This 700-Year-Old Inn in Japan Can Be Found in Kobe

It was one of the first inns to build an indoor hot spring.

Hyoe Koyokaku
1904 Arimacho, Kita Ward, Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture
Check-in time: 2:30 p.m. / Check-out time: 11 a.m.
Rates (1 room for 2): Buffet Plan (¥19,764/person), room service (¥27,324/person)
How to get there: It’s a 6-minute walk from Arima Onsen Station via Kobe Electric Railway.

Hot spring town Arima Onsen is known as one of the oldest hot springs in Japan. No less than the emperor of Japan paid it a visit during the Asuka Period and Toyotomi Hideyoshi himself also dropped by the onsen during the war in the Sengoku Period. Later on, Kansai’s elites began patronizing it as well--and with good reason. 

There are two types of hot springs in the Ariman Onsen--kinsen (golden hot spring) and ginsen (silver hot spring)--both of which are rare hot springs that contain seven of the nine substances enumerated by the Ministry of Environment as a medical hot spring. 

Kinsen (golden hot spring) doesn’t only moisturize your skin, but also reportedly keeps it warm.

A lot of people are charmed by Arima Onsen, and long-established Japanese inn Hyoe Koyokaku proves to be one of the draws. As one of the oldest inns in Arima, the 700-year-old establishment is located on a hill, and is only a few minutes on foot from the center of Arima Onsen town.

During the Meiji Period, it was the first inn in the area with a hot spring inside. Since then, it has welcomed people both from and outside the Kansai area with seasonal dishes. In the three indoor hot spring baths where kinsen (golden hot spring) can be enjoyed.

All three baths have a different atmosphere, so you can try each one while staying at the inn. You’ll feel Arima’s quality in the relaxing and calm atmosphere, enabling you to forget your daily life.

Standard rooms are also big and relaxing.

The way from the north wing to the San no Yu or the third hot spring.

Ichi no Yu, or the first hot spring, has a big window from where there’s a view of a Japanese garden and mountains. The lattice of the ceiling is beautiful, and there is also a bath outside.

Ni no Yu, or the second hot spring, has symmetrical pillars and lighting that are like Roman baths. Here, the bath outside is also built Western-style. There are also bubble baths and saunas.

San no Yu is built like a traditional medical bath.

For a stay with more than two people, meals inside rooms are available. You can enjoy the dishes one by one, while having a relaxing talk.

At the lobby, colorful yukatas for both men and women can be rented for ¥1,000. They will surely make the walks inside the inn more fun.

After the bath, there’s a place where you can relax and watch carps swim.

Along the hallways that lead you to the rooms, there are pictures that show the history of the inn.

“Arima Onsen is a hot spring district where you stay mainly in your inn and enjoy the hot spring and cuisine,” says Hirofumi Kishimoto who works at Hyoe Koyokaku.

The inns at the Arima Onsen originated from 12 shukubo (a place where Buddhists stay). They existed around the sources of hot springs until the Meiji period, and visitors enjoyed hot springs outside the shukubo and cuisine inside. Shukubo eventually became Japanese inns, and started welcoming visitors who came all the way from different places by serving many kinds of dishes. Therefore, you should enjoy every minute of your stay in Arima Onsen.

Upon entering their room, guests are welcomed with tea and confectionery, so that they can rest up a bit after their trip. During dinner, dishes are served in the room one by one, so they can enjoy each course and have a relaxing time.

“What is special here is the cuisine” says Kishimoto. While there are many inns that use locally produced ingredients today, Arima Onsen inns have been using high-quality ingredients from all over Japan and have been serving kaiseki-ryori, a traditional Japanese course meal, since the olden days.

Kobe beef and other high-quality ingredients from mountain or sea make a beautiful kaiseki.

Arima takes pride in sourcing their ingredients from different parts of Japan. This may be a result of having many elite guests, but it’s more of having an Arima identity.

There’s also a sweets buffet and other items on the menu that will attract the young generation.

At Koyokaku, there are three indoor hot spring baths that guests can enjoy after dinner. They can also play table tennis, head to the bar for a night cap, or go for a short walk in town during sunset.

A table tennis table is available if you make a reservation. It costs ¥1,000 for 40 minutes. There’s also karaoke.

A therapy room is also available. After getting warm in kinsen, relax with an aroma therapy or a massage.

Provided by Kansai Walker™, Japan Walker™, and Walkerplus™ (2 February 2018)

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