Just 30 minutes away from the bustling city of Kobe lies Arima Onsen 有馬温泉, one of Japan’s oldest hotspring towns. Nestled away in a natural hillside setting, this is the perfect place to while away a leisurely day and relax in the curative mineral-rich waters of a ryokan in the evening.
Arima still sported verdant foliage accompanied by sunny days and blue skies in mid-September this year. While exploring the narrow backlanes in between traditional wooden buildings, we took every opportunity to escape the heat by ducking into little cafes for local beer and iced lattes, as well as savouring the much-lauded Arima gelato and cider. With many souvenir shops offering samples of the famous Tansan Senbei （炭酸せんべい）, which is a light cracker infused with the waters of the Ginsen (Silver Onsen), we invariably ended up with a huge stash of these crispy goodies to cart home.
The evening saw us being pampered with impeccable service at our lavish multi-course kaiseki dinner at Arima Kirari Hotel. Every course of the 10-course meal was a work of art and by the time we reached the mid-way point, we were stuffed.
However, to the onsen we must, even though we were suffering from food coma by then, as Arima is famed for its “Kinsen” 金泉 (Golden waters from the oxidation of the rich iron minerals) and “Ginsen” 銀泉 (Silver waters with traces of radium). Taiko no Yu, which is akin to a hotspring theme park with its 10 pools, is conveniently accessible for free for guests of Arima Kirari Hotel. The hotel also has its own onsen with a Kinsen and a Ginsen only for guests and these were less crowded so we headed there for a last dip before leaving the next day.
If you are in the Kansai area and need a respite from all the bright lights and excitement of the big cities, Arima Onsen might just be the panacea you are looking for.