I have just returned from a family holiday in Japan (Kobe and Tokyo). We are quite familiar with Japan, having lived in Kobe from 1993-1996. This was our first time back since those days and we wanted to show our sons where they spent their early childhood years and to take our daughter to visit Japan’s many child friendly attractions, including Tokyo Disneyland.
One of our first stops was Arima Onsen, a popular hot spring resort just beyond the Mt. Rokko hills which overlook the city of Kobe. One of our sons was born in Arima just over 20 years ago at the Adventist Hospital, one of the few hospitals with fluent English speaking doctors at the time.
For over 1500 years Arima’s natural hot springs have been attracting Emperors, monks and the health conscious seeking the curative and restorative benefits of their mineral rich waters. Most of the private spas are contained within hotels and require an overnight stay to enjoy the full experience but there are a couple of public bath houses catering for day trippers.
Not wishing to bother ourselves with the formality and strict rules of Japanese bathhouse etiquette we made do with the free and scalding hot footbath located in the street in front of the Arima Toy & Automata Museum. After feeling suitably invigorated we took a look around the museum which is in a 6 storey modern building.
It has a good selection of wooden and metal toys, mostly from Europe, and play areas have been set aside for children to play with some of the wooden games and puzzles. The model train layout is attractive but serious modellers would probably complain that they have mixed up some of the scales.
Elsewhere in Arima’s quaint narrow streets there are a number of temples, cosy restaurants and curious gift shops worth exploring.