A Series of Beginnings
As dustings of pink buds scatter across Kinosaki's trees, eager townspeople flock to the narrow paths alongside the Otani River for a glimpse of one of Kinosaki's most magical sights of the year: the blooming of the cherry blossoms. Cherry blossoms are recognized across Japan as an optimistic symbol of rebirth and fresh beginnings, and this sentiment rings especially true for the locals of Kinosaki Onsen. From its beginnings as a small hot spring resort over one thousand years ago to its struggle to rebuild and reconnect with tradition after the 1925 North Tajima Earthquake, and even in the modern day as new cafes and stores become part of the 1300-year-old townscape, Kinosaki Onsen undoubtedly has had its share of rebirth and new beginnings. In the midst of constant change and development throughout the centuries, Kinosaki’s cherry blossoms, blooming every year in April, are a consistent reminder that no matter how much change time brings to Kinosaki Onsen, the traditional beauty and ambience of the town will be ever-present for locals and visitors alike.
Must-Try Experiences in Kinosaki Onsen: Cherry Blossom Edition
Sozoro Aruki and Hanami
Sozoro Aruki, literally meaning to wander aimlessly, is one of the best ways to truly immerse oneself in the relaxing atmosphere of Kinosaki during springtime. After donning a colorful floral yukata (light cotton kimono), strolling through the willow and cherry blossom-lined streets of town is an unforgettable experience. Many businesses decorate their storefronts with cherry blossom decorations, and visitors should be sure to keep an eye out for the many hidden blossom-themed sights scattered throughout town, including intricately designed bridges and even manholes.
Mugiwara Zaiku: Straw Craft Keepsakes
Kinosaki Onsen is home to Mugiwara Zaiku (Straw Craft), a 300-year-old traditional artform with only four master craftsmen alive today. Pieces of straw are dyed, cut, and placed in intricate designs on wooden boxes, jewelry, chopsticks, and more. Mister Kamiya, one of these remaining craftsmen and the owner of Kamiya Mingei, creates and sells cherry blossom straw craft works every year during springtime. Portraits, keychains, and other unique products are available to bring home as a souvenir.
Traditional springtime sweets across Japan are usually created with a mochi base made from a mixture of water and rice. Cherry blossom treats including sakura mochi (sweet rice cake with a red bean filling and pickled cherry leaf) and other Japanese confections like ichigo daifuku (fresh strawberries wrapped inside a sweet mochi and white bean coating) and can be found in many of the gift stores and food vendors lining Kinosaki’s streets, such as Minatoya, a locally run souvenir shop. It’s recommended to enjoy some of these sweets after a stroll around town, and before a soak in the hot springs!