Hot Springs of a Lifetime in Kinosaki Onsen {Japan Travel}

March 13, 2017

Hot Springs of a Lifetime in Kinosaki Onsen (Japan Travel)

“Can I wrap myself with a towel?” I thought to myself.

When I said this out loud in my head, naked women strolled by me. I peeped over as they walk. I didn’t want to be perceived as a pervert. But I realized I'm only allowed to bring a face cloth with me to the public shower before heading out to the Japanese hot springs. With much awkwardness, I headed back into the ladies’ room and got rid of my last bit of security.

If you're wondering just what on earth did we get ourselves into, then continue on to read about our experience in these Japanese hot springs.

Hot Springs of a Lifetime in Kinosaki Onsen (Japan Travel)

Hot Springs of a Lifetime in Kinosaki Onsen (Japan Travel)
Japanese bath hopping in their beautiful yukatas in Kinosaki Onsen

Hot Spring Resort Town – Kinosaki Onsen

It was at Kinosaki Onsen, a popular hot spring sanctuary where we got our first dip at this bathing culture. As part of our honeymoon trip, I wanted the hubs and I to get pampered and relaxed. It took about 3 hours via the bullet train (one of the fastest trains in the world!) to get there from Osaka Station. It was the most comfortable train ride ever. Not only that the train was fast, smooth and spacious, the view was amazing to look at!

Japanese love their natural hot springs for a lot of good reasons. They claimed that the water was magical! Because the natural minerals could cure a lot of health issues such as stiff muscles and pain, improve digestive problems and soften skins! Hence, many locals love spending their time here as a relaxation getaway.

Hot Springs of a Lifetime in Kinosaki Onsen (Japan Travel)

Superior Service and Suite at Yuraku Kinosaki Spa & Gardens

We arrived on a quiet Thursday afternoon. And that meant fewer people to photobomb our pictures at this beautiful town! We grabbed some quick bites in the old-fashioned looking town just before checking in at our Ryokan – traditional Japanese inn with woven straw mat (known as tatami).

We could feel the superior customer service as soon as we entered Yuraku Kinosaki Spa & Gardens. Not only there was a shuttle bus to get us from and to the train station, but their concierge lady also spoke in Mandarin! So, I had no trouble communicating with her. The bell boy escorted us to take the elevators up to our room while he ran 3 floors with our heavy loaded bags. Yet, he still managed to appear in front of us when the doors opened without breaking a sweat! I always knew Japanese perform one of the top customer services but this just had us blown away!

Let’s talk about the room! I should call it a suite because it was huge, equipped with two private toilets, a great size dining area and a living room that you could separate from a sliding door! As a kid, I was always into these traditional tatami rooms. And there was no bed, only a thin mattress (futon) on the tatami for you to sleep on. So unique. I love it! And the best part? Definitely the balcony looking out to the exquisite garden view!

Yuraku Kinosaki Spa & Garden - Hot Springs of a Lifetime in Kinosaki Onsen (Japan Travel)

Yuraku Kinosaki Spa & Garden - Hot Springs of a Lifetime in Kinosaki Onsen (Japan Travel)Yuraku Kinosaki Spa & Garden - Hot Springs of a Lifetime in Kinosaki Onsen (Japan Travel)
Every visitor must change into their Yukatas provided by their Ryokans before heading out to the hot springs

Bath Hopping to 7 Public Hot Springs!

With our stay at any Ryokan in Kinosaki Onsen, we also got a free pass to sample all 7 other public hot springs. I was beyond excited because this was a must-do activity in this famous hot spring resort town!

We got into our Yukata (Japanese style bath rope) provided by our Ryokan and began our first bath hopping experience. The hot springs were not shared between both men and women so at least that was a relief! Hubby was smart enough to do his homework about its etiquette before coming here. Whereas, I thought I could wing it since I grew up reading Japanese manga…

But, when I got into the change room, I saw ladies of all sizes stripped down to nada and showered together in the bath area. I didn't know if I could hide myself in a towel. I creeped into a side corner and started to lather myself up with soap like all others. Because everybody needed to shower and rinse before entering the hot spring. It was also a good manner to cover the stool with the bucket to imply that you’re done.

Outdoor hot spring of Yuraku Kinosaki Spa & Garden
Outdoor hot spring of Yuraku Kinosaki Spa & Garden

I approached my first outdoor hot spring and sat among all other naked bodies. The hot spring was built by natural stones and surrounded by greenery. I could even hear crickets chirping too! An experience very down to earth. To be honest though, I was a little taken aback by the blatant nakedness at first. I didn’t know where I should look at. But after soaking in and absorbing the goodness of nature, I felt relaxed and could care less about these strangers. I won’t be seeing them again anyway. Each natural hot spring offered a unique setting and atmosphere so it was great that we got to try them out.

Hot Springs of a Lifetime in Kinosaki Onsen (Japan Travel)

Hot Springs of a Lifetime in Kinosaki Onsen (Japan Travel)

Hot Springs of a Lifetime in Kinosaki Onsen (Japan Travel)
The streets were filled with the clopping sound of these wooden clogs

14-Course Mega Feast in Our Room

Besides bath hopping and strolling around town in wooden clogs, the feast provided by our Ryokan was a true definition of fine-dining! Our room reservation included dinner and breakfast so we didn’t have to worry about food at all.

The hostess set up the tables inside our room at the time we requested for each meal. And she laid out each course like a piece of art! There was too much food that she had to come back to serve us a second round! Even though, there were as many as 14 courses, the truth was some of the portions were meant to be bite-size.

The highlight was definitely the giant crab legs and the tender Tajima beef served two ways (grilled steak and shabu shabu)!!! I'm still thinking about them! So delicious!

