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Kobe Excursion from Osaka with Hot Springs by Private Vehicle

PRIVATE KOBE AND ARIMA HOT SPRINGS EXCURSION

Spend a lovely day enjoying Kobe's hot springs, gardens, and fun urban bits too.

From ¥53,800/group
Private Vehicle 8 Hours (approx.) Up to 9 People

Tour Introduction

Staying in Osaka but looking for a day to see the sights in Kobe? Already going to be in Kobe, but looking to really explore it properly? We’ve got a private vehicle Kobe tour that just may be a perfect fit for you! Even better, we’ve got a couple of different options for you. Choose more nature and onsen (hot springs), or more city sights down below. Details are below, but regardless of which tour you choose, your day is going to be a memorable one.

Historic Landmarks

Arima Onsen (hot springs) has been used for many centuries by those looking for rejuvenation, and it wasn’t always so easy to get there! Outside of the hot springs, most of our other stops are not deeply historical, but are extremely culturally relevant.

Professional Guide

Real English, real skills, and great personalities. Our guides have the knowledge and expertise to provide you with interesting, fun, and memorable tours.

Fully Narrated Tour

Our tours never leave you to wonder about on your own. Your guide stays with you the whole time, unless, for example, you want a bit of time to roam a garden or have lunch on your own.

Easy Access

Tour pickup provided at your lodging or port in Osaka or Kobe. (For Osaka-based tours, the port area or Universal Studios area incurs a nominal surcharge).

Does this look like fun? Book tickets today!

Tour Overview

Osaka’s got many noteworthy sights, but Kobe’s no slouch either! And since using public transit between these sights isn’t always the best, having a private vehicle makes for a huge convenience. Depending how you to play it, you’ll ride a cable car up a mountain, soak in famous hot springs, see one or two lovely gardens, explore the ritzy local shopping streets, see Japan’s second most famous Chinatown (#1 being Yokohama), and visit a sake (Japanese rice wine) distillery too!

Up we go!

After picking you up from your hotel, we’ll drive out to Mt. Rokko and get you on the Rokko Cable Car up the mountain. This historic “funicular” started service in 1932, allowing the more affluent types to escape the summer heat down below for the cooler mountain climates above. Your guide rejoins you at the top at takes you to the observation deck for expansive views from Osaka all the way to downtown Kobe (Sannomiya) area. Or just a wall of clouds if you're unlucky, but let’s hope for the best! From this point in the tour, you’ll have some choices, but we highly recommend Arima Onsen, which is the region’s most famous natural hot springs. There’s a quaint town surrounding the hot springs facilities, so for those a little shy about showing their bodies (baths are enjoyed in gender-separated areas, with nothing more than a small modesty towel), there’s some shopping and also a hot spring foot bath free for you to try out. All seasons are lovely up at Arima Onsen. There’s the “Golden Spring” and the “Silver Spring”, and both are said to hold rejuvenating properties. No promises on getting younger, but your skin will feel smoother after! Be sure to try out one of their sake manju (a little Japanese sweet dumpling) while up there. For a Kobe tour from Osaka or central Kobe too, visiting Arima Onsen is a highlight, but should in no way be the end. We’ve got a couple brilliant gardens for you to choose from. The Kobe Botanical Garden is an expansive and beautiful nature reserve type setting, but as its name implies, more of a botanical garden than a traditional Japanese garden. Sorakuen, closer to central Kobe, is where classic Japanese garden design with just a touch of late 19th century Western influence can be found. Both lovely options, and if you are really a garden person, both can be visited.

The more urban side of Kobe

As beautiful as Kobe’s natural areas can be, there’s also great stuff to see in the flats of the city. If high-end shopping is your bag, we’d be happy to introduce Kobe’s take on the scene. Looking for a Kobe Steak lunch? That can also easily be arranged. The Chinatown is, to be honest, generally more entertaining for Japanese domestic visitors doing a Kobe tour from Osaka than it is for our international guests, but we’re happy to give you a walkthrough as it is next to the general shopping area. Also just a short car ride away is a moving memorial to Kobe’s terrible 1995 earthquake that killed over 5,000 people. An area along the shore has been left as-is to keep the memories alive.

Care to learn how “sake” is made?

Historically and still today, Kobe has been a major sake producing area. The location on the shore, coupled with the ease of procuring good water and rice, enabled companies like Hakutsuru to thrive. If you’d like to learn more about this very Japanese rice wine, Hakutsuru has a restored sake production house that explains the process through life-size recreations. Naturally, there’s some free tasting available too. Depending on your priorities, you’re sure to find a pleasant way to enjoy your day amongst the gems of Kobe’s scenic spots!

Does this look like fun? Book tickets today!

Itinerary

Ride up this historic, funicular style cable car to the 493m top station, then gaze out at Osaka, the bay, and all the way to central Kobe (weather permitting). All in all, about 45 minutes with this.

