Going to Kinosaki for the second time was and interesting experience. Not only was the timing different, the last time being in Spring and a tad colder, but the volume of people was much less and made the stay more relaxing.
One thing that had changed in the town was the fact there were so many foreign tourists. When I came 7 years ago to Kinosaki, located on the Japan Sea coast in Hyogo Prefecture, the place was mainly a Japanese resort, with almost no foreigners (save myself) enjoying the 7 baths scattered through out town. This time the small inn we stayed at had four pairs of guests, all foreigners save my wife! A bit of a change.
There had been a fire about two years ago and part of the towns street got damaged, but there were plenty of new buildings going up and many of the old shops had gotten faces lifts since the last time. The pop gun arcade and other old style entertainment shops still remained, but there was a lot of the new and for better or worse that means the economy of the place has been getting better.
I like Kinosaki for a simple reason, it is not dominated by big bubble economy hotels. Most of the places are small inns along the main street of the town on either side of the stream meandering through the center of it all with its little bridges and lined in willow trees. This small inn feel is what I like, the big hotels have their good points in other towns, but when they fall all fall with them. So it is nice to see a town not reliant on bigger business to get its income stable.
I asked the staff while she served us our dinner in our room how she explained the food to the other guests. She said most of them (foreigners) did not take dinner at the inn, instead using restaurants in town. They only took breakfast. Guess that is easier for them, but a major loss. On the other hand foreign tourists are much pickier than Japanese-they have even asked the staff if they could have gluten free meals!
Kinosaki is a great place and if you get the chance to visit it, by all means go-you will love it.