14-course Dinner in Yuraku Kinosaki Spa & Garden - Hot Springs of a Lifetime in Kinosaki Onsen (Japan Travel)

Dinner in Yuraku Kinosaki Spa & Garden - Hot Springs of a Lifetime in Kinosaki Onsen (Japan Travel)

Dinner in Yuraku Kinosaki Spa & Garden - Hot Springs of a Lifetime in Kinosaki Onsen (Japan Travel) Abalone!
Breakfast in Yuraku Kinosaki Spa & Garden - Hot Springs of a Lifetime in Kinosaki Onsen (Japan Travel)Breakfast in room the next morning!

Private Open-Air Flower Bath as a Newlywed

Because this was part of our honeymoon, I really wanted to add some romantic flare to the trip. And since men and women were separated in the pubic hot springs, we couldn't enjoy them together as a newlywed.

Good thing was our Ryokan offered 3 different private open-air baths on-site with a different theme for each. There was a flower bath, apple bath and an orange bath. Sounds exotic, right? I’m going to leave the rest of the details out but can you guess which bath we used?

Private open-air flower bath at Yuraku Kinosaki Spa & Garden - Hot Springs of a Lifetime in Kinosaki Onsen (Japan Travel)Private open-air flower bath at Yuraku Kinosaki Spa & Garden - Hot Springs of a Lifetime in Kinosaki Onsen (Japan Travel)

Now that I’m writing this post, it makes me miss our trip at Kinosaki Onsen more. It did take some courage to be able to get completely bare skinned in front of other strangers. But one of the best part about travelling for me at least, is that I get to experience and learn about other cultures. And the hot spring tradition is a huge part of the Japanese culture. I could not miss this chance at all after so many visits to Japan!

Learn more about Japanese hot springs etiquette:

  1. Remove and leave your shoes at the entrance before entering the hot spring. The front of the shoes must be facing the entrance so remember to turn them over.
  2. Enter the correct change room (females change room have red curtains, males room have blue curtains)
  3. Take off your clothes completely and store them in the locker. No bathing suit allowed.
  4. Bring only the face cloth with you to the hot spring. Leave the large towel in the locker.
  5. You must shower and rinse free of soap before entering the hot spring.
  6. Most baths provide a small stool and a bucket in the shower area, it's a courtesy to return the stool and bucket to its original form after you're done.
  7. Do not let the face cloth touch the water in the hot spring. You could put it on your head or let it sit outside of the hot spring.
  8. Of course, do not peek through partitions to see other gender's bathing area
  9. Be respectful of noises you make in the hot spring especially when having a conversation to keep volume down.
  10. You must wipe off excess water before re-entering the locker room.
  11. Photography is not allowed.
  12. Tattoos are not allowed.

Have you tried Japanese bath? Let me know what you think!

Pin this for later!
Kinosaki Onsen - Japan - Hot springs of a lifetime and etiquettes

Check out my other posts from my Honeymoon trip in Japan!

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  1. Oh wow, I feel relaxed just having read about this and seeing your beautiful photos. It really does sound like a lovely experience :) Thanks for linking up with us, happy to have found your blog!

  2. I love the idea of bath hopping! Sounds really relaxing and freeing, even if a little awkward at the start..

    1. Yes indeed! I'm not sure if it's more awkward to do with people you know or people you don't know...

  3. What an incredible experience to have on your honeymoon! You look beautiful and relaxed and your sushi feast has made me very hungry. I am so glad I dont have any tattoos! Imagine missing out because of that! Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

    1. aww Thanks Katyc! I have friends who wanted to try the hot springs in Japan but weren't able to for that reason :( Apparently, people in Japan see tattoos as some kind of association with gangsters and other illegal associations.

  4. Wow! Just wow! This would be dream come true for me! I have always wanted to try an onsen and feel like a local Japanese (just like what I see in animes and mangas). You are making me so jealous!!!

    The Pink Lemonade Girl

    1. Thanks Jen! I grew up reading manga and anime as well, so I know exactly what you mean! It was like finally get to partake in those scenes I saw in Ranma 1/2

  5. This sounds so amazing! Hot springs and lots of delicious feasting sound like my kind of heaven. Thanks for sharing this on #FarawayFiles What an incredible honeymoon treat.

    1. Thanks! It was sure one of our memorable highlights!

  6. That's such a useful post - I'm not sure I'd know what to do. Sounds an amazing experience as well.

    1. Thanks Cathy! I should have done my homework before this trip but I guess that adds to a great story to tell, right ;)

  7. There are many places in Scandinavia where naked bathing is allowed and they have similar rules as to washing and etiquette. This is such a beautiful environment and I with you until the little note at the end - no tattoos? Uh oh. Thank you for sharing your experience with #FarawayFiles, Erin

    1. Thanks Erin! I'd love to try out those baths in Scandinavia someday in the near future. They don't allow tattoos because Japan see tattoos as some kind of association with gangsters and other illegal associations, unfortunately.

  8. What an amazing experience! I love Japan and am hoping to get back asap! I'm wondering, what about children? How old do you need to be? Are there places you can visit where tattoos are allowed? #farawayfiles

    1. As far as I know, toddlers are welcomed and you could take them to opposite gender bathrooms accompanied by the proper gender adult. Tattoos are a taboo mark in Japanese public onsens, but I'd recommend checking out some Ryokans that offer private onsen on-site where you and your family could enjoy together :)


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About Me

About [span]me[/span]
Hello, my name is Lorita. This is a journal of my personal style, travel adventures, food excursions, recipe experiments, DIY tutorials and every little thing in life.