Kinosaki hot springs, Japan

Photo © commons.wikimedia

Tottering through the streets in broad daylight wearing a kimono and platform shoes is both liberating and embarrassing – somewhere between setting off to a fancy dress party and accidentally going out in your dressing gown.

The small, old-fashioned town of Kinosaki has seven bath houses. The custom is to stroll from one to the other in traditional Japanese clothes (provided by your inn), experiencing all their different features: There are indoor pools, outdoor pools, cave pools, roof jacuzzis, waterfalls, mists, foot baths, lush gardens and mountain views.

You must be naked in the water, which is intensely hot, making the ‘penguin sauna,’ a sort of walk-in freezer, a welcome relief. Once thoroughly boiled and pink, the tradition is to go to a crab restaurant – still in your kimono.

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