22 May 2010

Arima Onsen

On the second day of my 3 days Kansai Thru Pass, I decided to its furthest travelling distance it allows me to travel, Kobe / Arima Onsen.

Arima Onsen is not as easy as Nara to get to. It takes around 2.5 hour train ride from Kyoto, and change lines a couple of times. But I have been intoxicated by onsen from my last trip to Japan, and Funaoka Onsen alone was not enough to satisfy my urge.

From Wikitravel and Japan Guide, I learned that there are 2 ways to get to Arima Onsen:
  1. The fun & expensive way Via Mt. Rokko and then descend to Arima Onsen using ropeway.
  2. The cheap & easy way Using train from Kyoto (Hankyu Line) to Arima Onsen station.

View Kyoto to Arima Onsen by Train in a larger map

Heck, I have spent so much money & time to come all the way to Japan, why should I choose only one way? I decided to combine them! I took to the easy way to go to Arima, did sight seeing, soaked in onsen, and came back to Kyoto via Mt. Rokko.

I have made a detailed Google Map and separated it into 3 parts:
  • Kyoto to Arima Onsen station (by train on Hankyu Line)
  • Sightseeing in Arima Onsen
  • Arima Onsen to Kyoto via Mt. Rokko

Kyoto to Arima Onsen station (by train on Hankyu Line)

Kansai Thru Pass covers all expenses in this way. It’s a pretty darn good deal considering the distance between Kyoto & Arima Onsen. It’s difficult to explain by words, please refer to the map I made in Google Map.

Sightseeing in Arima Onsen
If you have booked an expensive onsen trip / package, chances are: there will be someone waiting for you at the train station. If you are on a budget like me, I would suggest Tourist Information Centre as your first stop.

It’s located just 5 minutes walk from the station. If you plan to go to Mt. Rokko, make sure you ask them the time table of the ropeway.

They have a very complete sightseeing map / brochure with all onsen, what to see in Arima, restaurant, etc. Download the English version of the map here.

I came to Arima onsen with 2 things in my mind, to try either the Gin-no-yu or Kin-no-yu onsen and to try Kobe (Wagyu) beef.

I arrived in Arima 3 hour before lunch time, so I walked around first, tried the free foot onsen...

Ate manju...

Japanese croquette...

And finally I soaked in Gin-no-yu. The best way to spend cold day is to soak in bloody damn hot onsen water.

Now is time to taste the wagyu beef. I found this kiosk or (restaurant?) while walking back to the bus stop.

Instead of Kobe / Wagyu beef, it’s selling “Tajima Beef”, with hand written explanation claiming Tajima Beef is the origin of all Kobe / Wagyu beef.

It's probably the most honest restaurant in Japan too, with this poster posted outside its door:

Anyway, I tried 2 stick of it’s Tajima Beef + rice for 1,000 yen. The taste doesn’t disappoint me.

Arima Onsen to Kyoto via Mt. Rokko
Kansai Thru Pass does not cover most of the cost in this. Bus (from Arima Onsen) to Mt.Rokko Ropeway station costs 100 yen.

I recommend buying a package ticket in the ropeway station which covers:
  • Ropeway to Rokko Sancho Station
  • Mt.Rokko bus
  • Cable train to go down from Mt.Rokko
After that, you can use Kansai Thru Pass again on the Train to Kyoto.
Refer to the map I made in Google Map.

When you reach Mt. Rokko, before you take the bus to cable train, I made my walk to Jukkoku Observatory, where I saw a scenic view of Kobe city harbor. Well that’s probably the reason why most people even bother forging extra yen to go up the mountain in the first place anyway.

Walk to the right sight of Mt. Rokko station, continue under the bridge, until you find your self in an open space with full view of Kobe city harbor below. The night view from here is breathtaking, but I did not wait until its dark because I chose not to miss my connection bus.

Refer to my Google Map for easier view of the route I took.


  1. Hi CL Vaughn, My family is planning to go to Arima Onsen on the 14th of May. Is the restaurant serving the "Tajima Beef" along the road of the free foot soak? Is it open for lunch and dinner?

  2. I've never been to Arima, but I've experienced authentic Japanese onsen in Aso Akamizu, Kumamoto. It's very close to Mount Aso, and it has this unbelievably relaxing water that flows from the volcano itself. When you go to Kumamoto, don't miss the hot springs.