Travel Japan: Arima: Time to Relax

Arima is a beautiful and quaint little mountainside town located behind Mt. Rokko. Only being a stone’s throw from Osaka and Kobe, it is a hidden oasis for Japanese people wanting to get away for a quiet, relaxing weekend. It’s an insolated place tucked away in the luminous landscape of the great outdoors and is a must see destination for all Hyogoians.

One can wander through the narrow streets of Arima among the old wooden buildings, getting lost in the narrow alleyways and exploring relics of old Japan. Stop and try some of the delicious street food that you encounter like the famous Arima crackers. While walking around, you will stumble upon manhole covers spewing steam in the ground, the smell of sulfur filling the air – but don’t be fearful, for that is the smell of relaxation.  Because of the small size of the town, it is entirely accessible by foot, making it convenient for those that don’t have a car or people who are bad with public transportation. If you get lost you will eventually know to turn around because streets will become narrower and narrower, until they disappear completely.

Arima’s most famous attractions are the hot springs that are one of the three oldest hot springs in Japan, with a recorded history going back to the year 631 AD. Its famous waters come in two distinct types. The Gold Spring, (Kinsen 金泉 ) is yellow-brown thanks to iron and salt, and it is supposed to be good for muscle pains and skin ailments. This water is actually potable and it is said to positively affect the digestive organs when drunk.  The Silver Spring, (Ginsen 銀泉 ) which is colorless, contains radium and carbonate and it said to cure various muscle and joint ailments. There are two main public bathhouses in town where one can enjoy the onsen experience. If this is not for you, try one of the many ryokans which also offer hot springs. The admission fees for the different onsen vary from 500-150 yen.

On the main street of the town is a bustling area full of delightful restaurants and souvenir shops. Visit the toy museum, which is filled with countless handmade toys from around the world, and children trying to get their hands on them. Just across the street is the always hot, and always crowded but free, foot bath which is great for soaking ones tired feet after walking about during the day. You can also check out the Hot Spring Museum, visit one of the many shrines and temples, or wander a few minutes to the waterfall close to the center of town.

Another fascinating part of Arima is all the people making things in their little shops on the street. Windows crowded with people gazing in, watching the artists create their masterpieces, unaffected, are the norm. Paint brush shops, Arima cracker shops and wood carving shops are just a few you might see in this town.

Whether you come for the beautiful leaves of fall, the snowy landscape of winter, the cherry blossoms of the spring, or the green foliage of summer, it is always a good time to visit this little mountain town.

By train

From Sannomiya or Shin-Kobe Station, take the subway to Tanigami Station (10-15 minutes, 4-5 departures per hour). Then, take the Shintetsu Arima-Sanda Line to Arima-guchi and transfer to the Arima Line to Arima Onsen Station (20 minutes, 4 departures per hour). The entire journey takes 30-40 minutes and costs 720 yen from Shin-Kobe and 900 yen from Sannomiya Station.

By direct bus from Kobe

Hankyu and Shinki Bus operate local buses from Sannomiya Station (50 minutes) via Shin-Kobe Station (35 minutes) to Arima Onsen. The one way trip costs 680 yen and buses depart once or twice an hour. Alternatively, Nishinihon JR Bus operates about seven highway buses per day from Shin-Kobe Station (50 minutes) via Sannomiya Station (30 minutes) to Arima Onsen. The one way trip costs 750 yen, while a round trip ticket is available for 1400 yen.

(Directions from Japan-Guide.com)

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