Justifiable renown, the healing waters of Arima Onsen are said to be the best in the region. Soak in one of the historic bath houses, or just soak your feet at the outdoors bath. Afterwards, explore the quaint surrounding town for a few minutes, as you like.

This is where the tour day diverges. If you want to stay in the mountains, we’ll have lunch up there and also take you to Kobe Botanical Gardens, where you’ll be able to detach from the hustle and bustle of Osaka and Kobe and immerse yourself in nature. The grounds are immense, and we can spend more or less time here, as suits you.

For those wishing to experience a classic Japanese garden, we’ll head to Sorakuen for a fantastic example. Well trimmed trees and meandering paths make for a very pleasant and atmospheric stroll. Around 45 minutes at either garden, though this can vary depending on your interest level.

Here’s where we can have a Kobe Beef lunch if you like, or eat somewhere else along the way. Afterwards, there’s shopping, Chinatown, and the haunting 1995 Hanshin Earthquake Memorial on the coast. This stop only applies to the Central Kobe tour option. With lunch, this will all take around two hours, or less if you prefer.

If you’ve ever wondered how “sake” (pronounced “sah-kay”), this is the stop for you. Hakutsuru is one of Japan’s largest producers, and inside this restored brewhouse you will find a 1920s re-creation of how sake is produced, alongside displays showing how modernity has changed the process. Free tasting too! 30-45 minutes here.

Historic and Cultural Landmarks

Arima Onsen (hot springs) has been used for many centuries by those looking for rejuvenation, and it wasn’t always so easy to get there! Outside of the hot springs, most of our other stops are not deeply historical, but are extremely culturally relevant. Western influence has been especially strong in this part of Japan for nearly 150 years.

Easy Access

Simple as can be! Your Kobe tour from either Osaka or within Kobe naturally starts right at your lodging. That’s pretty easy, right?

Know Before You Go

There are a couple of things we’d like to mention up front.

  • Please come wearing practical, comfortable shoes. It’s a car tour, but especially if we go to the Botanical Garden, there will be some walking. If you wish to avoid walking too much, just let us know (preferably in advance) and we’ll accommodate.
  • You should bring two towels for the hot springs visit. One should be a medium size washcloth (like the kind hanging next to the bathroom sink at a hotel), and one for drying your body afterwards. Alternatively, you can buy/rent towels at the hot spring facility.
  • Arima Onsen, and especially the lookout from the top of the mountain can often be around 4°C (around 7°F) cooler than the city below. Occasionally there is even a bit of snow. Please come dressed appropriately.

Inclusions:

  • Hotel pickup and drop-off
  • All vehicle costs
  • All guide costs

Exclusions:

  • Lunch, or any other food and drinks
  • Admissions and cable car fee. In total, plan on around 1,000 yen/person for the cable car and garden stop, plus around 700 yen/person to go in the hot springs (if you choose to do so).

Our Tour Guides

We've got around a dozen guides at your service. Here we showcase a few of our most active ones.

Kevin

We think it's important that everyone who works for Pinpoint Traveler is an active guide too, even the owner. Kevin's been in Japan thirteen years, but spent the first ten in the corporate world. Now he shares his love for Japan outside the confines of the office.

Shoji

Born in Japan, but moved to Canada when he was still quite young, Shoji is back and ready to share is passion for Japan with you. His main dominion is Osaka and on down to Koya-san and Wakayama, but he's such a popular guy that we often send him even further afield by request.

Mardi

Mardi's our Kyoto guide-in-chief, and her love for the city is infectious. She's got an uncanny ability for giving people just the right amount of information while still ensuring the tour stays light and fun. Be it temples and shrines, gardens, or nightlife, Mardi's your gal.

Dan

Dan is a Spaniard, so of course his Spanish is native level, but his English is fantastic as well. He's got a warm personality and consistently makes our guests feel like they've made a new friend within minutes of meeting him. He also knows Osaka and Kyoto like no one's business!

Levy

With nearly twenty years in Osaka, Levy's got this place WIRED. He's a major samurai and history aficionado, and in addition to knowing all the top sights like a true pro, he knows Osaka's nightlife better than (dare we say it!) the vast majority of Japanese who call Osaka home. Levy's originally from Israel, and runs tours in Hebrew too.

Suzie

Suzie is Japan born and raised, and we can't recommend her enough for tours in Tokyo and Yokohama. Our prior guests frequently say nicer things about Suzie than any of our own mothers have said about us! The consummate pro, she's not just got all the info, but also an uncanny knack for knowing what to show our guests.

Not profiled here are guides who speak Spanish (Kyoto, in addition to Dan in Osaka), French (Osaka, Kyoto, Tokyo), and German (Kyoto and Tokyo).

Pickup Point

We'll pick you up anywhere in central Osaka or Kobe at no additional charge! USJ and Osaka port pickups available for a nominal fee (Kobe port incurs no extra charge).

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