Going to an onsen town – but not the onsen?

Kinosaki may be known for its public baths, but that is not all there is to do there. Many people come with the express purpose of visiting all seven public baths. And if we weren’t staying at an inn that provided meals we’d probably be exploring the restaurants. Well – we did check one out before our room was ready – the local brewery, which had great beer and food. And happened to be owned by the hotel we were staying at.

There is a ropeway (cable car) that will take visitors high above the town, with beautiful views. We wandered our way up the street along the river. Since our very large breakfast had lots of tea but no coffee we found a pleasant spot for a cup of coffee, then headed for the cable car.

Our previous trips to Japan have been in October and November as the leaves begin to turn. This time around everything is bright and fresh and green. The azaleas are still blooming and the hydrangeas are just starting to show.

The river flowing to the Sea of Japan.

Half way up the mountain there is a Buddhist temple. We stopped to take a look. The monk who was in charge of the temple had a fact sheet in English for us and then he took us through the buildings. Usually when we visit Buddhist temples we can view the rooms from a distance but not go ‘behind the scenes’, as it were. He took around the back of the main alter area and showed us various sub rooms. The most sacred spaces at the back are off limits, but we saw more than the usual and wow – so beautiful!

After our ride up the mountain and back we replenished ourselves with some gelato in a little square where the hot water for the town comes out of the ground. There’s quite a pump station there and from that spring all the water for the town’s onsens is derived. We wandered back along the river through the back streets and made our way toward the train station.

The other attraction in the area is Genbudo Park, a geology museum and outdoor exhibit. No bus service from town, but a taxi was a possibility. We heard that there was a bike rental place, so we headed there. And then we joined the 21st century because – electric bikes!

Best $25.00 we could spend. It was still mildly terrifying, as we had to drive on the opposite side of road to what we are used to and drive on the roadway. And did I mention it was hot? 27C. I doubt we could have done it without the ebikes – there was a hill that would have thwarted us. But – off we went and it took us about 25 minutes to get there. Fortunately the secondary road we were on didn’t have much traffic and the cars gave us a wide berth.

Needed this stuff!

The museum was really well done. Full of fossils and beautiful specimens of a wide variety of minerals. I was particularly impressed by the baby T-Rex, and if you’ve ever wondered what T-Rex ate, well just take a look. There’s a rice ball in his mouth. Onigiri for the win!

Volcanic activity in the area left behind wonderful examples of columnar basalt. The shape of the museum reflects the hexagonal shape of the basalt columns. As nice as the museum was across the street were the caves….

There were five caves to see. Some had been quarried, others had just been uncovered. They were all very cool.

While we were looking at the caves we kept crossing paths with these two young ladies and of course we got talking and taking pictures. One of them had been to Vancouver and loved it. They were so cute!

They had come by car and were astounded that we had come by bike. We said our goodbyes and rode back to town. By that time we were thoroughly grubby, so we put on our yukata and headed to the public bath around the corner. And who did we meet on the street in their yukatas but those two. So, time passes, I’m soaking in the outdoor pool in the bath (which is in a cave) when I hear a little shriek at the door – look over and there they are. And yes, we’re all naked. I managed to say something in Japanese like ‘I don’t have my glasses on and I can’t see you’. They came in for a bit, then said good bye. I waited a bit. Time to go get dried off. And of course they had the locker next to mine. Anyhoo. I think they may have recovered from the trauma of it all by now!

So – in the end we didn’t visit all the onsens but we had a spectacular day!

Author: Sharon

I like to make things. I like to travel. I like to talk about what I'm up to.

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