Ah! A sound of bliss, and yet, I screamed something closer to ‘AH!’ when I dipped my toe into my very first onsen in Kinosaki. Haha! I should’ve known. Onsen are hot spring baths, after all, but I’m American, I’m foolish, and I’ve been in hot tubs before. Yeah… hot tubs don’t come CLOSE to the heat of water straight from a Japanese hot spring. Youch!
Was it peaceful? Yes. Was it soothing? Yes. Was it worth the time and experience? Yes! It was an absolutely amazing experience, but I quickly realized just how foolish I was. I had this idea of spending an hour just simmering in one of the seven onsen that Kinosaki is known for before wandering down to another and soaking a while longer. >.> Yeah… I made it 15 minutes in one onsen and that was pushing it. I felt so light-headed when I got out that I made sure to hydrate and take quite a large break before trying my second onsen.
Good thing Kinosaki is known not only for it’s seven onsen, but also it’s amazing scenery. It sits right on a canal that leads into the ocean and has a gorgeous waterway weaving along main street. In fact, all the onsen are just off of this river. Thus, it was quite easy to keep on point and not get lost (for those that are directionally challenged because I know quite a few of those people. :p )
There are also lots of other little touristy things off of this main river including lots of little shops to buy omyage(souvenirs), restaurants, and TONS of shops to buy ice cream. It is the best way to cool down, after all, and with the seven onsens, it’s a perfect treat. In fact, a nice Japanese man bought me matcha soft-serve ice cream one night and we chatted outside one of the onsen. It was so much fun. Japanese people are so nice!One of the other cool things along the main water way was this stone. It’s a stone that pours out hot spring water and while fenced off, many people stuck their hands against the rock to feel the hot spring water. This rock is also where a little shop gathers water to fill a wooden box that customers boil eggs in. It was a very cool arrangement. You can buy 3 or 5 eggs and hang them in a mesh bag in the water and boil them to eat.
Even by night, this little town is gorgeous. Though all the shops have closed up and the onsen are the only thing open until 11pm, lights come to life all along the main waterway in the city. The lanterns glow pink while the street lamps glow a green or yellow depending on the part of the town. It was so picturesque.
Yet, one of the things I didn’t realize was all the shops in this town close up for dinner. Say what?! You heard me right! Between 5:00-7:30pm all the restaurants close because most of the guests (outside of me… -.-) are eating traditional Japanese dinner at their hotel or ryokan because this is part of the experience. However, due to price, I chose to just get the traditional Japanese breakfast, not dinner. Aka… I had to buy dinner at Family Mart. *sigh* Worst okonomiyaki I’ve ever had, but you live and you learn. :p