A route recommended for those who visit Hyogo Prefecture for the first time goes around 3 areas in the prefecture including Himeji, Kinosaki and Kobe. This plan to visit these 3 areas is named “Hyogo Golden Route” and it is a recommended route by the prefectural government for travelers from overseas.
The route includes “Himeji Castle”, which has been long loved for its beauty, “Koko-en”; A Japanese garden getting popular as a tourist’s destination lately, “Kinosaki Onsen”; one of the most popular onsen areas in the nation, “Kobe beef”; worldly famous gourmet and “Kobe Port Cruise” that is a special activity only in a port town. Sceneries and activities that you can only experience in Hyogo are waiting for you.
We bet that after this 1 night & 2 days trip, you will be anxious to go back to Hyogo again!
※Time schedule listed in this article are only for references for you to have an idea about staying time and time to travel.
① Himeji Castle & Koko-en 12:00-
〈Access Leave Kansai International Airport at 10:00 and head to Himeji Castle by train.〉
If you ever visit Hyogo, you have to go to “Himeji Castle”.
Usually in Western countries, castles are made with bricks and stones. However in Japan, castle parts besides stone walls and moats are made with woods. In Fact, Himeji castle is registered as one of the World Heritage as the finest of wooden architectures.
In addition, one another unique trait of Himeji Castle is the fact that it has kept its original figure for nearly 400 years. What that means is that it has never been captured by enemies or has never been in fire. That itself is a miraculous fact. Castles in back those days are constructed especially to defense itself from enemies in battles, so it will be interesting to look for various traits made for that purpose.
Above all, what’s the most notable about Himeji Castle is its beauty. After the renovation that just finished in 2015, the white castle seems as if it was beaming. The castle looks great in contrast with blue sky, so we hope you will be able to find your best shot.
|Address||68 Honmachi, Himeji City, Hyogo|
The other place we want you to visit with Himeji Castle is “Koko-en”; a Japanese style garden that lies in the Southwest side of the castle.
The garden has approximately 3.5 ha stunning area and it is made of 9 different gardens that are each unique.
Each garden has its own charm in each of four seasons, and in the back of scenery stands the Himeji Castle that you just visited earlier. Take your time and walk around in the garden, and we bet it will give you fulfilling feelings.
In addition, in a large pond at “Oyashiki no Niwa (the garden of the Lord’s residence)”, which is one of the 9 gardens, there are Nishiki-goi (carp); aquarium fish that have been modified over several hundreds of years swimming around. This is definitely one of must-go spots in the garden.
Lastly, at a tea-ceremony house “Souju-an”, you can have a casual experience of Matcha; one of the most well-known name from Japanese tea culture. It is a great place to go visit for a break.
|Address||68 Honmachi, Himeji City, Hyogogo|
②Kinosaki Onsen 17:45-
〈Access from ① Leave Himeji station at 15:00 and get on a train to head to Kinosaki station〉
After exploring the historical asset of Japan, let’s get on a train to go over to Kinosaki where you will be staying overnight tonight. Kinosaki is an onsen town with nearly 1,300 years of history. Leave your baggage at an inn, and let’s go visit the onsen district.
By the way, one of the characteristics of Kinosaki Onsen is the existence of “sotoyu (onsen you can visit without staying at an inn)” that are spotted around the town. Each sotoyu has its own charm, and each of them is known to bring good fortune such as good luck, academic success, successful relationships, prosperous business and safe delivery of a child etc. So it’s up to you to take time and go visit all sotoyu, or choose some of them after learning each of their atmosphere and benefit. To go visit multiple onsen, a visitor’s pass called “Yumepa” offers a great deal of unlimited access for a day, so it’s something you should not miss. Also, when you go visit sotoyu, let’s get dressed in Japanese traditional costume, yukata and geta and get soaked in the unique atmosphere of the area.
After fully enjoying onsen and a walk in the area, then it`s time to go back to the inn and have dinner. Tajima area where Kinosaki Onsen is known for gourmet foods delivered both from mountains and ocean. We bet that you will be able to savor delicious dishes made with fresh ingredients in each season.
|Address||357-1 Yushima, Kinosaki Onsen, Toyooka City, Hyogo|
Now, let’s enjoy the 2nd day of “Hyogo Golden Route” tour.
③Kobe Beef lunch & Kobe Port Cruising 12:30-
〈Access from ② Leave Kinosaki station at 11:00 and get on a train to Sannomiya station〉
Enjoy exploring the area in the morning, and head to the next destination before noon. Next we are going to Kobe City; the central city in Hyogo. The city has a long history as a port town, and in 2017, they celebrated their 150th anniversary since they opened the port.
Given its history as an international port, the culture in the city is very international. In such city, what we recommend the most to try out for lunch is the ever-famous “Kobe Beef”.
Elegantly sweet red meat matches well with savor and aroma of fat. This is a gourmet loved by politicians, royal officials and Hollywood celebrities. The good news is though, for lunch, they are often offered at relatively reasonable prices, so why not choose a famous and fancy restaurant?
After getting full, let’s take a walk and explore the area till you get to the next destination; Kobe Port.
Since this is a city that started operating as an international port at an early stage of the history, you can see how uniquely Japanese and foreign cultures merged here.
One of the recommended activities while at the port is to get on a cruise boat. Depending on which boat to take, there are various activities you can enjoy but whichever you choose, there are a lot to do. Some examples are observing a dockyard and Kobe city-scape from a boat, relaxing at a café on a boat and going under a huge bridge.
|Address||Hatobacho, Chuo-ku, Kobe City, Hyogo|
On the way back, take a walk from Kobe Port to Sannomiya station and from there, take a train back to Kansai International Airport.