Arima Onsen – Kobe: A Timeless Retreat in Japan’s Hot Spring Towns


Japan, a country known for its rich culture and timeless traditions, is home to many hot spring towns that offer a unique blend of relaxation and rejuvenation. Among these, Arima Onsen stands out as one of the oldest and most unique hot spring towns in the country. Nestled in the Rokko mountain range of Kobe, Arima Onsen is a charming town that boasts a rich history, therapeutic hot springs, and a tranquil atmosphere that promises a memorable retreat.

Getting to Arima Onsen

Arima Onsen is conveniently located in the Kansai region, making it easily accessible from major cities like Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe. Here are some ways to reach Arima Onsen:

From Kobe:

  • By Train: From Sannomiya or Shin-Kobe Station, take the Kobe Electric Railway to Arima Onsen. The journey takes about 30 minutes from Sannomiya and 20 minutes from Shin-Kobe.
  • By Bus: Shinki Bus operates a local bus service from Sannomiya and Shin-Kobe Station to Arima Onsen. The journey takes about 30 minutes. Here is the timetable for reference. JR West Bus also operates an express bus service from Sannomiya and Shin-Kobe Station to Arima Onsen. Here is the timetable for reference.

From Osaka:

  • By Train: Take the Hankyu Kobe Line from Umeda to Shinkaichi, then transfer to the Kobe Electric Railway to Arima Onsen. The total journey takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes.
  • By Bus: If you’re traveling with luggage, I highly recommend taking the bus. Hankyu Bus operates an express bus service from Osaka (Hankyu Umeda Station) to Arima Onsen. The journey takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes. The fare is 1,400 yen for adults and 700 yen for children. Here is the timetable for reference. Tickets can be purchased online from Japan Bus Online.

From Kyoto:

  • By Train: Take the Hankyu Kyoto Line from Kyoto to Juso, then transfer to the Hankyu Kobe Line to Shinkaichi, and finally take the Kobe Electric Railway to Arima Onsen. The total journey takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
  • By Bus: Again, the bus is a great option if you’re carrying luggage. Keihan Bus operates an express bus service from Kyoto to Arima Onsen. The journey takes about 70 minutes. The bus departs from Kyoto Station Hachijo Exit. Here is the timetable for reference. Tickets can be purchased online from Japan Bus Online.

Please note that no rail pass can be used on these bus services to Arima Onsen. For more detailed information, please check the JR West website.

The History of Arima Onsen

Arima Onsen’s history dates back over a thousand years, making it one of the oldest hot spring towns in Japan. Its popularity among the Imperial family and nobility during the Heian Period (794-1185) is well-documented, and it was often referred to as the “First Hot Spring of the World” in ancient literature.

The town’s hot springs were discovered by two gods, according to local folklore. The gods, Okuninushi and Sukunahikona, were said to have healed a wounded crow in the waters of Arima Onsen. This legend is commemorated in the town’s emblem, which depicts a crow with three legs.

The Magic of the Springs

Arima Onsen is unique for its two types of hot spring waters: the Kinsen (Gold Spring) and Ginsen (Silver Spring). The Kinsen, rich in iron and salt, is known for its reddish-brown water that is beneficial for skin ailments and muscle pain. The Ginsen, on the other hand, is a clear, radium and carbonate spring that is said to help with gastrointestinal disorders and other ailments.

Where to Stay

Arima Onsen, a charming hot spring town nestled in the Rokko mountain range, offers a variety of accommodations to suit every traveler’s needs. From luxurious ryokans and modern hotels to cozy guesthouses, there’s a place for everyone to rest after a day of exploring and soaking in the hot springs. For those with tattoos, it’s important to note that many public baths in Arima Onsen are not tattoo-friendly. However, there are many accommodations that offer private onsens, ensuring a comfortable and worry-free stay.

