In the bustling onsen town of Kinosaki, the centrally-located but tucked away family-run Fujimiya ryokan offers just the right balance of traditional features and modern convenience.
It's a fine example of thousands of small, independent ryokan you'll find throughout Japan.
Kinosaki Onsen - Stepping Back In Time
Kinosaki Onsen nestles on the northern coast of the Tajima region in Hyogo Prefecture, overlooking the Sea of Japan. It's just under 100 miles north of Kyoto and readily accessible by train or car.
If you're planning on staying in Kyoto, Kobe or Osaka, and like ryokan and onsen, you should definitely consider adding a short stay in Kinosaki Onsen. Two days, one night is enough to sample most of what the town offers.
The heart of Kinosaki is a village largely unchanged in 100 years, where multiple bridges criss-cross a central, tree-lined canal. You can read our full guide to Kinosaki Onsen here.
What's A Ryokan?
Ryokan are traditional Japanese inns, used by travellers as points of rest in Japan for over 1,000 years.
Historically, they've been located on popular highway routes or, as with Fujimiya and Kinosaki, where there are natural hot springs known as onsen.
READ: Japanese Inns and Hot Springs: A Guide to Ryokan and Onsen
Fujimiya is a small ryokan that has been in the same family for more than 60 years. Currently on the third generation, the owners pride themselves on their hospitality - a key component in staying in a ryokan.
If you've never stayed in a ryokan before, this article tells you all you need to know and what to expect.
Although a modern construction much of the ryokan is made from wood which sometimes means sound can travel.
Central Location, Quiet Street
Even though it's just a few metres from the main road which runs through Kinosaki village, Fujimiya ryokan, it is set back up a quiet street, backing onto the foot of one of the mountains that surround the town.
This gives you the best of both worlds.
It's perfectly quiet and tranquil once you're inside the ryokan, but literally everything Kinosaki Onsen has to offer is just a few minutes walk away.
Kinosakionsen JR train station is only 700m. Yanagi-yu, one of Kinosaki's seven public onsen, is a 2 minute walk. See the Location Map below.
Design and Layout
Although new by ryokan standards, Fujimiya draws its architecture very much from the classic wooden ryokan tradition. Modern materials are used for the main, two-storey structure, but the interiors are wall-to-wall wood and tatami matted floors.
Tatami are mats made from rush straw. They are common in older Japanese buildings, or feature in modern buildings styling elements based on traditional Japanese interiors.
Fujimiya is laid out on two levels.
The main entrance at street level is accessed through a covered walkway, leading to the main building.
Verically cut noren curtains hang in front of time-honoured sliding wooden doors, behind which lies the reception area.
The second level is the annex - a small cluster of rooms, located on a hill at the rear of the property. Access to which is via a series of 80 stone steps.
From up here, there are some splendid views over the town and the Maruyama River below.
Convenience and Accessibility
Rooms in the building on the ground floor are suitable for wheelchair users or those with accessibility issues.
However, the room I stayed in was in the annex - which is only accessible via a stepped footpath - not at all suitable for wheelchair users, or anyone who has difficulty walking.
At Fujimiya all guest rooms come with a seating area and a flat-screen TV. All rooms have air conditioning, a bathroom and a small safe.
Although I was travelling solo, this ryokan is highly rated by couples. Which I can understand. Particularly if you stay in one of the annex rooms. There's something romantic about their setting.
All rooms at Fujimiya are in the traditional Japanese style. Meaning tatami mat flooring, low-level furniture, as seating is on zabuton floor cushions, and futon for sleeping. There are no western beds at the ryokan.
All rooms have heating/cooling via an air conditioning unit. I was here mid-winter but it didn't take long to warm up my large room. The aircon units will keep rooms nice and cool during the hot summer months.
Although I did run into a little problem with my aircon unit. There were no instructions in English in my room. And, try as I might, I couldn't figure out how to get the room warm enough.
In the end, I called to reception who sent someone up to show me how to properly operate the aircon remote control and all was well (and toasty) after that.
Related: Hotspring Hopping In Kinosaki Onsen
Dinner and Breakfast
On Fujimiya's website (only in Japanese) they offer several plans including dinner and breakfast or breakfast only options. Most of the dinner plans showcase the local snow crab.
All meals are served in your room. I ate out in Kinosaki for dinner, but did have the breakfast at Fujimiya.
Ryokan breakfasts focus on local seasonal produce. Fish is a staple. You'll sometimes get some meat. Other times, like here, the emphasis was on vegetarian dishes (although not exclusively so).
Miso soup and rice regularly feature. Here, the rice was served as three large rice balls.
My breakfast was served with a local natural water called Yakushi no yu.
Kinosaki Onsen's spring source is located close to Onsenji Temple. And it is this source the water comes from.
It was served at room temperature and had a subtle sulphurous smell, but that wasn't really noticeable in the taste.
There is also a public drinking fountain in the village (opposite Ichino-yu onsen) where you can sample the spring waters.
The Walk Down to The Onsen
The onsen (natural hotsprings) at Fujimiya are accessed via a dedicated bath house behind the main building. It is surrounded my trees and bamboo, lending it a peaceful air.
There is a small interior bath with big glass windows overlooking the bamboo and trees surrounding the ryokan.
