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Catherine recently returned to Japan to spend some time exploring the city of Kobe and its vicinity. As part of her trip, she spent a night in lovely Arima Onsen – the perfect place to relax, unwind, and enjoy the Japanese countryside.
After several days of intensive sightseeing in Japan, there is nothing more relaxing than having a night or two in a traditional inn with a nice big hot spring bath to ease your aching muscles. For many, Hakone is the ideal location for this – but for those who are focusing their trip around Kyoto and not venturing towards Tokyo or the north, then Arima Onsen could be the perfect destination for you.
Tucked away in the hills close to Kobe and Osaka, Arima Onsen is one of the oldest hot spring resorts in Japan, and I visited for the first time in December. Bad jet lag had been the bane of the first half of my very busy trip, and I arrived in the town exhausted.
Getting to Arima Onsen by public transport was a bit of a challenge for my exhausted brain, but it was well worth the effort. I travelled by local bus from Nishinomiya Station, diligently following my Google maps instructions, and experiencing some fabulous views from the winding roads. But if I were to do the journey again, I would definitely take the train. From Shin-Kobe Station, Arima Onsen can be reached in 40 minutes with a change of trains at Tanigami Station.
After an incredibly warm welcome at the traditional inn where I was staying, I had time to venture to the onsen (hot spring bath) before dinner was served in my room. The women’s outdoor bath was up a steep outdoor staircase, but the climb was well worth it to sit in the large, warm pool surrounded on all sides by trees which were still tinged with red – it could not have been more relaxing. I just found myself wishing I had been there a few weeks earlier to see the autumn leaves in their full glory.
Relaxing in the onsen was lovely, but the highlight of my stay in Arima Onsen was the multi-course dinner that was served when I returned to my room. My kimono-clad attendant brought me course after course of delicious local cuisine, from deep-fried shrimp in a special almond batter to simmered daikon radish and monkfish liver, it was all delicious. And it was all very happily washed down with a glass or two of Japanese plum wine.
That night I slept all the way through the night for the first time in well over a week, and woke to enjoy the rest of my trip a whole new person. If only the same experience had been available in Bristol when I got home…
If you are planning a trip to Japan and would like to include a visit to Arima Onsen, have a chat with one of our travel consultants and they’ll work it into your plans.