Arima Onsen (有馬温泉) is a famous hot spring town within the city limits of Kobe, but on the opposite side of Mount Rokko from the city center. The town lies in a natural mountain setting, yet is close enough for Kobe and Osaka residents as an easy and popular day trip or weekend getaway.
Although Arima Onsen has a modern look today and is pretty built up, one can still find several narrow lanes and wooden buildings when strolling around the center of town. Due to its compact size, the small town can be explored entirely on foot, and there are several hot spring sources, nice temples and shrines and a small hot spring museum (200 yen) to be discovered.
With a history of over one thousand years, Arima Onsen is considered one of Japan's oldest hot spring resorts and has often stood at or near the top of onsen rankings for Western Japan. The town has two types of hot spring waters which spring up at various sources around town: the Kinsen ("gold water") is colored brown with iron deposits and is said to be good for skin ailments and muscle pain, while the clear Ginsen ("silver water") contains radium and carbonate and is said to cure various muscle and joint ailments.
Visitors to Arima Onsen can enjoy hot spring bathing at two public bath houses or at the town's many ryokan. Several ryokan open their baths also to non-staying visitors during the day. The admission fee for a daytrip visit to a bath typically ranges between 500 and 2500 yen.
Hot spring source
The following is a list of some hot spring baths around Arima Onsen that are open to day trip visitors:
Kin no Yu
Open: 8:00 to 22:00 (Admission ends at 21:30)
Closed: 2nd and 4th Tues each month (Wed if Tues is a holiday), Jan 1
Admission: 650 yen
Located at the center of town, Kin no Yu is the larger of Arima Onsen's two public bath houses. It features two indoor "gold" water baths of varying temperatures for each gender. Outside the bath house there are a free foot bath (ashiyu) and a drinking fountain fed by thermal waters.
Gin no Yu
Closed for renovations until summer 2015
Gin no Yu stands further back in the town, and is the smaller of Arima's two public bath houses. It has one large indoor bath for each gender, featuring the clear, "silver" water.
Taiko no Yu
Hours: 10:00 to 23:00 (entry until 22:00)
Closed: Small number or irregular closing days
Admission: 2400 yen (2600 yen on weekends and during holidays)
Part of the Arima View Hotel, the Taiko no Yu is a large modern hot spring facility, featuring a wide variety of indoor and outdoor baths filled with both of Arima's waters. It includes a replica of a historic bath found at the onsen museum, large pots and fragrant saunas. In addition, there are massage services, restaurants, shops and rest areas.
Daytime Hours: 11:00 to 14:00
Closed: Weekends and public holidays
Daytime Admission: 1620 yen
Overnight Stay: From 20,000 yen per person including 2 meals
Goshobo, one of Arima's oldest ryokan, opens its baths to non-staying guests during daytime. Its main baths are atmospheric indoor stone pools for each gender, filled with Arima Onsen's famed "golden" hot spring water.
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Get There and Around
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 740 yen from Shin-Kobe and 930 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 (using bus stop 1 on the map). The one way trip costs 700 yen and buses depart once or twice an hour. Alternatively, JR Bus operates about seven highway buses per day from Shin-Kobe Station (50 minutes) via Sannomiya Station (30 minutes) to Arima Onsen (using bus stop 2 on the map). The one way trip costs 770 yen, while a round trip ticket is available for 1440 yen. The Japan Rail Pass and other JR passes are not valid on any of these buses.
By direct bus from Osaka
Hankyu Bus and JR Bus operate one or two highway buses per hour from Hankyu Umeda Station or JR Osaka Station (60 minutes, 1370 yen) via Shin-Osaka Station (50 minutes, 1230 yen) to Arima Onsen. In Arima, Hankyu Bus uses bus stop 1 on the map, while JR Bus uses bus stop 2. The Japan Rail Pass and other JR passes are not valid on either bus.
By cablecar and ropeway via Mount Rokko
From Sannomiya Station, take the Hankyu Kobe Line to Rokko Station (7 minutes, 190 yen), from where it is a ten minute, 210 yen bus ride by Kobe City Bus number 16 to the base station of the Rokko Cablecar.
The cablecar ride up the mountain takes ten minutes and costs 590 yen one way or 1000 yen for a round trip ticket. From the top station, take the circular bus line to the top station of the Rokko Arima Ropeway (ten minutes, 260 yen), which brings you down to Arima Onsen (12 minutes, 1010 yen one way, 1820 yen round trip).
If you access Arima Onsen via Mount Rokko, you can save some money by using the "Rokko Arima Katamichi Joshaken" ticket, which includes a one way ride on the cablecar and ropeway plus unlimited use of the circular bus line on Mount Rokko for 1750 yen.