Asia,  Japan,  TDM,  Travel Journal

A day in Kobe and Himeji (Japan): Himeji Castle and Arima-onsen Hot Spring

I have already told you about our unforgettable lunch in Kobe (Kobe beef in teppanyaki yum yum), but it is only today that I tell you the rest of the day.

Part 1: Travel Diary
Part 2: Practical Tips

Part 1: Travel Diary

So we came 30 minutes before the restaurant reservation time, so as not to miss the long awaited and difficult to book lunch. The time to make a very quick tour of the station area.

In Kobe, there is apparently a nice Japanese garden to visit, but we also want to go to Himeji so we hurry, after lunch, to take the train to Himeji (it will take us one hour by local train, but we could have taken a shinkansen to go faster, but more expensive too).


Here are some pictures near Himeji station :

In the station there is also an excellent pastry shop.

Himeji’s mascot wears a hat of the same shape as Himeji’s castle 😀

There are a lot of cherry trees on the way from the train station to the castle, it must be too beautiful in the middle of a hanami. The castle is the pride of Himeji city.

姫路城 Himaji Castle is the most sumptuous castle in Japan, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is also one of the few that have survived in its original construction (most of the others are concrete reconstructions). It owes its nickname of Shirasagi-jō (White Heron Castle) to its majestic white plaster facade and its imposing silhouette at the top of a hill overlooking the plain. The building features a five-storey main keep (tenshū) and three smaller towers. It is surrounded by a moat and defensive walls pierced by rectangular, circular, or triangular loopholes.

The walls of the main keep are also decorated with ishiotoshi – narrow openings that allowed the defenders to throw boiling water or oil on anyone who crossed the ditches and tried to climb the walls.

source : lonely planet

We have to cross a small bridge to get to the park

and here is the famous castle of Himeji, very photogenic, and very very beautiful in real life too

There are still a few cherry blossoms left

The visit of the castle lasts at least 1h30 and as we are pressed for time, we decide not to go inside.

But if you have more time than us, do it, as well as the Koko-en park, on the other side of the west moat of the castle. It is a reconstruction of the old samurai quarters. There is a combined ticket with Himeji Castle.


It will take almost 2 hours to come back to Kobe then take a bus to go to Arima Onsen. If we visit in this order, it is because Arima Onsen is closer to Osaka than Himeji, therefore we prefer to visit first Himeji then Arima Onsen then to return home.

The city is very pretty. We lose some degrees because we are in the mountain. Near the bus stop, we have a beautiful view on a pretty bridge and basins of any kind. I think that we can soak our feet here for free.

Arima Onsen is well known for the medicinal virtues of its two thermal baths. The first is rich in iron. It is nicknamed Kinsen, “golden hot spring water”, the water is brownish in color. The second is normal, and nicknamed Ginsen “silver hot spring water”. There are different onsens in this city, some have only one of the two springs, so we went to Taiko Hot Spring, which has two springs.

Thus, we were able to test both sources, inside and outside (the outside is well decorated but the view isn’t exceptional).

I like this onsen very much, I find it modern, spacious and clean. I think the water is really nice. Usually, whatever the thermal water is, my skin doesn’t react too much, but this one made me all red. So I think it has a real effect, and it will show a few days later because I will have super soft skin. More info about this onsen here.

On this, we return to Osaka. We intend to take the JR bus which goes directly to Osaka for 45 minutes, but Google Maps indicates us the bad location of the departure. We are looking when we see the bus passing under our nose. In fact, it was just at the corner of the street but we did not see it. Here is the exact location.

As there is only one per hour and we don’t plan to stay one more second in this city (it’s already quite late), we walk to another bus stop on the bridge, and wait for the last bus of the day to Osaka.

A Japanese woman is waiting for her bus. Seeing us, she asks us where we are going. It’s funny because the conversation is in Japanese, she speaks Japanese, we answer with the few Japanese words we know (yes, no, thank you) and gestures. And I surprise myself to understand what she says lol. She tells us to be careful because the bus that is going to arrive (her bus) isn’t going to stop at the JR station that we want to go, but the next one will. At worst, we can take the same bus as her, but stop at another JR station, which is further than the JR station that we had planned.

It’s funny how easy it can be to understand people thanks to the context, the gestures and some keywords (JR, station names, yes, no…) 😀

JB tells me I’m bluffing, and it turns out I didn’t understand anything. But after having checked the bus route in detail, we realize that I had understood just.

So, I tell myself that when I had trouble understanding Spanish in South America or Portuguese in Brazil, it was because I didn’t rise above the conversation. I was learning a language, so I wanted to understand every word that was said to me. I was learning a language, so I wanted to understand every word I was told, and I lost the meaning of the sentence, while JB, who was not in the same process as me, was able to spot the key words and guess the overall meaning.

Part 2: Practical Tips

For the reservation of a good Kobe beef restaurant, see our corresponding article.

To get to Himeji, you can take a shinkansen from Osaka or Kobe, or a local train

To get to Kobe, you can take a shinkansen from Osaka or Himeji, or a local train

To go to Arima onsen, there is a direct bus from Osaka. Or, from Kobe station, it is necessary to take a 45 minutes bus. Many elderly people come here just for its thermal water. The quality of the water is really worth the trip, especially if you want to heal. It is indicated for poor circulation, back pain, muscle and joint pain, peripheral circulation disorders, infectious skin diseases, chronic eczema, allergic skin diseases, chronic urticaria, burn wounds, high blood pressure, peripheral arterial occlusive disease, functional arterial circulation disorders, and so on.

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