Was riding on a Limited Express Train to reach my next destination: Kinosaki Onsen. Felt a bit unsure, i enjoyed such a great weather in Kyoto and the cherry blossom season was blooming on top and now i saw nothing else but clouds gathering and rain drops on the train’s window. Well, lets see – time to move.
Ok. Arrived. Valley, superclose to the sea, rain. Sun. Rain. Sun. Rainy sun again. Crazy like an old women hahahaha. So in the first 30 minutes i found out the weather is changing as quick as i breath so when its sunny still dont forget your umbrella home (there are plenty of umbrellas on the street infrontof the shops u can borrow, just like bikes in nordic countries). Annoying? Absolutely not. The place is heavenly. Picturesque every corner. Tiny little town – as my Lonely Planet says, in 20 minutes u can walk thru.
Very true. Tiny river divides the place into 2, its almost disgustingly romantic and have a feeling to throw up because of the beauty and prettiness whats shows up from everywhere. Sakura trees posing next to the river what flows by the main road. Lots of tourist packed into this little treasure box destination – and the main reason is not the crazy weather but the 7 Natural Onsens. I mentioned onsens before in Nozawa, onsen is a natural spring bath with hot water containing lots of minerals good for health in general. Well, this little village is full of this water but here u need to pay for it – price is not insane. Each place cost between 600-800yen to enter but u can buy a daily pass for 1200yen which allows u to use any of them for unlimited time (for a day obviously – daily pass lol). As soon as i arrived experienced the picture what Lonely Planet made me imagine – people are just hanging around on the streets in their Yukatas and getas (simple kimono and wooden sandal) walking from one onsen to the other. Looking freakin cool. Even in rain (they might have an umbrella) and cold, as the warm water seems like a great solution for tough weather conditions.
Didnt take too long to find my accomodation – this time i went for something real – my first ‘ryokan’* experience. Called Kinosaki Wakayo Women Guesthouse (sorry women only lol) and the price was exactly doubled than before – for 2 nights i paid 14500yen. But worth every single penny having my own massive room, tatami, own air conditioning and finally was sleeping alone without anyone snoring or climbing down from the bed in every 5 minutes. Was awesome! An old lady let me leave my backpack indoor and i started to explore this wild romantic jewelery box town.
*footnote: ryokan is a typical Japanese Inn where the rooms are tatami-matted, bath is communal and everyone is hanging out in those awesome yukatas.
Walking in the rain discovered that the spring water also enjoyable other ways – u can find ‘foot bath’ near onsens, where people just sit with their bare feet resting in the hot water. Also u can find special wells with pretty cheramic pots so u can drink the onsen water. I did try obviously, was nice warm in the wety weather , unexpectedly salty like seawater. Saying its good for the digestion system.
Also there are funny little pools where u can cook your ‘onsen egg’. This is a ritual, u can buy normal eggs in little plastic net and just hang them in the water to cook it – these pools warmer than the bath. Its fun, u have a sign how long u need to leave your eggs in the water to reach ‘onsen stage’, soft boil then hard boil (11,14,20 minutes). Grab a beer and eat eggs. LOL.
So this place is popular for the Onsens, the local beer and sake (water is incredibly clean), the small funicular ride (cant find words when u see the view) and the SNOW CRAB. Permitted to fishing only in winter between November and January (female) or March (male). U can not miss this creature – every second shop is a fishmonger and sooner or later u will bump into a giant crab climbing on the side of one of the restaurants.
Its not really a surprise what i was planning for a meal right? Lunch it! I picked a place what Lonely Planet suggested, called Okesho – well famous for its ‘kani’ specialities (kani = snow crab) – but even there is a crab winks to you from every corner – the price is still very high. So i didnt go for the most famous and popular Kani menu with kani ‘everyway’ (from 3000-5000yen). Instead i got the barley porridge with crab meat, miso soup and pickles. No regrets, around 1000yen.
footnote: if u see ‘ XY menu’ in any restaurant, it always means that u have more food to come than just the main plate u pick – most common is a bowl of miso soup and tsukemono – but depending on the local specialities.
After lunch was walking a bit more in the rain and visited lots of pretty craft shops with local booze – amazing local beers (there is a #pub# where u can try most of the local beers all in tap) and sake, special local sweets and the famous best tajima beef (steamed bun yumyum). More tourist ‘everythinginnit’ shops and crab fishmongers every corner.
I discovered a bit more the outside skirt of this tiny village (Honjuji Temple, Shishojinja Shrine, Renjouji Temple etc), was planning to climb up to the highest point – i completed half way to see Onsenji Temple but was too dark already to keep climbing in a mountain forest. Postponed it for next day with the funicular. Hopp Hopp.
On the way back home bought a pretty bottle of local sake what i was planning to enjoy by myself in MY and only MY ROOM where I WAS SLEEPING ALONE for thanks Jesus Maria finally. Making my tatami bed. Hehehehe.
The hosts ladies were very sweet, i think they do speak more english what they show – however looking f’ckin cool with their intelligent translator dictaphone using for every single conversation. They were lovely anyway and were very very keen on my hair and tattoos. So yes, i guess i made some new friends. Again.