Vegetarian's Japan Guide

The Best Guide to Kinosaki Onsen’s 7 Public Bathhouses

When you visit a hot spring town in Japan, indulging in onsen is a must. While you can reserve a guestroom with a private tub, the experience of bathing in a public one is much more valuable. Not only is it a cheaper option, but the bathing space is much wider, and there is usually more than one hot spring facility for you to enjoy!

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The Seven Public Bathhouses in Kinosaki Onsen

Kinosaki Onsen (城崎温泉) has seven public bathhouses, each with its own unique characteristics. The hot spring temperature, interior designs, and history all differ. A common way to enjoy Kinosaki is to jump from one bathhouse to another, which is referred to as the Sotoyu-meguri (外湯めぐり).

In Kinosaki Onsen (城崎温泉), the bathing area in ryokans is called Uchiyu (内湯), and the public bathhouse that can be accessed by anyone (as long as you pay your way in) is called Sotoyu (外湯).

For a brief introduction to each public bathhouse, please refer to pages 13 to 15 of the official English pamphlet HERE.

Note that the bathhouses have not been giving out the No. 1 Plaque (一番札) since March 2021. The commemorative gift given to the first male and female customers of the day at each bathhouse had caused too much competition between the guests.

If you only have time for one bathhouse, visit Gosho no Yu. It is the best one in town!

Kinosaki Onsen and Tattoos

Because many Japanese who have tattoos are known to be gangsters, most public bathhouses don’t allow those who have one to enter their facility.

But Kinosaki Onsen is different! The hot spring town’s public bathhouses treat those with tattoos the same way as those without. In fact, before the town was filled with tourists, the locals were already used to those with tattoos utilizing the public bathhouses.

So if you have tattoos, you can have peace of mind when bathing at Kinosaki Onsen’s public bathhouses.

Kinosaki Onsen’s Spring Quality

The hot springs flowing out of Kinosaki Onsen‘s spring sources are sodium chloride springs. It effectively treats neuralgia, fatigue, chronic digestive diseases, and common chronic illnesses mostly found in women.

What to Bring to Enjoy Hot Spring at Kinosaki Onsen

  • Towels: Towels are provided for a fee at all of Kinosaki Onsen‘s public bathhouses.
    • A face towel can be purchased.
    • A bath towel can be rented.
  • Amenities:
    • Only shampoo and body soap are available.
    • Other amenities, such as toner or lotion, are not available and are not for sale.
  • 100 Yen Coins:
    • You will need the 100 yen coins to use the coin-operated lockers. Your 100 yen will be returned to you once you return the key in most cases.
    • If you are not a ryokan guest, please also ensure you have enough cash to pay for the bathhouse’s admission.

Kinosaki Onsen’s Public Bathhouse’s Admission Fee

The admission fee is 800 yen per visit in Kinosaki Onsen except for Sato no Yu, which costs 900 yen per visit.

Tip: Get a One-Day Hot Spring Pass Yumepa (城崎温泉1日入浴券 ゆめぱ) for access to all 7 bathhouses in Kinosaki Onsen as many times as you want within a day
 ☆彡 The pass is sold at the ticket counter at all 7 bathhouses.
 ☆彡 The cost is 1,500 yen for adults and 750 yen for children. This means that if you plan to visit more than one bathhouse, this pass will end up saving you money.

How Long Should I Stay at Kinosaki Onsen?

In order to visit all of the hot spring town’s seven public baths, you will need at least one full day and one night stay at Kinosaki Onsen.

How Long to Allocate to Each Bathhouse in Kinosaki Onsen

If you want to do bathhouse hopping, 60 to 90 minutes per bathhouse is a good estimate.

How to Avoid the Crowds at Kinosaki Onsen’s Public Bathhouses

As Kinosaki Onsen is a popular tourist destination, you might find that wherever you go, there are crowds. So, how do you enjoy your stay with a minimum crowd level?

The order to visit each public bathhouse varies, depending on the bathhouse’s location and when it opens. Please use the below as a reference:

  • 3 pm to 4 pm: Yanagi-Yu (柳湯) and Mandara-Yu (まんだら湯)
    • Both of the bathhouses open at 3 pm. Most people would still be at other bathhouses.
    • Their outdoor baths are small, so you won’t be able to enjoy the facility when they are congested.
  • 6:30 pm to 8 pm: Sato no Yu (さとの湯) and Gosho no Yu (御所の湯)
    • These two bathhouses are the most popular ones in Kinosaki Onsen, so it is best to visit them during the hours when most people are having dinner.
  • 9 pm to 11 pm: Jizō-Yu (地蔵湯), Ichi no Yu (一の湯), and Kou no Yu (鴻の湯)
    • The three bathhouses aren’t spacious, so it is best to visit them when more and more people return back to their ryokan rooms.
  • 7 am to 9 pm: Jizō-Yu (地蔵湯), Ichi no Yu (一の湯), Gosho no Yu (御所の湯), and Kou no Yu (鴻の湯)
    • The four bathhouses open at 7 am.
    • It is the second least crowded time at Kinosaki Onsen’s public bathhouses.

