Where is Hyogo?
Hyogo Prefecture is located in the Kansai Region, stretching from the Seto Inland Sea to the Sea of Japan. Its largest city and prefectural capital is Kobe, its most famous tourist attraction is Himeji Castle, and its best known hot spring resorts are Arima and Kinosaki.
Himeji is located at South western part of Hyogo, and is the second largest city in Hyogo Prefecture after Kobe. Chugoku Mountains are located on the north, and the Inland Sea of Japan is located on the south. It has been a major location for transportation for a long time and is a city filled with nature and historical culture. Himeji (姫路) is most famous for its magnificent castle, Himeji Castle, widely considered to be Japan's most beautiful surviving feudal castle. The castle is designated both a national treasure and a UNESCO world heritage site. There are many tourist resources here. For example, the Hollywood movie, “Last Samurai” was filmed here. There is also “seafood” freshly caught at the Inland Sea of Japan” and local gourmet of Himeji. The access to Himeji city is about 3 hours from Tokyo, 45 minutes from Kyoto, and 30 minutes from Shin Osaka in JR Shinkansen so it is very convenient to get here from major cities in Japan. The world heritage, Himeji Castle, can be seen from JR Himeji Station. It only takes 15 minute walk and is very close to the station.
Kobe is the capital of Hyogo Prefecture. Located between the sea and the Rokko mountain range, a cosmopolitan port city with an international flavor, hemmed in by Mt. Rokko. Kobe is often ranked as the best place for expatriates to live in Japan. The city has a population of over 1.5 million people. Kobe's busiest railway station is not Kobe Station but Sannomiya Station at the city center. Sannomiya Station is served by multiple railway companies, including Japan Railways (JR). The shinkansen stops at Shin-Kobe Station, a short subway ride north of Sannomiya Station.
Mt.Fuji is one of the most famous places in Japan and it’s well known in the world. However Himeji is the one of MUST VISIT place and it has MUST SEE sight spot also. You will like or even love Himeji!
Himeji Castle (Himejijō), also known as White Heron Castle (Shirasagijo) due to its elegant, white appearance, is widely considered Japan's most spectacular castle for its imposing size and beauty, its well preserved, and complex castle grounds. The castle is both a national treasure and a world heritage site. It was never destroyed by war, earthquake or fire and survives to this day as one of the country's twelve original castles unlike many other Japanese castles. The castle recently underwent extensive renovation over several years and was fully re-opened to the public in March 2015. It lies at a strategic point along the western approach to the former capital city of Kyoto. The first fortifications built on the site were completed in the 1400s, and were gradually enlarged over the centuries by the various clans who ruled over the region. Its complex as it survives today is over 400 years old and was completed in 1609. It comprises over eighty buildings spread across multiple baileys, which are connected by a series of gates and winding paths.
Hishi Gate (Diamond Gate)
It is a gate between Sannomaru to Ninomaru and still has the form from Azuchi Momoyama period in the whole gate. It is the largest gate in the castle.
It is in an important location that covers kugo located in the Hishinomon, and main trail secret path in Ninomariu.
Nishi-no-Maru (West Bailey)
Nishinomaru was built so Tadatoki Honda and Princess Sen can spend relaxing time. In order to cover the only geological weak point in the caste, it has extremely rough structure such as sturdy Nurigome window, corner tower with rock drop, large wooden door to divide the hall. Also near the south gate, there is Worrier’s square where they gathered before the battle and formed their groups. On the other hand, the garden that has a great view of the west of the castle tower is a bright and peaceful plaza.
It is the last point to attack the enemy who reached the entrance of the large keep. It is paired with Higashitenshu. It is the same appearance and inside as Higashitenshu and it also has rock drop and iron barred windows.
Daitenshu (Main Keep)
It looks from the outside to have 5 layers but the inside has 1 floor of basement so it has 6 floors. On the top floor, a pair of Shachigawara is decorated. Shachi is the imaginary ocean fish with tiger’s head and thorns on the back. It is decorated to protect the castle from fire. Tenshu was originally a watchtower for seeing far away and tenshu for Himeji Castle is located about 30m high (90m from the sea level). What supports this large tenshu is 2 pillars with 2m diameter go through the ground floor to 6th floor. It was an advanced technique for the time. Also, Himeji Castle connects Daitenshu and 3 shotenshus with roofed passage and it is called renritsu style tenshu (tower grouping) and it is a unique structure that distinguishes this castle.
It was part of the Honmaru and the castle owner, Teruzumi Ikeda lived there. It had meeting room where the castle owner met with visitors and residence for his wife but it burned down in the fire in 1882.
