COMMUNITY WITH TOURISM

Community & tourism side by side

Kinosaki Onsen is both a residential and a tourist district. The vast majority of shop owners live above or behind their shops, as this is the way it has always been. Because the local businesses call Kinosaki Onsen home, they take great pride in their town’s appearance, history, and culture. This makes Kinosaki Onsen an extremely safe, clean, and friendly place to live and to visit.
Here locals depend on tourism for their businesses and livelihood, while tourism depends on the success of the local businesses. There are many businesses engaged in the town’s tourism, from accommodations and restaurants to landscaping and printing industries.

An aerial shot of one of Kinosaki Onsen's main streets

The lives and daily routines of the locals intertwine with and help build local tourism.

The lantern and cherry blossom lined street of Kiyamachi Dori Various townspeople hustling and bustling on one of Kinosaki Onsen's many streets

The daily lives of the locals shape the town

From a very early age, the children of the town are exposed to the tourism business as part of their culture and daily lives. These children create and maintain relationships that develop from childhood friendships into business relations when they either take over their parents ryokan, restaurant, or shop, or perhaps even create their own establishment. This contributes to the spirit of “coexistence and co-prosperity” and it is this spirit that supports the prosperity of Kinosaki Onsen.

Japanese Elementary school children playing in the sakura blossoms as they walk to school along the cherry blossom lined riverside of Kiyomachi street.

Kinosaki Onsen community

Relationships created at an early age are often carried into adulthood. These relationships and experiences help to develop a sense of belonging and a connection to the local community and tourism economy.
Many of the current residents have, at some point, lived outside of the area for school or work and then returned either by themselves or with their new family. These new members are introduced and welcomed into the community and find themselves participating in the development of the town. In this way, Kinosaki Onsen is not exclusive to natives but rather has an open and welcoming relationship with transplants and visitors, creating an accepting network that becomes the driving force for promoting tourism development.

Community-led tourism with local businesses, new and old

From onsen operations to ryokan menus, nearly everything is managed locally. In the 1950s, the town decided that the seven hot spring bathhouses would be given priority over the smaller private baths owned by individual ryokan, and thus centralized hot spring management was established.
Neighborhood fishermen and farmers sell their fresh catches and produce at local markets, restaurants, and ryokan. The menus of many establishments in town consist of locally-grown ingredients, ensuring freshness and reputability.

Taniguchiya Arcade, with many people inside in their yukata playing games
OFF Kinosaki – staff members sit outside on the bridge walkway enjoying some red wine and chatting
The owners of Chikara Mochi restaurant and their family all raising one of their hands in a fist, as if to say 'power!'. ('Chikara' means power in Japanese, and Mochi is a type of rice cake)
The chefs of Orizuru sushi restaurant preparing for guests.
A traditional Kamiya craftsman crafting something out of straw, he has his mask on
photo: Madoka Nishiyama
The empty theater of Kinosaki Art Center

Taniguchiya Arcade

An old-fashioned arcade founded in 1954. Enjoy nostalgic and retro games that are a rare find in Japan.

OFF. Kinosaki

Located along the quiet backstreets of town, OFF. Kinosaki became an instant hit with locals and visitors for its fresh style, modern atmosphere, and creative seasonal menus back when it opened in 2018.

Chikara Mochi

This noodles and sweets shop is your one-stop-shop for some delicious homemade Japanese soul food, including curry udon and ohagi (glutinous rice cakes). Chikara Mochi is also a favorite among locals for its soft serve ice cream.

Orizuru

Recognized as Kinosaki Onsen’s first-class sushi restaurant since its founding in 1942. Each master sushi chef has trained at one of Japan’s foremost sushi restaurants.

Kamiya Folk Craft Shop

Learn about and create your own original straw craft keepsake. Straw craft, or mugiwara zaiku, is a traditional craft unique to Kinosaki Onsen.

Kinosaki International Art Center

An Artist-in-Residence center that carries on Kinosaki Onsen’s tradition of welcoming and hosting writers and artists. Its aim is to share art with the local residence and tourists.

Where you’ll find the locals

You’ll find them where you'll find the tourists:
At the bathhouses. Some of the locals still rely on the onsen for their baths, as their houses do not have tubs. Thus, many residents have always gone to their nearest bathhouse for their nightly soaks.
At the local fish markets and produce stores. They frequent these shops to pick up their daily groceries.
At one of the local bars or restaurants. You'll find locals enjoying a drink and a meal while chatting it up with friends. The littlest ones can be found at a nearby ice cream shop or arcade with their parents in tow, asking for a few yen to play a game or have a treat.

The exterior of Jizoyu Onsen, with many people waiting around outside
A shop clerk at a fishmarket selling crabs to a local lady
The 'mama-san' and other bartenders talking to the guests of the Snack Bar

Taking a bedtime bath at Jizo-yu

Residents pay just 100 yen, or 50 yen for kids, to bathe in their local bathhouse. Jizo-yu has a kid-friendly bath with cooler temperatures, making it a popular choice for families with young kids.

Fishmonger selling their fresh catch of crab

Okesho Fish Market was established in 1925 by the current owner’s grandmother and is one of the largest fish markets in Kinosaki Onsen.

Drinks with the snack “Mama” at Ayame Snack Bar

Snack bars are small Japanese bars with drinks, karaoke, and a "Mama" serving as the host. Ayame is popular with locals and is perfect for first-timers looking to experience Kinosaki Onsen’s night culture.