On the northern slopes of Rokkō-san, northeast of Kōbe, is one of Japan’s oldest hot-spring resorts, ARIMA ONSEN (有馬温泉). Since the seventh century AD, Arima has been famous for attracting emperors, shoguns and, in more modern times, the literati, all of whom have come to bathe in its gold and silver waters. It’s even mentioned in the ancient chronicle the Nihonshoki. Hideyoshi Toyotomi brought the tea master Sen no Rikyu here in the sixteenth century to perform a tea ceremony, an event commemorated annually in November with the Arima Great Tea Ceremony. Arima has two kinds of mineral-rich hot springs, both recognized for their health benefits – the sludgy brown ginsen (gold spring) and the clear kinsen (silver spring) waters are believed to be effective for curing everything from rheumatism to high blood pressure, as well as improving appetite.

There are some top-class ryokan in Arima, where you can soak yourself in luxury on an overnight trip. However, if you can only visit Arima by day, you should take a dip in the public baths. The Kin no Yu public bath (金の湯) is five minutes’ walk uphill from the train station, close to the bus station and tourist information office. Here you can relax in the kinsen waters, at the source, in a modern bathhouse. Outside there is a free footbath area, as well as a fountain of drinkable spa water. Heading up the Negai-zaka slope, lined with lots of small wooden ryokan and shops selling local crafts, you’ll find the Gin no Yu public bath (銀の湯) at the top, just past Nenbutsu-ji temple. Gin no Yu is much quieter than Kin no Yu and has a high ceiling with skylights; the light streaming in through the mist is mesmerizing. For more than double the price, it is also possible to visit the spas of some of Arima’s ryokan and hotels, but opening days and times depend on the season. Check at the tourist information office to find out which private spas you can enter.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Japan features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Sipping sake: a dispatch from one of Japan's oldest breweries

Sipping sake: a dispatch from one of Japan's oldest breweries

Sake is quickly replacing craft beer as the cool kid on the drinks scene globally – and a number of breweries have recently opened in the UK, USA and Austral…

10 Nov 2017 • Tamara Hinson local_activity Special feature
6 reasons why Osaka should be on your radar

6 reasons why Osaka should be on your radar

Osaka is affectionately known as "Japan's kitchen". It's the birthplace of ramen noodles (which celebrate their 60th birthday in 2018) and is home to some of th…

26 Sep 2017 • Tamara Hinson insert_drive_file Article
Japan travel tips: 13 things to know before you go

Japan travel tips: 13 things to know before you go

With its glittering royal palaces, ancient temples and sacred shrines as well as sandy beaches, some of the world’s best skiing and beautiful national parks, …

07 Sep 2017 • Freya Godfrey insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook