Legend holds that the source of Kinosaki Onsen's hot springs was discovered in 720 by a monk named Dochi, who later went on to found Onsenji temple midway up Mount Daishi on the west side of town.

For 30-year periods, the principle object of worship at Onsenji, a Heian Period (794-1185) wooden statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, resides in a veiled alcove at the back of the temple's main hall. Then, for just three years, the statue is removed from this hiding place and displayed in all its rough-hewn glory, completing a 33-year cycle of exhibition.

The statue went on full display on April 23 of this year, and will remain that way until April 24, 2021. This three-year window makes Kinosaki an especially enticing place to visit at the moment, though the town certainly has a more enduring appeal.