Gate keepers, Himeji Castle Armored Group, and Ninjas
They come to the castle randomly mainly on weekends. In Himeji Castle, gate keeper, Himeji Castle Armored Group who wears armors, ninjas with swords and ninja stars come and take pictures with tourists. If you are lucky, you can meet them.
Cherry blossom season
1000 cherry blossoms around Himeji Castle are impressive.
This is a Japanese garden which was opened in 1992 to celebrate 100 year anniversary for Himeji city. It is 3.5ha and consists of 9 large and small gardens using divides of the ruins of Himeji Castle West Mansion, samurai residence, and allies. It is often used for shooting historical dramas because it looks like you have time traveled to Edo period with Himeji Castle in the background. Seasonal flowers are beautiful too. Tea ceremony experience in the tea room is popular.
It is one of the three large halls for Tendai sect along with Hiezan and Daisen. There are many important cultural properties in the mountain. People gather there to worship since the old time and it is a popular training place for monks. Many people come visit here from all over Japan even now. Experiencing "Sutra writing, Zen meditation, and one-day training" in an area with rich greenery is very popular. Furthermore, it is famous for a filming location for the Hollywood movie starring Tom Cruz, "Last Samurai" and various movies and dramas. It takes about 4 minutes by ropeway to get to the top.
Himeji City Zoo
It is located next to Sannomaru square of the world heritage site "Himeji Castle". You can see the castle from the zoo. It is rich in nature and you can stroll around the inner moat while observing various animals such as elephants and giraffes. They have "fureai hiroba (petting zoo)" with guinea pigs, miniature pigs, and sheep where you can pet the animals and "miniature farm" where they have goats and chickens.
The atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Over 70,000 people were killed instantly, and another 70,000 suffered fatal injuries from the radiation.
Himeji City Museum of Art
The red brick building is registered as a tangible cultural property. It used to be a storage house for the old army and now it is a museum. There are statues in the grass yard and you can relax and enjoy the art. In the normal exhibit, many modern French artists such as Monet and Mathis are there and various special exhibits are held throughout the year.
Himeji City Museum of Literature
It is located in a quiet area. The unique concrete building designed by Tadao Ando will jump up in your sight. Using visuals and graphics, they will reveal the world of literature in a brand new way. Bokeitei is a Japanese style building with Japanese room and tea room and was built in Taisho period. It is highly recommended. The observatory on the north building is great.
Hyogo prefectural Museum of History
This museum has exhibit that shows the history and culture of Hyogo. It is next to Himeji Castle and you can see Himeji Castle from the museum. There are many exhibits about Himeji Castle and the castle town such as detail replica of Himeji Castle in the lobby and virtual reality theater. You can try on twelve-layered ceremonial kimono or armor (3 times a day, each is drawn in a lottery).
It enshrines "god of the plant" and "god of marriage" as their main. At the end of Heian period, they combine 174 gods in Harimanokuni and they start calling the shrine Harimanokunisosha. It is famous for "Mitsuyamataisai" held once every 20 years.
Himeji City Aquarium
It is one of the only a few aquarium located on top of the mountain in Japan. It is also known as "aquarium on the mountain". It has many creatures that live in the area and have many exhibits that "you can see, hear and touch". On the roof floor, there is Jabujab creek where you can get in and play and biotope is also recommended.
"Tegarayama interaction station monorail exhibit room" located near used to be the Himeji city monorail Tegarayama station building. It has the platform and the monorail that was implemented at the time of Himeji Expo in 1966 and it makes you feel like you have time traveled into the Showa period.
It is a modern cemetery park located on a hill about 1km north east from "the national treasure and world heritage, Himeji Castle".
The symbolic building is the dome shaped stupa that is 38m high. It was a gift from the Prime Minister Nehru from India with a wish for eternal peace and happiness for humans. It enshrine Buddha’s ash and statue of Shakasanzon and the ten principal disciples. It has pure and solemn atmosphere. The park is rich in nature and is great for strolling. In early April, cherry blossoms are beautiful and in mid-April, azaleas over the mountain in red, white, and pink. The view from the observation deck is excellent and is worth seeing.
Kinosaki Onsen town
Kinosaki is a town built entirely around the needs of visitors. Whether it is strolling through the beautiful, willow-lined streets dressed in yukata as you visit the many relaxing hot springs, enjoying fresh crab or Tajima steak at a traditional Japanese inn (ryokan), or simply taking in the scenery, culture and atmosphere of old Japan that lives on in Kinosaki to this day, we are confident you will find a whole world of unique experiences that will make your stay in Kinosaki the highlight of your time in Japan. Welcome to Kinosaki Onsen!
