During the two years my wife Kayo and I spent with the former OSI-K program in Kameoka, one of our favorite getaways was to the small town of Kinosaki near the Sea of Japan coast on the west coast of Japan.
In last week’s article about Sonobe, it said that only diesel powered trains went beyond Sonobe. We went to Kinosaki on one of those diesel powered trains. Actually, since the time we used to visit there the name of the town has been changed to Kinosaki Onsen.
It’s a charming hot springs resort on a cliff overlooking the mouth of the Maruyama River where the river empties into the Sea of Japan.
The town, which has a history of more than 1,000 years, is very picturesque with beautifully maintained traditional architecture seen in the more than 40 onsen hotels along a river lined with cherry and willow trees.
But, not everyone wants to stay at an onsen hotel. Some, like Kayo and I, stay at a regular hotel or a bed and breakfast. For those like us there are several large public onsen.
When we stayed in Kinosaki, I remember waking up early to the klickety klack sound of the wooden geta as people wearing summer kimonos called yukata and with wooden geta on their feet were on their way to their favorite public onsen. That sound has been heard in Kinosaki every day for centuries and it’s a pleasant sound to wake up to.
But, there’s more to Kinosaki than the mineral baths. It’s a place well known for its seafood, particularly crabs. There’s nearly as many crab shops and crab restaurants as onsen hotels in the small tourist town. One can have a nice crab dinner, then go to one of the shops and buy fresh crabs packed in ice to take home.
But, if crab is not to your liking, there’s world-famous Kobe beef. Another popular thing to do is to ride the Kinosaki Ropeway up a relatively small mountain for a spectacular panoramic view of the town below with the Sea of Japan beyond the town and distant mountains to the left and right. Some describe Kinosaki as Japan’s best onsen town while many describe it one of the best. Whichever opinion is more accurate, it’s a nice place to visit and it will certainly provide good memories.
Larry Jones is a member of the Stillwater Sister Cities Council.