☛ As you can see Toyooka‘s natural scenery from Sato no Yu‘s outdoor baths, it is recommended that you visit it during day time.
☛ The bathhouse free pass given by your ryokan is valid until the following day. Please confirm with the staff as to time, as their policy may change.
☛ You can check how congested it is at each public bathhouse HERE. It is in Japanese, but you can easily read the %.

The Public Bathhouses in Kinosaki Onsen With a Private Onsen Tub

If you want more privacy, visit Ichi no Yu (一の湯) or Jizō-Yu (地蔵湯). These two bathhouses have private hot spring tubs that you can rent out at an extra cost.

Visiting Kinosaki Onsen’s Public Bathhouses in Yukata Yukata

From mid-afternoon, you will notice more and more people walking on the street wearing traditional yukata. If they also hold a woven basket like the ones in the photo, they are ryokan guests who have checked in and changed into the yukata provided.

Dressing in this traditional outfit is the best way to enjoy Kinosaki’s onsen. The geta sandals are also provided by their ryokans.

Because we stayed in a cheaper hotel close to Toyooka Station on the day (Toyooka Green Hotel Morris), we were envious of them! But at the same time, we were wondering whether the yukata was warm enough during the winter, as the day was cold and we had to wear several layers!

If you want to try on a yukata when you visit Kinosaki Onsen but won’t be staying in a ryokan, visit Iroha Yukata Shop & Rental. The yukata there are more formal looking than the ones from the ryokan. If you decide to rent one, we would recommend that you only visit the bathhouses after returning the yukata. This is because putting it on isn’t as easy as wearing a bathrobe. It can be problematic if you don’t know how to put it back on once you take it off!

Gosho no Yu (御所の湯) 

Among all Kinosaki Onsen‘s public bathhouses, Gosho no Yu is the most recommended onsen facility. Why? Because there is a waterfall on the side of both male and female bathing areas. There aren’t many places where you can adore a 3m mighty waterfall while soaking in a hot spring!

For more information, refer to our Gosho no Yu article!

Click the photo for more information about Gosho no Yu!

Ichi no Yu (一の湯)

Click the photo for more information about Ichi no Yu!

If receiving the most medical benefits from the hot spring is more important to you, Ichi no Yu is the public bathhouse for you to visit in Kinosaki Onsen. The spring quality was ranked the best in Japan by Japan’s Father of Hot Spring Medicine. You will also want to visit Ichi no Yu if you are after an experience of bathing in a cave or wish to rent a private onsen tub.

For more information, refer to our Ichi no Yu article!

Sato no Yu (さとの湯)

Among Kinosaki Onsen’s seven public bathhouses, Sato no Yu is the newest. The bathhouse just next to the town’s train station faces the Maruyama River, and its outdoor onsen pool offers a scenic natural view of Toyooka City‘s nature. If you are lucky enough, the country’s Special Designated Natural Monument, White Stork, may just come within the range of vision from the hot spring pool, making your visit more memorable!

For more information, refer to our Sato no Yu article!

Click the photo for more information about Sato no Yu!

Jizō-Yu (地蔵湯)

Click the photo for more information about Jizō-Yu!

Besides Ichi no Yu, Jizō-Yu is another public bathhouse where you can rent a private hot spring tub in Kinosaki Onsen. Although its building looks like a humble hotel, you definitely won’t miss it when you walk towards the front entrance due to this gigantic stone lantern! The hexagon-shaped windows are also a unique building design. It was inspired by the columnar joints in the Genbudō Park (玄武洞公園) nearby.

For more information, refer to our Jizō-Yu article!

Visit Kinosaki Onsen for the Magnificent Michelin Certified Scenery

Kinosaki Onsen is a hot spring resort with rich historical and cultural elements that also sports many recreational activities. In addition, the spectacular view from Mt. Daishi is the recipient of Michelin Two Star rating!

So when you visit it, don’t just stay in the ryokan or public bathhouses – explore the town!

For more information, please refer to our article on Kinosaki Onsen!

Click the photo to find out more about the stunning Onsen Town

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