Breathtaking mountain views, pristine beaches, world-renowned national parks, stunning heritage sights and great food, the Hyogo Prefecture is a traveller’s paradise. Situated centrally with easy access by road, rail network, and sea, this bow shaped prefecture is often referred to as the gateway of Japan to the world. Whether it is the historic and cultural treasures you yearn to see or the simple life in a picturesque fishing village, Hyogo can tick off these items on your bucketlist like few other destinations can.
Reasons to visit Hyogo Prefecture
From the Japan sea in the north to the Seto Island in the south, Hyogo offers you a unique opportunity to experience a wide range of climates, cultures, traditions, and landscapes. Watch history come alive through well-preserved castles and ruins like the Takeda, Izushi, and Akashi castles. Hike or take a cable car.
The view at the top of mountains like Mount Maya will leave you spellbound. Foodies rejoice! This is home to the world-famous Kobe beef. You must also try the Akashiyaki, a dumpling made of octopus and egg batter or delicious pork buns. Wash it down with delicious Sake wine. Or better, learn how it’s made with a tour to a sake brewery. You will not be disappointed.
Things to do at Hyogo
Located between the coast and the mountains, this historic port city and the capital of the Hyogo prefecture has something for everyone. Enjoy the panoramic views of the region from the top of Mount Rokko, 931m above sea level. Hop aboard the Rokko Arima ropeway for a 12-minute unforgettable ride to the Arima Onsen hot springs. Gold water springs or silver ones, take your pick!
Craving for a quiet moment of introspection? Head over to the beautiful Ikuta Shrine, whose serene surroundings are soaked in history.
The centrepiece of this lovely place is the sprawling Himeji castle, regarded as the best example of Japanese castle architecture. Nestled on hilltop and shaped like a bird, this must-see white castle is a UNESCO world heritage site.
At a short walk from the castle is the Koko-en garden consisting of nine walled gardens. Have a green tea in a tea ceremony house and stroll around the pond, waterfall, bamboo and flower gardens. Travelling with kids? Take them to the Himeji Central Park. You will always remember the priceless joy on their faces as they enjoy the safari tour, aerial ropeway ride, and amusement rides.
Visit Engyoji, a Buddhist temple on Mount Shosha, with enchanting forest views, captured in films like ‘The Last Samurai’ and top up the experience with a climbing expedition up Mount Seppiko.
3. Awaji Island
Epicentre of the deadly Kobe earthquake in 1995, this island symbolizes the resilient Japanese spirit. Drive across Akashi Kaikyo, the longest suspension bridge in the world to get here. Turn back the clock and experience the simple life with a visit to an onion farm or a freshwater fish cultivation.
The area’s fresh air pairs beautifully with a hike upto the Sumoto Castle. Soak your feet at the Matsuho-no-yu hot springs and get a commanding view of the beautifully lit Akashi Kaikyo Bridge. For the best sunset view, head to Keino Matsubara beach and enjoy nature at its best as you tuck into the prefecture’s delicious Kobe beef burgers.
Welcome to the home of stork conservation. Blessed with mountains, lush forest cover, the serene Maruyama river and San’in Kaigan, a UNESCO Global Geopark, Toyooka has many hidden wonders. One such treasure is Kinosaki, a quaint hot springs town whose cozy streets and river lined with willow and cherry blossoms may be just the prescription you need.
Spring is the best time to visit as it is a scenic point to view cherry blossoms. At a 30-minute drive from here lie the ruins of the Izushi Castle. Visit the Kabuki theatre for a fascinating look into the region’s performing arts. Don’t forget to have the local delicacy while you’re here – lip smacking soba noodles served in small porcelain plates. Adventure seekers, head to the Genbudo caves, a natural wonder where five caves were formed by the cooling of lava after a volcano eruption in the area.
To understand the passion Japanese have for baseball, you must visit the Hanshin Koshien stadium. Get into the fervour as thousands of fans cheer for their team, the Hanshin tigers, in an impressively built ball park. For a glimpse into the rich local traditions, go to the Nishinomiya shrine, venue of the famous running race held in January where the champion is crowned as the ‘luckiest man’.
Or take the other route. Sit back and admire the flora at the Kitayama botanical garden. Hire a bike or strap on your hiking gear, the top of Mount Kabuto is the perfect picnic spot.
Love your cherry blossom gatherings? Shukugawa Park with the river flowing around is where you should be. Making new friends, trying out scrumptious local food, it doesn’t get better than this.
Interesting facts about Hyogo
- The gold water at Arima Onsen hot springs is said to cure skin ailments while the silver water is believed to cure muscle and joint pain.
- In December every year, Kobe holds a Luminaire festival where over 2,00,000 hand painted lights donated by the Italian government are lit to honour lives lost during the Hanshin earthquake of 1995.
Staying in Hyogo
When you are in Hyogo, a short visit will never do justice to your spirit of exploration. We have the perfect places for you to enjoy your stay. HomeAway and Destination Management Organization (DMO) have partnered to refurnish old historic houses and convert them to holiday homes. They make for an ideal setting for your adventurous holiday here.
1.Akari historic villa
When in Japan, can history be far behind? Stay up close with history at this property that is nearly 150 years old. At the outskirts of the Maruyama Village, this renovated Akari villa is located on the top of a hill and gives serenity a whole new meaning. You can nestle into quiet comfort by the firewood stove and forget the frenzy of the world. While you can cook your own meals at the attached kitchen, pickup services are also available to drive you to the nearest restaurant.
Average price per night: SGD 620
2. Stylish log house with shuttle
Near one of the oldest Onsen villages in Japan, your stay at this stylish log house makes it uber convenient to explore west Japan up close. The host lets you in on the popular local hideaways and helps you out with your itinerary. With pick-ups from the station readily available, getting here is no trouble. You also have an option to rent a car and visit Mt. Rokko and the neighbourhood that surrounds it.
Average price per night: SGD 383
3. Traditional Japanese home
A Japan holiday can never be complete without an experience of the Japanese bath. The traditional bathing ritual holds deep significance in Japanese society, and a stay at this minimalist, classy home allows you to enjoy the joys of a Japanese Cypress bath. This Japanese bathroom comes with different spaces for bath, shower, sink and the bathtub is deeper and smaller than western ones you may be accustomed to. Reading up on how this works gives you a great insight on the culture of Japan and ensures you make no cultural faux pas.
With BBQ facilities and karaoke available at this home, there is no reason for not having a party at this HomeAway.
Average price per night: SGD 426
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