Team Out of Town Blog Hub (Outoftownblog.com) – During the colder months in Kinosaki Onsen, the clip-clop of geta (wooden clogs) mingles with the soft crunch of fresh snow as wintertime visitors brave the chilly breeze on their way to one of Kinosaki’s Seven Mystic Hot Springs. As the first dusting of powdery snow floats down onto the willow-lined streets of Kinosaki, the hot spring town sheds its vibrant greenery for frosty tree branches and snow-capped mountain views.
A leisurely walk through Kinosaki’s snowy town center presents travelers with scenery and activities unique to a Japanese hot spring town. Pedestrians clad in a haori (winter coat for kimono) with a winter-themed yukata (light cotton kimono) underneath can escape the cold for cozy cafes with toasty beverages or try their hand at a traditional shooting game in one of the local arcades. Before entering one of the public bathhouses for a hot spring dip, visitors can also warm their feet in one of the free foot baths dotted throughout the town.
After a relaxing stroll through the center of town, those interested in venturing out into Kinosaki’s nearby forested winter wonderland are welcome to visit tranquil and secluded Onsenji Temple, a Buddhist place of worship enveloped by snow-capped trees in the winter. In the past, visitors to Kinosaki Onsen would first pay their respects at Onsenji Temple before entering any of Kinosaki’s hot springs. Travelers who don’t mind the brisk mountain wind are encouraged to continue this tradition!
A Vintage Winter Wonderland And A Warm Meal
To the south of Kinosaki lies a town that residents refer to as “Little Kyoto.” Izushi, Kinosaki’s nearby castle town, is the perfect winter day trip just 50 minutes by bus from Kinosaki Onsen Station. Visitors are welcome to admire the snow-dusted vintage architecture of Izushi Castle Ruins and Shinkoro Tower, a traditional Japanese clocktower considered one of the oldest in Japan.
After exploring the town, travelers can pop into any of the countless soba (buckwheat noodles) restaurants lining the town streets for a hot meal, cozy atmosphere, and conversation with warm and friendly locals.
Skiing Under The Stars
Nighttime skiing in the highland countryside town of Kannabe is a yearly pastime attracting adventurous tourists from neighboring towns and prefectures. Just 40 minutes by car from Kinosaki Onsen, visitors can either spend a night in one of Kannabe’s quaint and inviting inns as a side trip from Kinosaki or take a nighttime drive back to their Kinosaki ryokan (inn) after an evening of skiing under the stars. Those who would rather experience a daytime adventure in Kannabe are welcome to try skiing during the day or even snowshoeing!
A Cozy Night In A Rural Farmhouse
Looking for an off-the-beaten-path, one-with-wilderness destination? Zen, a farmhouse minshuku (homestay) tucked away amongst the snow-capped mountains in Tanto, is the perfect accommodation for nature-lovers and those longing for the ultimate wintertime Japanese homestay. In the spirit of a do-it-yourself experience, guests can heat their own bathwater, cook their meals on a traditional stove with chopped wood for the fire, and sit on zabuton (Japanese cushions) while eating around an irori (sunken hearth). Depending on the amount of snow, guests can even build a snowman before heading back inside for a night’s sleep on a comfy futon.
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