route.
Where to stay in Arima Japan
Since Arima is one of the three historic onsen towns, I highly recommend staying overnight to get the whole experience of being in a hot spring town.
However, most “affordable” Arima hotels are older and more traditional. And if you select the cheapest room, the bathroom is likely shared.
But I really enjoyed my stay at Arima Musubi no Koyado Enn, a tiny hotel with Japanese-Western-style rooms and tatami mats. I booked the mountain view double room with a comfortable bed and sitting area. Everyone in the house shares the bathrooms. This is one of the cheapest and most modern hotels in Arima.
Is Arima Onsen worth visiting?
Suppose you only have one day to spare during your travels around the Kansai Region. In that case, I highly recommend spending a day in Arima Onsen because of the quaint surroundings and unique onsen experience.
And if you can stay overnight, you can enjoy a private onsen experience and explore other parts of Arima.
I hope this is a helpful post for planning your trip to Arima. Let me know in the comments below if you are going to Arima and if you found this itinerary useful.
Thank you for reading my Arima hot spring itinerary
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