White Day & Arima Onsen

Taking a break from the news was hard, but today was White Day, a second sort of Valentine’s Day in Japan, so Nicky took me to Arima Onsen, a little hamlet thirty minutes out of Kobe.

After spending too many hours watching news of the earthquake, and reading of now a possible nuclear issue in Fukushima, Nicky and I decided it was time for a break. Right now, it is very easy to get depressed, so we decided not to cancel our plans to visit Arima Onsen on White Day. I’m really glad we went; it was really beautiful, and a day in the hot springs was perfect to get rid of the pent up stress.

Arima Onsen is a small town about two hours from Kyoto by the normal train. The tracks travel through the mountains on old, rusted tracks that wind in and out of tunnels, and as we got further and further from civilization, and more and more people got off the train, Nicky and I relaxed, side by side, allowing ourselves a moment of solitude.

The town itself is rather small, and the whole of it can be explored in a day. There is really no need to spend the night, unless you plan to visit all of the onsen in the area. We had a few places we absolutely wanted to see, one of them being the Arima Toys and Automata Museum. It was really cool, with many antique German toys on display. The most interesting floor was the Automata floor, I think- I’ve compiled a video of the attraction here.

We decided to eat lunch at an open-air bar, which was serving Kobe beef curry, the most amazing curry I have ever eaten. Arima also has a famous cider drink (ramune) that is ridiculously carbonated, so we tried that as well.

Afterwards, we headed to the Onsen Temple, and then to Taiko no Yu, the onsen theme park in town. Like Odaiba Onsen in Tokyo, this onsen sported Dr. Fish (yay!), and many styles of bath, though the baths Arima is known for are the silver and gold baths, each begetting their name from the natural minerals in the water. We ate parfaits to celebrate White Day after we were done in the baths.

It was getting late after the onsen, so we decided to head home. It was a really nice day... though the news of the last few days loomed in our minds, we were still able to enjoy it.