【Press Release】1300th Anniversary of Kinosaki Onsen
2020 is the 1300th anniversary of Kinosaki Onsen, a historic onsen (hot spring) town with seven hot spring bathhouses located within walking distance of each other.
The history of Kinosaki Onsen began with a Buddhist monk named Dochi Shonin, who traveled the country to help the suffering and ill. His travels eventually brought him to Kinosaki Onsen, where he was instructed by the local oracle to pray for 1,000 days to save the people from suffering. On the 1,000th day, hot spring water came forth. This hot spring water soon became famous throughout the region and the country for its incredible healing powers. Eventually, word reached the emperor of the time. After confirming the authenticity of Kinosaki’s onsen, he gave the title of “Guardian Temple of Kinosaki Onsen” to the temple erected by Dochi Shonin for the protection of Kinosaki, its hot spring waters, and its people.
This temple, called Onsenji Temple, houses a designated national treasure that is only fully displayed once every 33 years for three years at a time. This treasure is called Juichimen Kanzeon Bosatsu, or “11-faced goddess of compassion and mercy”. It can currently be seen on display in this temple, a temple almost as old as the onsen town itself, until April 2021. For the 1300th anniversary, various facilities in Kinosaki are offering special events/items, including special 1,300-yen menu items at select restaurants, a stamp rally, and limited-edition sake & sweets.
There are very few onsen in Japan that are as old as Kinosaki and have an actual recorded founding date. Kinosaki has been found noted in various historical documents that can authenticate its founding date to 720 AD. The discovery of a hot spring source at what today is the place of a bathhouse, Mandara-yu, is recorded in those documents.
Every year on April 23rd and 24th, a festival called Onsen Festival is held to commemorate Dochi Shonin. The Buddhist monks from Onsenji, the temple where visitors often come to show their gratitude to Dochi Shonin, walk around town to each of the seven public onsen to pray for safety and prosperity of Kinosaki Onsen.
This year, due to the coronavirus, just one of these monks performed the rituals at each onsen. In addition to praying to Dochi Shonin, he included a prayer regarding the coronavirus, praying for it to cease soon.
While COVID-19 is keeping folks around the world at home, we would like to bring Kinosaki Onsen to you through this trying time. We will be sending photos and information about our area. When the time is right to travel again, we’d love for you to come. In the meantime, we will be posting photos and videos, as well as live videos of the area in a new corner called ‘Virtual Travel’ on our Facebook and Instagram pages, so that you can virtually travel while the world is navigating towards a brighter future.
Kinosaki Onsen and Toyooka City has been preparing to make the return to travel as safe as possible with new guidelines and efforts. We hope to belatedly celebrate our anniversary with everyone soon!