In the hot spring town of Kinosaki, not far from the coast of the Sea of Japan in Hyogo Prefecture, there is more to see and do than just bathe.
The main attraction of the town - 2 plus hours from Kyoto or Osaka by rail - is its "sotoyu" (literally "out baths"), the seven public baths that are all within walking distance of the main street, which parallels a quaint canal.
When you stay at inns in the town, you will be given an electronic tag that you can use to enter any of these baths for free.
The second attraction is crab. In winter, the town is thronged with visitors in search of Sea of Japan crab.
Last would be the overall retro vibe of the town. Many ordinary buildings have eluded the wrecking ball, and among them are many shops and arcades that feature retro goods.
One we visited had old-time pachinko (pinball) machines.
From Kyoto Station, express trains take two and a half hours and cost 4,510 yen; from Osaka, trains take 2 hours and forty-five minutes.
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Monday, January 17, 2011