Arima Onsen is a popular hot spring resort just beyond the Mt Rokko hills which overlook the city of Kobe.
For over 1,500 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.
There are a set of formalities and strict rules to be observed when it comes to Japanese bathhouse etiquette, but you can opt instead for the free and scalding hot footbath located in the street in front of the Arima Toy and Automata Museum.
The museum is located in a six-storey modern building.
It has a good selection of wooden and metal toys, mostly from Europe, and child play areas have been set aside with some innovative wooden games and puzzles.
The model train layout is attractive but serious modellers would probably complain that they have mixed up some of the scale ratios.
Elsewhere in Arima’s quaint narrow streets there are a number of temples, cosy restaurants and curio gift shops worth exploring.
This article first appeared in thrifty-traveller.com