When you talk about the oldest and most famous hot spring in Japan, it has to be Arima Onsen. If you plan to have a little trip with the rest of your girls, why not plan a relaxing hot spring trip? Starting from Kyoto, it’ll only take half an hour to Kobe using the Shinkansen (bullet train), after another half an hour after changing trains in Kobe city, you’ll find yourself at the Arima Onsen Station.
Once you walk down the main street of the Arima Onsen area, a ryokan called Taketoritei Maruyama will await you on a slightly high hill with a soft, yet noticeable aura. Inspired by the Tale of the Princess Kaguya (Taketori Monogatari), the hotel is most proud of its hospitality, making their guests feel like Princess Kaguya from the tale. The girls will be excited once they realize that they will receive a yukata (casual style kimono) after checking in. During the summer, they will be able to choose their yukata from among different colors and patterns. The wide, comfortable Japanese room allows you to enjoy total relaxation.
After you have checked in, take a walk along the nature trail and enjoy lunch in the hot spring district. If you want to try out the local cuisine from a traditional cafeteria, then the curry udon noodles with beef tendon from Misono, is definitely your first choice. Want something lighter? Then the Dosanjin soba restaurant is another option that the girls will like with its perfect blend of nostalgia and modern design.
As you step into the Yumotozaka shopping street, you’ll find traditional Edo-style wooden buildings constructed hundreds of years ago. You can't say you’ve been to Arima Onsen, until you buy the most famous specialty, the carbonated crackers (Tansansenbei). Ganso Mitsumori Honpo, the oldest Tansansenbei brand, uses the carbonated hot spring water from Arima as an ingredient, with no other additional butter, eggs, or food additives, making it totally natural and healthy. The light gold cracker has a symbolic Chinese character printed on it, and you won’t be able to stop yourself from eating one after another once you taste its natural sweetness. The old-fashioned cylinder-shaped can is also another reason why tourists can’t buy enough.
Arima Kago, a traditional bamboo handicraft shop founded in the 15th century, or the Azuchi-Momoyama Period, has won the Outstanding Performance Award at the World Exposition. Its products were highly favored by Toyotomi Hideyoshi (a general of Sengoku period) , and Sen no Rikyu (legendary tea master). The only manufacturer of the bamboo crafts, Arima Kago factory called Kutsuwa, is located right at Arima Onsen. Take a tour around and observe the manufacturing floor that generations of professionals have been using for centuries. Arima Kago manufactures not only bamboo handicrafts but also the tea tools and flower vases that are extremely important to the Japanese tea culture. As the years progressed, Arima Kago blended its traditional skills into modern life, and developed countless living ware items such as shopping baskets with leather handles, picnic baskets, lunch boxes, and tableware. These convenient yet classy living ware items are loved by the girls, who will want to take all of them home with them.
There are a lot of things to do as you walk down the Yumotozaka shopping street. You can shop for some shoes or accessories while eating delicious crepes, choose your souvenirs or just take a pleasant walk with your friends. Don’t forget to enjoy your afternoon tea time. The popular Doukatei is a store that is housed in a renovated old shop from the Showa Period, which offers handmade organic dishes. Other things that girls may enjoy together include local tea Moushicha from the Tanba countryside area, homemade lemon drinks with brown sugar, or hand dripped coffee, all of which are excellent with the fresh snacks that are made daily.
When the sun starts to set, you might want to take a walk to the most famous fall foliage spot in Arima Onsen, Zuihou-ji Park. There is no temple at Zuihou-ji Park despite its name. It was the original location of Zuihou-ji Temple from the Meiji Period, but was converted into a park by the Kobe city government. It’s not a large park, but with plenty of greenery. Toyotomi Hideyoshi used to love this area, and was said that he kept the stone chinese chess board. You can enjoy the beautiful fall foliage during autumn as lovely red leaves that fill the sky above you welcome you as you step through the gates for Zuihou-ji. The Foliage holds tea parties every November, allowing you to enjoy this wonderful experience handed down for centuries.
As it starts to become dark, you can go back to Taketoritei Maruyama to enjoy the mouth-watering dishes the chef has prepared for you. After you’ve finished dinner, now comes the climax of the trip, the hot spring! Taketoritei offers personal reserved roten-buro (open-air baths). Feel free to enjoy the “Kinsen (golden hot spring)” and “Ginsen (silver hot spring)” of Arima Onsen at once. The Kinsen contains an abundance of iron to warm up the bather's body and add suppleness to their skin, while the transparent Ginsen eases joint and muscle pain. Enjoy both springs at once to wash away all the stress from city life and savor this miraculous night with your family or friends.
The next day, make sure you have a great breakfast before checking out. The ryokan offers free transportation to the station. If you feel like you’re not quite through with shopping, there is a Yoshitakaya, founded in the Meiji Period, right across Arima Onsen Station to fulfill all your needs. Discover Turtle Brand cosmetics developed by Yoshitakaya that include soap, masks, emulsions, creams, and moisturizer all made using Arima spring water, along with bath additives that let you enjoy Arima Onsen at home as well. These products are great as gifts, or for your own use.
Just because you’re back in Kobe city, it doesn’t mean you have to quit shopping! There are plenty of cool shops in Kobe’s Motomachi district, or you might want to try out Kyu-kyoryuchi district (the old foreign settlement) and shop for something more exotic. Last but not least, there are Kobe Sanda PREMIUM OUTLETS in Kobe. Plan a little trip with your friends and treat yourself once in a while. It’s always better to start a new day after you recharge and relax.