Kinosaki Onsen: A Town of Hot Springs *RERUN
Kinosaki Onsen is a small town faces the Sea of Japan to its north, and is spread out between mountains. It is a hot springs, or an "onsen" resort in Hyogo Prefecture. About 100 "ryokan" or traditional Japanese inns line a 1-kilometer street, which are visited by 1 million tourists a year. The way to enjoy the hot springs here is to visit all of the 7 public baths in the town. A sparkling otherworldly thermal utopia built in the mountains. In this episode of Seasoning the Seasons, we visit a small hot springs resort that relaxes the body and mind.

Sotoyu: Town's Public Hot Springs

People stroll the streets, doing the rounds of hot springs, or the onsen in Japanese. Travelers spend nights in Kinosaki by using public baths known as Sotoyu - it refers to baths that are not installed inside the inn. Tourists and locals all share the Sotoyu. Rather than a single inn dominating the hot springs, all of Kinosaki has strived to protect the onsen town. Now each ryokan has the onsen baths inside, but they are easily filled up with 5 people. If you want to soak in a large hot springs bath, you need to go to a Sotoyu...

The Onsen Temple

With very little flat land, and a wetland where crops don't grow, Kinosaki was a harsh land to live for the inhabitants. But 1,300 years ago, hot springs were discovered, which was believed to help cure all illnesses. Legend tells that the Buddhist monk Douchi Shounin bestowed the hot springs to the people to save them from their day-to-day sufferings. And the Onsen Temple is dedicated to Douchi Shounin. People started visiting the various Sotoyu which have different health benefits and various trades prospered from the onsen tourists coming and going from the Sotoyu in the town.

Young Masters of Kinosaki

Young masters of inns in town, who are responsible for the future of Kinosaki Onsen regularly get together to exchange ideas about the future of the town. They have started to take action for a new strategy for the coming spring. The new bar of the young masters is scheduled to open around the time the green color of willows starts to deepen. What has taken root in this small hot springs town in the mountains is the DNA of co-existence and co-prosperity. The Love for Kinosaki Onsen will be inherited to many more generations.