With Japanese winter just around the  corner, Japan’s Best Hot Spring Town,Kinosaki Onsen, is gearing up for yet another popular hot spring season, welcoming travellers who take the frosty temperatures as an opportunity to warm themselves up in some of the world’s finest onsens.

As travellers continue to flock to Japan’s hot springs, usually drawn by the obvious wellness factor, Visit Kinosaki advises that the onsen appeal goes a lot deeper than the simple relaxation and pampering pleasures it usually gets associated with.

“An onsen is so much more than a wellness experience” said Alison Roberts-Brown, former long-term Japan resident and Director of Tourism Garden, representative of Visit Kinosaki in Australia.

 “It’s a reflection of a deeply routed tradition taking you back to the old days of Japan, to the country’s original culture, its traditional customs and beliefs. And, of course, watching the snow fall whilst relaxing in an outdoor onsen is a simply magical winter experience that should be on every Japan traveller’s bucket list” she added.

 Visit Kinosaki has revealed its favourite myths, stories and tales about some of the seven spectacular bath houses it is home to: 

  • Kouno-Yu onsen: the oldest hot spring in Kinosaki is said to have been discovered when a priest found an oriental stork healing its wounds in the waters.
  • Mandara-Yu onsen: Mandara means the enlightened mind and is named so because the waters of Mandara were supposedly brought forth after a holy priest, Dochi, prayed continually for a thousand days.
  • Goshono-Yu onsen: Goshono-yu was built in the likeness of Kyoto’s Imperial Palace and is also known as the “Water of Beauty”, said to bring luck in love and protect against fires.
  • Ichino-Yu onsen: Kinosaki’s most iconic bath house, “Ichino-yu” translates “number one bath”, a name given by a well-known doctor of the Edo era, after he had experienced the positive effects of the waters first-hand.
  • Yanagi-Yu onsen: Yanagi-yu is said to ensure fertility and safe childbirth for woman. Yanagi is Japanese for weeping willow and gets its name from the willow-lined street that runs in front of the Yanagi-yu.

 In Kinosaki Onsen, all visitors staying at a ryokan get a free pass to visit seven public baths. For a full guide on the onsen ‘do’ and ‘don’t’s, click here.