Memory of Arima

Cultural Experiences to Inspire Families

Written by Carol Lin
30 January 2015

Osaka and Kobe are located so close to each other that you can hop on a Hankyu bus that will take you directly from Osaka to Arima in no time. If you have a 5-day holiday, why not plan a relaxing family onsen trip to Osaka and Arima?

There are approximately 30 hotels in Arima, with the Arima Grand Hotel being one of the largest onsen resorts. The hotel provides a variety of services and features numerous facilities, meeting the needs of tourists of all ages. As the Arima Grand Hotel is located on a small rise of land, guests can enjoy the magnificent view of the mountains and clouds of Settsu and Tamba as they rest their minds, bodies, and souls in the open-air onsen located on the top floor.

  • photo_by_Satomaro

After leaving your bags at the hotel, why not tour the streets of the onsen area? Coming to the Yumotozaka shopping street , you can’t miss the most famous landmark Kin no Yu as one of the original locations in Arima Onsen. There are two public bath houses in Arima, Kin no Yu and Gin no Yu. Outside Kin no Yu, you can find a gourd-shaped tap which provides local spring water for drinking, and a free foot bath for those who are looking for a simple and quick onsen experience.

Located opposite of Kin no Yu is a 6-storey building which houses the extraordinary Arima Toys & Automata Museum. Floors 3 to 6 house exhibitions centered on 4 different themes and has the world class collection of automata, including tea-serving dolls invented in Edo period.. These span a wide range of categories, including traditional wooden toys from Eastern Europe, contemporary puzzle toys, intriguing mechanical toys, retro tin toys, and model railways. Noteworthy, the museum consists of over 4000 pieces from the European toys collection The first director of the museum was also an automata artist, and he collected beautiful automata art pieces from automata artists all over the world. This large variety of toys is sure to bring out the child in you. The first floor features a toy classroom that allows parents and their children to interact and let their creative minds run wild through workshops. The second floor offers kid’s meals created from a wholesome selection of local ingredients. The museum is the best place for parents to bond with their children, and it also perfectly represents the profound relationship between Arima and western culture.

If you enjoy exploring with a map, do consider taking the trails of Arima. Arima onsen consists of 7 original springs, and several temples and shrines related to the springs. Following the map, after passing Gokuraku-ji and Nenbutsu-ji (temples), you will arrive at the landmark of Arima, Onsen-ji (temple) and the History museum of Arima onsen, Taiko-no-yudonokan, which includes the siplays of Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s bath. Fans of Japan’s warring states period will be able to appreciate this historical site, which is connected to Toyotomi Hideyoshi. You can also learn about the culture and history of the 1300 year old Arima Onsen. Tosen-jinjya(shrine), also known as Kodakara (baby blessing), is perfect for parents to visit and pay their respect as the shrine offers blessings for the well-being of children and safe pregnancies. You can also purchase an amulet to bless your child.

ne often overlooked attraction in Arima is fishing. Walking just 10 minutes from the Arima Onsen streets will take you to the Arima Rainbow Trout Fishing pond, surrounded by mountains and trees. The pond is brimming with koi, carp, and trout, making it suitable for even the most beginner fishing enthusiast. After fishing, you can enjoy your catch grilled or fried. You can also visit a shrine of love, where many couples pray for love after their trout fishing. The shrine is a play of words since the pronunciations of the words “鯉”(carp) and “恋”(love) in Japanese are homonyms (both being pronounced “koi”).

During the summer holidays, the Arima water park holds an annual summer festival., visitors can enjoy the lively celebratory atmosphere with their families. As they head towards the park, visitors walk through streets lined with various vendors and game booths. The experience is truly one-of-a-kind and unforgettable.

The next morning, you can head towards Rokko Mountain for your next adventure. The cable car from Arima Onsen to Rokko Mountain is the longest in Japan. Gliding across 5km of mountain ridges in 12 minutes, the cable car arrives at the top of Rokko Mountain surrounded by endless seas of trees, 880m above sea level. You can enjoy the transition to fall as the autumn maple leaves color the mountain ridges a magnificent red.

Mount Rokko National Park features various recreational facilities, including:Rokko Garden Terrace, where you can dine and shop; Rokko Country House and Rokko Field Athletic, camping and outdoor activity areas popular during summer; Rokko Snow Park; and Rokko International Musical Box Museum and Rokko Alpine Botanical Garden, attractions suitable for all seasons. The National Park facilitates the interaction between parents and their children in a breathtaking outdoor setting.

There is also an alternate route to Rokko Mountain that recalls a time before transportation had become as comfortable and convenient as it is today. Named Totoya Michi, these mountain trails were historically used by fishmongers when they transported fresh fish from the port. Today, it is common to meet mountaineer enthusiasts on the trail. But don’t worry! The trail is not very steep, making the hike not particularly difficult.

Before you head home, you can purchase some souvenirs, like rice crackers or soda, along the onsen streets. A selection of simmered dishes from the Kawakami Shoten, including simmered Arima salamanders, kelp, and matsutake are highly recommended for mothers. These ingredients are simmered with soy sauce over the traditional firewood stove, giving them the classic Arima flavors that have been passed down over many generations. The matsutake and kelp, exclusive to and the oldest staples of Arima, have been adored by visitors for hundreds of years.

If you decide to continue your journey after leaving Arima, you can head to Kobe Harborland, Himeji Castle (a world heritage site and one of the 3 biggest castles in Japan), or Universal Studios Osaka. These places are perfect for one-day visits.

A two-day trip to this historic and charming town will provide you with an exceptional onsen paradise experience filled with creativity, culture and outdoor activities. Together with the fun times spent with your loved ones, this is sure to be a memorable family vacation.