Tosen Goshoboh | Agoda |

A historic ryokan located in the heart of Arima Onsen. Founded in the 12th century, it is the oldest inn in Arima and has played a significant role in the town’s tourism. The inn, where Shogun Yoshimitsu Ashikaga once stayed, is by the side of the hot-spring source, offering the best fresh hot-spring. It offers an authentic Japanese experience with its traditional rooms and exclusive hot spring baths. The ryokan serves “Yamaga Cuisine”, a polished-rustic Japanese cuisine style, and is the only licensed inn in the Kobe region to join auctions in the Akashi-ura fishing port. For guests with tattoos, it’s recommended to book one of the two Premium Suites that come with a private onsen. The inn has two public hot spring baths and one rental onsen for private use.

Nakanobo Zuien | Agoda |

A luxury ryokan that offers an exclusive adults-only experience. This ryokan, once praised by Grace Kelly for its beautiful garden, offers both gold and silver hot springs in its private baths. The suites with open-air baths are a popular choice for those who wish to enjoy the hot springs in the comfort of their room. The food at Nakanobo is predominantly kaiseki ryori, a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner, and the dishes vary with the season, sourced from local farms, the nearby mountains, and the Seto Inland Sea.

Okuno Hosomichi | Agoda |

A ryokan that offers a unique experience with its private onsen in each room. The ryokan also has two public baths and one rental hot spring bath for private use. The inn’s specialty is the “Unkai Nabe”, a dish served with cotton candy clouds and wagyu beef, along with 12 seasonal assorted Japanese side dishes and miracle ice cream for dessert.

Arimasanso Goshobesho | Agoda |

A luxury ryokan that offers a unique experience with its suite rooms equipped with private hot springs and low-temperature saunas. The most premium room features the world’s first treehouse-style hot spring, designed based on the myth of the three crows that discovered Arima Onsen. All rooms have a private hot spring, and the ryokan also has a large public bath with a golden hot spring.

Hotel Hanakoyado | Agoda |

A traditional ryokan with only nine rooms, offering two private family baths with the highest quality of Arima golden hot spring. As a sister inn of Tousen Goshoboh, it serves the same “Yamaga Cuisine”.

Koyado Uraku | Agoda |

A budget-friendly choice located in the middle of the onsen town, just a short walk from the golden and silver hot springs. While it doesn’t have an onsen, its central location makes it a convenient base for exploring Arima Onsen.

Brücke Arima Kobe | Agoda |

A popular hostel within walking distance of the public baths, restaurants, and cafes. It offers dormitory beds and a cafe bar that serves freshly baked croissants, ground coffee, sandwiches, cheesecakes, and drinks.

Whether you’re looking for a luxurious ryokan experience, a modern hotel with all the amenities, or a cozy guesthouse to meet fellow travelers, Arima Onsen has a range of accommodations to suit your preferences and budget. For those with tattoos, remember to choose accommodations with private onsens to ensure a comfortable and worry-free stay.

Exploring Arima Onsen

Arima Onsen is more than just hot springs. The town is home to a variety of attractions that cater to different interests.

  • Kin-no-yu: This bathhouse is fed by the Kinsen spring, also known as the “Gold Spring”. The water is brown due to its high iron content, which is why it’s referred to as “gold”. The water from this spring is said to be beneficial for muscle pain, joint pain, and skin problems.
  • Gin-no-yu: This bathhouse is fed by the Ginsen spring, also known as the “Silver Spring”. The water is clear and rich in radium and carbonate. It’s referred to as “silver” due to its clear, colorless appearance. The water from this spring is said to be beneficial for muscle pain, nerve pain, and digestive problems.
  • Taiko no Yu: This is the largest hot spring facility in Arima Onsen. It offers a variety of baths, including the unique carbonated spring bath and the radium spring bath. The facility also has a restaurant and a relaxation room, making it a perfect place to unwind.
  • Arima Toys and Automata Museum: This museum is a delightful place for families. It houses a collection of toys and automata from around the world. The museum aims to bring joy and wonder to children and adults alike. More details
  • Zuihoji Park: This park is a perfect place to enjoy the natural beauty of Arima Onsen. The park is known for its beautiful autumn leaves. It’s a great place to take a leisurely stroll and enjoy the serene atmosphere. More details
  • Rokko-Arima Ropeway: This ropeway connects Mt. Rokko and Arima Onsen. It offers a spectacular view of the surrounding area. The ride takes about 12 minutes, and it’s a great way to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Rokko mountain range. More details
  • Rokko Garden Terrace: Located at the top of Mt. Rokko, close to the Rokko-Arima Ropeway Station, this terrace offers a panoramic view that extends from the Akashi Strait to the Osaka Plain. It’s a perfect place to enjoy a meal or a cup of coffee while taking in the breathtaking view. More details