Hot Springs :Kinosaki is known throughout Japan and the world as one of the best hot spring resort towns. Visit Kinosaki and experience our many beautiful and relaxing Japanese hot springs!
Yukata : Yukata are distinctly Japanese fashion, which are rarely seen in every day, modern Japan... except in Kinosaki.
Discover the comfort and beauty of yukata for yourself in Kinosaki. Danjiri Festival : You may have seen Japanese danjiri (portable shrine) festivals on TV or the Internet before, but you have probably not experienced one quite like the Kinosaki “Shrine Fighting”
The Takeda Castle, constructed on a mountain at 353 meters of altitude, is one of the top hundred famous castles in Japan. In autumn when the sky is clear, fog can be seen early in the morning. The view is such that the castle can be seen surrounded by a sea of clouds, thus resembling a castle floating in the sky. As time goes by, visitors have given the names of “castle floating in the sky” or “Japan’s Machu Picchu” to the ruins of Takeda Castle. At the moment, a great number of people have already experienced the magical scenery of the ruins. It is definitely one of the must-see sites in Hyogo prefecture.
Takeda Castle was built on this site in the path of aggression between Harima/Tanba and Tajima regions as a stronghold of Izushi Castle. It was built by Ohtagaki Mitsukage, a retainer of Yamana Sozen, lord of the area, in 1441. Ohtagaki, who had been a military commander of the Yamana clan for 5 generations became lord of the castle. Takeda Castle was conquered by Hideyoshi in his Tajima campaign of 1577. Hideyoshi placed it in the control of his younger brother, Hidenaga, who moved to Izushi less than 2 years later. Akamatsu Hirohide, the last lord of the castle, fought on the side of the Western Forces for Tokugawa at the battle of Sekigahara in the attack on Tottori Castle. Hirohide served valiantly in the battle, but was accused of setting the castle town on fire. Later that year he committed seppuku and Takeda Castle was abandoned.
Takeda Station (Bantan Line); 60 min walk or 15 min taxi (1500 yen)
Rokko Garden Terrace
Complex facilities consisting of cafe, restaurants and accessory shops opened at the top of Mt. Rokko. You can see a panorama of Kansai International Airport to Akashi Kaikyo Bridge on the observatory space. Also you can enjoy the night view. Mount Rokko is close to the cities of Osaka and Kobe and to the hot springs of Arima Onsen. From the top of Mt. Rokko one has a panoramic view of Osaka Bay or the wonderful night view over the city of Kobe. In every season Mt. Rokko offers a spectacle of nature, along with places for dining and shopping.
Address : Kobe, Nada-ku Rokkosan-cho Gosukeyama 1877-9
Telephone : 078-894-2281
URL : http://www.rokkosan.com/gt/
Access : From Rokko Cable-Sanjo Station, transfer to the Rokko Sanjo Bus. Get off at Rokko Garden Terrace stop.
Business hours : 9:00 - 21:00
Port Tower -The Landmark Tower of the Port City of Kobe-
From the top floor, visitors can see both the harbor and the cityscape in a large panorama with the Rokko mountains along the horizon. Enjoy the spectacular view—from the sea and blue sky during the day to the glittering nightscape. All four directions feature a panel and audio landscape guide, the tables are accented with heart-shaped downlights, and the ceiling offers a romantic reproduction of the season’s starry night sky. To the north, the skyline of Kobe can be seen stretching out over the foothills of Mt. Rokko. Also visible are the Western-style buildings of Kitano and the bustling centers of Sannomiya and Motomachi. This view offers a picturesque view overlooking the exotic port city of Kobe. As a port city, Kobe prides itself in its waterfront, particularly Meriken Park. Just past this lies Kobe Port Terminal, where foreign cruise ships can be found at dock, and the landscape of Port Island and Rokko Island. Look out upon where the city meets the harbor. Here you can find the Chuo Terminal on Naka-Pier, where sightseeing boats arrive and depart regularly, and the ocean-view cathedral of the Notre Dame Kobe, a popular location for weddings. To the north stretches Mt. Hachibuse, and in the distance lies Awaji Island. The view south features Harborland, Mosaic, and the recently renovated Ferris wheel offering a variety of illumination creations. Look down over Naka-Pier, bustling with large passenger ships and other vessels, or out to Kobe Airport and Port Island.
Nankinmachi is a compact chinatown in central Kobe and a center of the Chinese community in the Kansai Region. The area was developed by Chinese merchants who settled near Kobe Port after the port was opened to foreign trade in 1868. As the chinatown developed, it became known as Nankinmachi after Nanjing, the former Chinese capital. Nankinmachi is a popular tourist attraction and shopping and dining district. Two main streets run through the district, meeting each other at a small plaza in the center. They are packed with shops, restaurants and food stands that sell popular items such as steamed buns (manju), ramen, tapioca drinks and various other Chinese dishes, many of which have been Japanized to a certain degree.