There's also a rotemburo (outside bath) that has open sides, surrounded by a lattice of bamboo. It offers some lovely views over the neighbouring countryside.
I used both baths.
I'm a big fan of rotemburo. For me, soaking up to my ears in the hot waters is the ideal way to experience onsen.
For many, a large part of bathing in Japan's natural hotsprings is to be close to nature, and rotemburo give you that opportunity.
Related: Hotspring Hopping In Kinosaki Onsen
The Yumepa Pass
If you want to head out of Fujimiya to explore Kinosaki's public baths (and you should), you'll be pleased to hear that it participates in Kinosaki Onsen's Yumepa system.
It's a free pass given to all guests staying at local ryokan, enabling them gain access (for free) to all seven of the town's public baths.
If the pass isn't offered to you when you check-in - just ask for one.
Parking, Wi-Fi, Heating and Luggage Storage
Fujimiya offers accommodation with free WiFi and free private parking. The ryokan has daily housekeeping should you need it and luggage storage space.
As with most ryokan, in the early evening staff at Fujimiya will turn your room into a bedroom, moving the furniture to one side so that your futon can be laid out, ready for a cozy night's sleep.
TRJ Tip: The kitchen is on the first floor in the main building and if you're staying on the ground floor there you may hear some noise of the preparation of breakfast. (This isn't uncommon in smaller, wooden ryokan where sound can travel.)
It's not an issue at all if you opt to stay in the annex.
Pricing / Paying for Your Room
Compared with most other ryokan in Kinosaki Onsen, Fujimiya is cheap. You can check current prices HERE.
Whilst it may lack some of the modernisation and more luxurious touches that enable its competitors to (justifiably) charge more, it does mean they can offer excellent value.
Rooms are a generous size too. Accommodation in equivalent ryokan at this price range would typically be considerably smaller.
TRJ Tip: like many small, independent ryokan, Fujimiya does not accept payment by credit card. You will need cash to pay for your room. So make sure you have enough on you to settle your bill.
Fujimiya is a modest but nicely-designed and well-located ryokan. The landscaping around the grounds is attractive, and the views out across Kinosaki and towards the Sea of Japan from the annex rooms are a nice bonus.
If you want a ryokan that has English-speaking staff then you may want to consider other options. However, the staff are attentive and helpful and provided you can use a few Japanese words and phrases you should be fine.
Fujimiya is excellent value and their prices are considerably lower than much of the competition in Kinosaki.
Related: Hotspring Hopping In Kinosaki Onsen
Places of Interest Nearby
Kinosaki's seven public baths are all within walking distance.
Kinosaki's Bungeikan Cultural Centre, is a 5-minute walk. Here you can learn about mugiwara zaiku, a straw craft native to Kinosaki Onsen, get a tour of the traditional straw craft workshop and decorate your own box with the coloured straw.
I also recommend using Kinosaki Ropeway, a 10-minute walk. It is a 5 minute taxi ride/drive to Kinosaki Marine World.
Takeno Beach, a beautiful soft sandy beach running into the clear blue Sea of Japan, is a 10-minute drive away. Although something of a hidden gem, it is ranked as one of Japan top 100 beaches.
During the summer months, it is possible to pre-book a barbecue dinner on Takeno Beach. The BBQ experience takes place on a hill overlooking the beautiful beach.
The memorable meal uses fresh seasonal ingredients and typically includes Japanese beef, Yoka pork spareribs, crab, seafood, locally grown vegetables, and dessert. All you need to bring is your swimsuit and a change of clothes!
If you fancy something a bit adventurous, a local company runs sea kayaking from the beach out into the Sea of Japan. Where you can explore the coastline, including Monster Cave famous for its legend of an ogre who fought Japan's Sea God.
Book Fujimiya Ryokan
Although Fujimiya does have its own website it is only in Japanese and requires Flash to display fully. Fortunately, they are also on Booking.com HERE.
Popular Things To Do In Kinosaki
Want to drink Japanese tea in a Buddhist temple? Eat wagyu beef from Tajima for lunch? Get hands on in a straw craft workshop? How about trying sea kayaking?
All of these activites can be booked in advance:
Visit: Gokurakuji Temple Zazen and Matcha Tea Near Kinosaki Onsen
Hike: Learn the Ancient Onsenji Bathing Method at Kinosaki Onsen
Explore: North Kansai by Sightseeing Bus
Paddle: Sea Kayaking in the Sea of Japan Near Kinosaki Onsen
Experience: Stork Extinction and Resurrection Tour with Private Guide
Make: Straw Craft Workshop Tour and Activity in Kinosaki Onsen
Eat: Takeno Beach BBQ with Sea of Japan Views Near Kinosaki Onsen
About the Author
A writer and publisher from England, Rob has been exploring Japan’s 6,800 islands since 2000. He specialises in travelling off the beaten track, whether on remote atolls or in the hidden streets of major cities. He’s the founder of TheRealJapan.com.
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Fujimiya Ryokan on Booking.com
Fujimiya Ryokan Website (Japanese only)
The Real Japan Kinosaki Onsen Guide
Hotspring Hopping In Kinosaki Onsen
Japan Travel Guidebook
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