A brief vacation from my travels.
I took a leisurely 90-minute train ride from Kyoto to Kinosaki for some much needed rest and relaxation. Kinosaki is an Onsen, or hot spring town, which looks like a movie set from a Samurai historical drama.
This picturesque village offers traditional Ryokan lodging, each with free access to the seven public bath houses of Kinosaki. It also boasts a gorgeous canal lined with excellent restaurants and souvenir shops.
The hosting is very personal – much more like staying at your grandma’s for the weekend than a hotel. I was offered slippers for use in the hotel, a beautiful room with hot water at the ready for tea, and the yukata and wooden sandals worn for bathing.
At night as in the day, dozens of couples, families, and groups of pals can be seen walking along the canal, to and from the bathhouses in yukata and kimono.
The bathing experience itself is marvellous, and though somewhat complex, very relaxing. Each of the seven public baths available had different styles and offerings, but typical is an outdoor hot pool, multiple indoor hot and cold pools, seated shower stations for pre-bathing, hot water benches, and more.
Of all my travels through Japan, this is definitely the least-travelled by foreigners, and the most energizing.