Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Onsenji Temple: Where You Can Enjoy Vegan Lunch at Arima Onsen

Arima Onsen is surely the best hot spring town closest to Kyoto and Osaka. While the onsen town is full of characters and worthwhile to visit, vegan/vegetarian meals are hard to come by. Fortunately, Onsenji Temple (温泉禅寺) offers monk cuisine and runs a cafe that serves vegan keema curry rice!

Onsenji Temple was established in 724, when the eminent monk of the time, Gyōki (行基), tried to cure the locals of illness using the hot spring. As the first temple built in the hot spring town, the temple is also known as a spot for cherry blossoms in spring.

At its main worship hall, there are many National Important Cultural Properties, with the magnificent golden statue of Yakushi Nyorai (healing Buddha) that will definitely catch your attention.

© Kobe Tourism Bureau

Fucha Cuisine at Onsenji Temple

What excites us the most is the Fucha Cuisine (Fuchar Rōri, 普茶料理), which is a type of Seijin Rōri (精進料理) that is offered here!

Since October 2019, the pilgrims can enjoy Chinese-style vegan cuisine during lunchtime from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm if you book in advance by calling them at +81-78-904-0650. One thing to note is that you have to be in a group of 3 or more to book one of their 6 tables.

While it isn’t cheap to dine here (5,500 yen per person), it can be quite an experience if you have some extra cash to spare (^_-)-☆. Each table will have around 7 – 9 dishes shared between everyone. Unlike the small portions served at many traditional diners in Japan, you can expect dishes served in big volume here.

Tea House citta (茶坊 citta)

Onsenji Temple also has a café where you can enjoy vegetarian curry without a reservation. The café has a Japanese-style setting, as you would expect from a Japanese temple. However, it also has many modern elements, allowing you to enjoy the Zen garden and the beautifully decorated interior. As you wait for your food, small board games are on each table to keep you entertained.

The curry at Tea House citta is made by stewing vegetables and apples with white wine (instead of water) for six hours. With the right amount of spice and the deliciousness of the vegetables, it will be one of the best keema curries you will ever have!

You will notice a big tree when you adore the temple’s garden. Apparently, the sal tree is more than 300 years old and still blooms in June every year! Moreover, two large stones are on the side of the sal tree. The one on the left is called Sparrow Stone (雀石), and the one on the right is Clam Stone (蛤石). When the two stones are placed together, they form a metaphor. The sparrow and the clam are from the old phrase, “The sparrows enter the sea and become clams (雀海中に入って蛤となる)”. It was used to describe how fast things can change.

If there is no one to greet you, ring the bell at the entrance and someone will be with you shortly (^_-)-☆.

Note there are only 10 servings of vegetarian curry per day, so it is best to make a reservation!

☛ Check with the staff to see if they still do coffee refills.
☛ There are only 10 serves of vegetarian curry per day from 10 am, so it is best to make a reservation by calling +81-78-904-0414!

Tea House citta’s Business Hours

Tea House citta is open from 9 am to 5 pm from Friday to Wednesday.

How to Get to Onsenji Temple

The temple is around an 8-minute walk from Arimaonsen Station.

Take the Rokkō Arima Ropeway to Visit Arima Onsen Town

Click the photo to know more about what to do in Arima Onsen!

Arima Onsen (有馬温泉) is one of the Three Most Famous Onsen Towns in Japan. Located just 30 minutes from Kobe, the town known for hot springs that moisturize your skin is also filled with a range of leisure activities to keep you entertained!

To find out more about this hot spring town you must visit, please refer to our article on Arima Onsen (=゚ω゚)ノ.