Nankinmachi is located a five minutes walk south of Motomachi Station, a ten minute walk southwest of Sannomiya Station or a five minute walk north of Meriken Park.
Arima Onsen is a famous hot spring town within the city limits of Kobe, but on the opposite side of Mount Rokko from the city center. The town lies in a natural mountain setting, yet is close enough for Kobe and Osaka residents as an easy and popular day trip or weekend getaway. Although Arima Onsen has a modern look today and is pretty built up, one can still find several narrow lanes and wooden buildings when strolling around the center of town. Due to its compact size, the small town can be explored entirely on foot, and there are several hot spring sources, nice temples and shrines and a small hot spring museum to be discovered. With a history of over 100 years, Arima Onsen is considered one of Japanese oldest hot spring resorts and has often stood at or near the top of onsen rankings for Western Japan. The town has two types of hot spring waters which spring up at various sources around town: the Kinsen “Golden Water” is colored brown with iron deposits and is said to be good for skin ailments and muscle pain, while the clear Ginsen “Silver I contains radium and carbonate and is said to cure various muscle and joint ailments.
Nunobiki Falls is one of the sources of Kobe water that falls into midstream of Ikuta River on mountain side. It is selected as one of the “Best 100 Falls of Japan”. Nunobiki Falls consists of four falls; Ontaki, Mentaki, Meotodaki and Tsutsumigadaki. Ontaki is especially famous with its 43 meters in height.
If you enjoy being in nature, then this short hike to a stunning waterfall is an excellent trip. The hike is relatively short and quite easy. From the start of the hiking trail, just outside of Shin-Kobe station, it only takes about 15 minutes to get to Nunobiki waterfall.
Kobe Harborland is a premier commercial and sightseeing destination on the site of the former Japan National Railways Minatogawa Cargo Station, which opened in October 1992 as a cultural hub that links the city and the sea.
Kobe Harborland features an array of large-scale commercial sites, from department stores, supermarkets, and specialty shops to hotels. This new cityscape, with its seaside sightseeing spots, pier, and pedestrian bridge has gained growing popularity among local residents as well as fans of Kobe from all over Japan.
More shopping and dining spots are found in many of the district's other buildings, which are connected with each other by a series of underground and surface walking paths, promenades and a waterfront boardwalk. One of the main streets that leads through the center of Kobe Harborland, the Gaslight Street, is lit up in the evenings by old-fashioned gas street lamps and electric lights.
Kobe Earthquake Memorial Museum
On January 17, 1995 at 5:46 am, the city of Kobe was hit by the Great Hanshin Awaji Earthquake, resulting in the death of more than 6000 people and the destruction of tens of thousands of homes.
The Earthquake Memorial Museum, part of the Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution, was opened in 2002 to commemorate the tragic event and to educate visitors about disaster prevention and earthquakes. The museum includes a large screen theater with realistic images of the earthquake's destructiveness, a documentary film about the recovery process, lots of information about the earthquake and various interactive games about disaster prevention.
What to Eat in Hyougo
Kobe Beef is a prized Japanese delicacy and probably the most well-known regional specialty food in Japan. It is one of several breeds of Wagyu, or Japanese cattle, which are bred throughout the country and often associated with the area where they are raised. While Kobe Beef is the best known type of wagyu outside of Japan, there are many other breeds, such as Matsuzaka and Yonezawa Beef, that are equally or even more famous among Japanese gourmets. Himeji has been flourished as a Castletown around ever beautiful Himeji Castle which is a Japanese National Treasure, also known as Shirasagi-jo; Egret Castle, as well as a Himekawa, Himeji White Tanned Leather production area in the region of Harima which is old name of southwest Hyogo.
Akashiyaki is a small round dumpling from the city of Akashi in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. The dumpling is made of an egg-rich batter and octopus dipped into dashi (a thin fish broth) before eating. Locals refer to it simply as tamagoyaki ("grilled egg"). Modern style akashiyaki first started selling more than 100 years ago in the Taisho period by a yatai shopper Seitaro Mukai. There are over 70 akashiyaki shops in Akashi now.
Sobameshi is a stir fried noodles and boiled rice dish, originated in Kobe. Supposedly it was created when a customer asked the okonomiyaki chef to fry rice together with noodles. This was the beginning of sobameshi.
In central Kobe, you can try sobameshi at numerous different okonomiyaki shops. If you’ve only ever tried homemade or frozen sobameshi, try authentic sobameshi eaten with spatulas!