2017 April 1
- Visited: Saturday 10 AM – 4 PM
- Public baths are cash-only.
- The last train back to Kyoto is pretty early (before 4 PM).
- Link: Tripadvisor, Japan-Guide, Official website, Train schedule
Kinosaki is a small town North of Kyoto, about 2.5 hour train ride away (so not very close). It is known for its 7 public baths, and you can buy a ticket to visit all 7 of them for JPY 1200 (~ USD 11).
There was a direct train from Kyoto, but the train tickets were expensive. A round-trip costs whopping JPY 8640 (~ USD 78). Fortunately, it’s covered by JR pass and also by JR West Kansai Wide Area Pass. The latter costs JPY 9000 (~ USD 81) and covers 5 days. The price actually went up recently but I only paid JPY 8500, making it a no-brainer deal.
The train ride itself was very smooth and quiet, with clean seats.
I bought bento and tea for JPY 500 (~ USD 4) in the train station. There were many more expensive options.
One of the rice balls had clams inside, which was interesting. Unfortunately it didn’t taste fresh. The other one had seaweed inside, and was a little bland.
Fried fish cake tasted more like a meatball and it was really good. Typical soy sauce + sugar taste. Tamagoyaki (egg) was delicious! Sweet and really soft. Pickled daikon was very crispy. The tea was also good, but I couldn’t tell what kind of tea it was.
The train station was small, and right outside there was fountain where you can taste the onsen (hot spring) water. It tasted salty.
There were two streams running through the town and the scenery was beautiful. Unfortunately none of the cherry blossoms had opened yet.
You can buy tickets for individual public baths (JPY 600-800 ~ USD 5-7) or you can get Yumepa ticket that allows you to use all the public baths for the day for JPY 1200 (~ USD 11). You can get the Yumepa ticket at any of the public baths. It has a QR code which you scan when you enter the public baths. I bought the latter and managed to visit all 7. Beware that some baths do close on certain days, but all of them are open on Saturday.
If you stay at one of the hotels in Kinosaki they usually give you Yumepa tickets for free and lets you borrow Yukata (traditional clothing) and Geta (traditional shoes).
All of the public baths have stamps in front of them, so if you want them bring paper! I got all the stamps and accidentally threw away all of them…
Some tips on using public baths:
- They don’t provide you with towels but you can purchase one. I had brought my own towel.
- You do take off ALL your clothes in the change room area, and most people tend to cover their front with a towel. But you should not dip your towel in the hot spring. I usually put it near the bath or on top of my head.
- Your hair and your face should stay above the water. If you have long hair, put them in a bun.
- There are sit-down showers in indoor bath areas with shampoo, conditioner, and body wash.
- You need to dry yourself before entering the change room area.
This one was small and cozy. There was one indoor bath and one outdoor bath, and the staff was really nice and courteous.
I soaked myself for only 20 minutes because I had to pee. Most of them had restrooms inside the change area, but I had to dry myself to get there, so I just came out.
The building looked NICE! It felt very traditional and spacious. The indoor bath area was wood with tons of window so it felt very open. The outdoor bath had a waterfall right next to the bath, and the sound was very soothing. I tried to stay in longer but I got too hot.
The indoor bath was huge and surprisingly breathable, but there was no outdoor bath. I did some people watching (not in a creepy manner) and noticed that most people only stay in the water for about 5-10 minutes. I wasn’t a huge fan of this one.
I really liked this one, and i think this was the largest. Outside the building there was an area where you could soak your feet for free.
The lobby was a little confusing until I figured I should go see where the staircase led to. The resting area was very spacious and they even had massage chairs (for a fee).
The second floor had 4 indoor baths and the third floor had sauna (hot and cold) and 2 outdoor baths. The outdoor section had a mountain view and there were 2 baths, one hot and one cold, and a tiny waterfall for massage. I was alone for most of it so it felt nice and private. However, the water didn’t feel quite hot enough.
My favourite. The outdoor bath was shaped like a cave and the temperature was just right. There were some wind so the breathability was amazing. It felt very spacious overall as well.
I got a bottle of something from the vending machine (JPY 151 ~ USD 1), and it turned out to be one of those drinkable yogurts! It tasted really great after hot bath.
It opened at 3 PM and I went there a little past 3. It was tiny and very crowded, almost chaotic. I literally took a 5-minute dip and came out. There was a tiny outdoor bath that barely fit 4 people.
Crowded with a single, tiny, indoor bath.
It was an amazing day trip from Kyoto and I would definitely visit this city again if I get a chance. It was very relaxing and my skin felt much softer at the end of the day. Kinosaki also had some great food which I will post about later. I wish the cherry blossoms were open because the pictures online looked amazing. I would also love to stay here overnight at one of the ryokans (traditional Japanese hotels).
Unfortunately, you do need to get naked in front of others and that might have been partially why there were very few non-Japanese visitors. But if you can get over that it’s a very interesting experience for a very affordable price.