Arima Hot Springs and Angels #JapanTravel
Nestled within the Mount Rokko range, angels abide at the Arima hot springs. The divine assignation is not unique to yours truly. The oldest chronicles of Japan (Nihon Shoki) tell of Shinto gods who witnessed the healing of three crows bathing in the golden Arima springs. Legend also says Arima is protected by the Medicine Buddha. Emperors, Kabuki actors1 and other celebs have visited Arima hot springs. It’s one of Japan’s top three onsen (natural hot springs.)
Japan is famous for omotenashi (hospitality) and omoiyari (thoughtfulness.) Visit Arima Hot Springs and you’ll see exquisite examples. From the bus drivers to the shopkeepers and staff of the Grand Hotel hot springs, there is a pride in the place that translates to going the extra mile in service.
The abundance of natural hot springs allows for a diverse array of hot baths. Some are pricier than others. The intention to visit the establishment with the most extensive menu of healing baths and massages was nixed. Arima Taiko no Yu is closed for renovation until April 1, 2019. (If you visit Arima Taiko no Yu, you'll decide how deep you dare to venture into hot waters. Like Goldilocks though you'll be given the opportunity to test the waters until you find one that's just right. They also have a bath with fish who nibble dry skin on your feet!) The Grand Hotel was selected this time.
At the Grand Hotel, birds sing among the bamboo whilst the body soaks in the outdoor hot springs. Onsen – Japanese for hot springs – are also inside. The baths are segregated. (Only a few places in Japan now offer hot baths where both men and women bathe together. Of course, you can always go to hotels, which advertise en suite baths.) The signs in the hot spring bath areas are in both English and Japanese. Including comprehensive rules of how to bathe in a Japanese onsen. Absentminded, I wore the wrong slippers into the dressing room and was gently admonished. Of course, I apologized profusely.
My husband who doesn’t read Japanese swears there were no English directions on the men’s side of how to get to the outside bath. Next time he’ll be better prepared. I’ll write out the Japanese character for push. (押す ) On the women’s side a press of a button gets you to the golden springs in the great outdoors.
Also at the Grand Hotel, there are massage specialists who can relax any tension. After a soak in both the indoor and outdoor golden waters of Arima, I saw the eye specialist. Next I saw the foot expert. I arose from the massage chair feeling like Heaven said hello. My husband had a full body massage and declared it the best in his life. (High praise from one who is a massage connoisseur.) If you’re planning a massage, and don’t speak Japanese, you might want your hotel concierge or Google translate to specify where you want work done on your body. You can always resort to finger pointing and miming.
If you like high-end Karaoke or want to linger over afternoon English tea and sandwiches whilst gazing at a traditional Japanese garden, that’s available at the Grand Hotel, too. Cocktail sipping while a pianist sings Jazz is another option for those staying the night.
Technically located within the city limits of Kobe, Arima hot spring baths is an easy one-day trip from Kobe or Osaka. Tokyo dwellers will need to stay the night. (Or get up extra early and catch a super speedy bullet train.) If you decide to do an Arima sleepover, there are lots of terrific temples and a toy museum in the area. Five miles away there is Takarazuka: Home to extravagant musicals with all-female casts.
However you choose to construct your itinerary, you’re on your way to be blessed!
Wishing you a divine Arima hot springs experience.
Note 1. When roaming around Netflix check out Kabuki actor Matsuyama Onoe on Kantaro: The Sweet Tooth Salaryman. It’s delicious fun. Plus, the show gifts viewers with a tour of Tokyo.
The Ninja Baker
© ™ Watkinson 2012
The Ninja Baker has guest blogged and contributed recipes to numerous food sites. These additional recipes can be found here.