“More crab? It’s too much!”, is a statement I never thought I’d say about one of my favorite foods, but I found myself saying over and over again during the course of our multi-course crab feast at Kinosaki Suishoen.
When we were planning our trip to Japan, my parents mentioned going to a town famous for crab and hot springs and I was intrigued. With my aggressive schedule of staying in 9 places in 10 days, a day spent decompressing by soaking in an onsen sounded perfect.
Kinosaki is a 2 1/2 hour train ride from Kyoto and located on the coast of the Sea of Japan. It’s known as one of the most famous hot spring towns in Japan, and one of the most popular things to do is wander the charming old town in a yukata touring from onsen to onsen. But for us, the onsens were secondary. We were there for the crab.
Matsuba snow crab is harvested from the Sea of Japan between November to March, which put us just in the tail end of the season. As we travelled on the quaint Tango train from Kyoto to Kinosaki I was excited about the opportunity to get off the crowded tourist track to experience moments of quiet in Japan.
We got off the train and Kinosaki looked exactly like what I was hoping for. While it was definitely a tourist town, it was catering more specifically to Japanese tourists. I was happy to feel like I was experiencing something unique.
We dropped our bags off at the ryokan, and wandered back into town to check it out. While I knew I had a big dinner ahead, I couldn’t resist but indulge in a few delicious bites.
My brother wanted to explore up higher into the hills to see if we could get a view of the town. As we walked, we just happened to stumble upon a path that took us up a hill where we found a deserted lookout tower.
After our walk, I was ready to change into my yukata and start unwinding. I’m not a fan of taking a bath at home, but I enjoy my time in an onsen. There’s something very satisfying about the onsen ritual, where my mind truly relaxes from a state of cleanliness that almost equals purity.
After the onsen, I was ready for the crab feast. As we entered the room, the table was already set with a full crab and various other plates and vessels, all containing crab.
I was full around this point but knew there was still more to go. I willed myself to have more room in my stomach because I knew that the meal and all of its components was special and I wanted to experience all of it.
I was so full it was almost painful but I knew I had to keep trying my best to keep going. It seemed like such a waste to leave legs and legs of crab prepared so many different ways, and unfortunately taking leftovers was not an option.
After a post-meal cleanse in the onsen, I fell into a crab-induced coma. I woke excited the next morning to have another soak in the onsen before we left.
I always feel like a day away at an onsen isn’t enough, but it’s amazing how refreshed you can feel after just 1 day of soaking.
As we were waiting for our train to take us home, I saw this hot spring drinking area. I felt like I had to check it out. I grabbed a cup provided and took a huge swig of the water. Don’t be fooled by the happiness on my face in this photo. Never drink the hot spring water! It tasted like rotten eggs.