Arima Onsen, hailed as one of the three oldest hot springs in Japan, was a disappointment for me. Maybe because I waited a little too long to visit it – now it’s too overdeveloped and way too crowded for my taste. I’ve been to the other two oldest hot springs – Dogo Onsen in Matsuyama and Shirahama Onsen in Wakayama – and those, while suffering from the same woes of overdevelopment, were somehow more pleasant, or at least had some more points of interest for me personally. In Arima I was really looking forward to the reddish iron water – my favorite kind of hot mineral spring – and that I got, but not much else.
I’m glad that I finally checked it out, but I won’t be coming back to Arima.
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I took the shinkansen from Tokyo to Shin-Kobe, then used direct bus to Arima Onsen. On my way back I had to take the train from Arima to Shin-Kobe station – the bus was packed, and I didn’t have a pre-purchased ticket.
I stayed for 1 night at Merveille Arima, which I couldn’t find right away and had to enlist some local help (I love the way Japanese people are always ready to help you; staff from a totally different hotel took me and my luggage to the right place in their company van). The hotel was actually close to bus stop and right next to train station – I just walked in the opposite direction. Arima has a really confusing layout with all those hills.