Where to Eat

Arima Onsen offers a variety of dining options that cater to different tastes. From traditional Japanese cuisine to more casual fare, there’s something for everyone. Here are a few recommendations:


Kutsurogiya is a charming eatery set in a refurbished single-family home, offering a tranquil, traditional Japanese dining experience. The restaurant is particularly famous for its “kamameshi,” a type of Japanese pilaf. Prepared with mountain vegetables and fresh sea bream from Awaji Island, the kamameshi is a flavorful delight that has won the hearts of many visitors.

The restaurant also serves steamed Kobe beef, which is a must-try. The beef is juicy and satisfying, making it a perfect complement to the kamameshi. However, due to its popularity, you might find yourself waiting for over an hour to get a seat. But rest assured, the delicious food and the serene ambiance make the wait worthwhile. Dining at Kutsurogiya is indeed a memorable culinary experience that adds to the charm of a visit to Arima Onsen.

Dosanjin Soba

Dosanjin Soba is a must-visit for noodle lovers. They use carefully selected buckwheat purchased directly from contract farmers and make their own dipping sauce using the second mold wear of dried bonito. This meticulous process brings out the full flavor of the buckwheat, allowing visitors to enjoy soba with all five senses.

Each of these eateries offers a unique taste of Arima Onsen’s culinary scene, making a visit a gastronomic adventure to remember.


ARIMA BREWERY is a haven for beer and sake lovers. Known for its freshly brewed sake, locally produced wines, and the popular Arima Cider, the brewery offers a unique experience. The highlight is the bar counter, where visitors can enjoy a chilled beer straight from the large tank. The wide selection of drinks and the opportunity to taste freshly brewed sake have earned high praise from visitors.

Café De Beau

Café De Beau is a charming café known for its unique breads. The ‘Tamba Black Bean Bread’, with sweet black beans kneaded into the dough, is a favorite among visitors for its soft texture. Another specialty is the ‘Sansho Bread’, a unique creation with Arima Sansho pickles and black sesame seeds, offering a mature flavor that pairs well with wine.

Takenaka Meat Shop

Takenaka Meat Shop is a must-visit for meat lovers. Specializing in domestic black beef and Kobe beef, this shop has been serving the Kansai region for over 80 years. Visitors can enjoy a variety of Kobe beef dishes, including beef croquettes, Kobe beef skewers, and Kobe beef bowls. The shop’s most popular item, the ‘Croquette’, sells about 1,000 pieces a day!

Arima gelateria Stagione

arima gelateria Stagione is popular for its authentic gelato made fresh daily in the shop. They use milk sourced from Rokko dairy farmers and fresh fruits, ensuring high-quality ingredients in every scoop.

Geiko Cafe Ito

Geiko Cafe Ito offers a unique cultural experience. Here, visitors can enjoy matcha, traditional Japanese sweets, and cakes while listening to stories from Geiko and Maiko. The cafe offers a friendly and relaxed atmosphere where visitors can learn about the traditional arts and even experience playing Japanese musical instruments.

Mitsumori Main Store

Mitsumori Main Store, a traditional Japanese confectionery shop, is famous for its ‘Carbonated Rice Crackers’. These crackers are made using Arima Onsen’s carbonated spring water, wheat flour, and sugar, resulting in a light and crispy texture. The shop also offers ‘Carbonated Manju’, a unique treat made with carbonated spring water and granulated sugar, filled with white bean paste and a refreshing yuzu flavor.

Yunohanado Honpo

Yunohanado Honpo offers the ‘Nama Carbonated Rice Cracker’. These crackers are freshly baked in the shop and have a shelf life of just 5 seconds! Visitors need to eat them quickly to enjoy the softness of the freshly baked crackers.

Don’t forget to try the local specialty, Arima Onsen Tansan Senbei. These carbonated rice crackers are a popular souvenir and can be found at various shops around town.

Suggested Itinerary

A 1-2 day trip to Arima Onsen could look something like this:

Day 1: Arrival and Exploration

  • Arrive in Arima Onsen via your chosen mode of transport. If you’re coming from Osaka, consider taking the Hankyu Bus from Hankyu Umeda Station (Google Maps Link). If you’re coming from Kyoto, take the Keihan Bus from Kyoto Station (Google Maps Link). Remember, no rail passes can be used on these buses.
  • After settling into your accommodation, start your exploration with a visit to the main street at Arima Onsen.
  • Next, take a leisurely stroll to Zuihoji Park, a beautiful park known for its stunning autumn leaves. It’s a perfect place to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of Arima Onsen.

Day 2: Rokko Mountain Adventure

  • Start your day with a ride on the Rokko-Arima Ropeway. This scenic ride offers breathtaking views of Kobe and Osaka Bay. The Ropeway Station is conveniently located near Arima Onsen (Google Maps Link).
  • Once you reach the top, explore the Rokko Garden Terrace. Located close to the Ropeway Station, this area offers panoramic views, dining options, and shops. It’s a great place to spend a few hours, enjoy a meal, and take in the scenery.
  • After descending the mountain, spend the rest of your day at leisure in Arima Onsen. Consider visiting one of the many public baths or enjoying a private onsen experience at your ryokan.

Day 3: Cultural Immersion and Departure

  • On your final day, immerse yourself in the local culture by visiting the Geiko Cafe Ito. Here, you can enjoy a traditional tea ceremony performed by a Geiko (Geisha) and learn about their art and lifestyle.
  • Before leaving Arima Onsen, make sure to stop by the Arima Onsen Taiko-no-yu. This public bathhouse offers a variety of baths, including the unique “Gold Spring” and “Silver Spring”.
  • Finally, head back to your departure city via bus. Remember to check the bus schedules for your return trip.

Additional Tips

Here are some tips to make your visit to Arima Onsen more enjoyable:

  • Best Time to Visit: Arima Onsen can be visited year-round, but it’s particularly beautiful in autumn when the leaves change color. The winter season also offers a unique experience as you can soak in the hot springs while surrounded by snow.
  • What to Bring: Bring a towel and toiletries for the hot springs. Most ryokan provide yukata (casual summer kimono) that you can wear around town.
  • Local Customs: When using the public bathhouses, remember to wash yourself thoroughly before entering the baths. It’s also customary to tie up long hair to keep it out of the water.


Arima Onsen is a timeless retreat that offers a unique blend of relaxation, history, and culture. Whether you’re soaking in the therapeutic hot springs, exploring the charming town, or indulging in the local cuisine, Arima Onsen promises a memorable experience. So, why wait? Consider Arima Onsen as a must-visit destination on your next trip to Japan.


  1. Arima Onsen Official Website (English)
  2. Arima Onsen Official Website (Japanese)
  3. Rokko-Arima Ropeway Information (English)
  4. Rokko Garden Terrace Information (English)
  5. Japan National Tourism Organization (English)

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