If you have already visited major tourist spots in Hyogo, why not start your trip from up-country region this time? This is the area packed with “hidden-gems” where you can feel culture nurtured by sceneries, life-styles and the climate in mountainous villages.
What’s more, add destinations such as “Ikuno Silver Mine”; a site getting popular as one of the World Heritage Sites and “Takeda Castle Ruins”; another site also getting famous on your destination list, and your trip will be even more fulfilling.
※Time schedule listed in this article are only for references for you to have an idea about staying time and time to travel.
① Explore Sasayama City around The Museum of Ceramic Art, Hyogo 10:10-
For a long time, there has been ceramics kiln in Sasayama City. In fact, this area is still a production place of “Tamba Ware” ceramics with over 800 years of history. Ceramics made at each factory are unique and casual enough for every day-use. It may be a good idea to go visit factories looking for your favorite.
What’s more, at “The Museum of Ceramic Art, Hyogo” with a stylish appearance, there are a wide variety of ceramics on display especially those made in Hyogo Prefecture. If you are interested in Japanese pottery, do not miss it out.
|Address||4 Kamitachikui, Konda-cho, Sasayama City, Hyogo|
|Hours||〈April through October〉10:00 – 19:00/ 〈November through March〉10:00 – 18:00|
|Closed on||Mondays, New Year’s Day and Year End|
②A restaurant in an old Japanese-style house (kominka) in Maruyama village 12:30-
〈Access from ① Leave on a rental car at 12:00〉
Drive for about 30 minutes from the Tamba ceramics area, and you will come across a peaceful village-scape. This is Maruyama Village with distinguishably clear water streams, wide-open farms and rice fields, and beautiful smiles of villagers. Once in the past, the total number of households in the village wend down to 4, but it stood up again after the villagers worked on revitalization of old Japanese-style houses in the area. Now there are inns and restaurants where you can feel “good-old Japan”. All the old houses revitalized are preserved in a way that offers nostalgic atmosphere. So would you like to sit down for seasonal dishes made with local ingredients at the restaurant?
|Address||30 Maruyama, Sasayama City, Hyogo|
③Izushi Soba Noodles & Izushi Eirakukan 15:40-
〈Access from ② Leave by the rental car at 14:10〉
Next destination is a large production area of Soba; one of the traditional Japanese food. There are more than approximately 50 soba noodle shops in the area. If this is going to be your first time to eat soba, it will be surprising to see soba served on 5 small plates. If you are in a group, your table will be covered by the plates! This is a very unique way to eat soba even in Japan, so please give it a try.
|Address||104-7 Izushichouchimachi, Toyooka City, Hyogo|
While in Izushi, let’s also go visit “Izushi Eirakukan”. This is the oldest still-existing theater in Kinki region. As a place that has supported people’s entertainment and culture for over 100 years, the theater is registered as one of Tangible Cultural Properties in Hyogo Prefecture. On top of observing retro theater, it’s also great that you can take a peek into the backstage where lots of tricks are installed.
|Address||17-2 Yanagi, Izushi-cho, Toyooka City, Hyogo|
|Closed on||Thursdays, Mondays, New Year’s day and Year End|
＜Izushi Soba & Izushi Eirakukan → Move to the area close to Takeda Castle Ruins and stay for a night ＞
Will be visiting the “Takeda Castle Remain” early in the morning tomorrow, so stay overnight around Asago City!
④ Takeda Castle Ruins 7:00-
〈Access Leave hotel at 6:00 and walk to the Takeda Castle Ruins〉
From a hotel to the Takeda Castle Ruins, it takes about 50 minutes and it is a good hiking course with the right distance. In fact, on bright sunny mornings in the fall, the ruins get surrounded by thick fogs. Many people hike the mountain early in the morning to see this mystical scenery that is often referred as “Castle in the Sky” and “Machu Pichu in Japan”.
What’s more, this is kind of a mountain that’s worth a visit in every season; cherry blossoms in spring and stunningly clear blue sky in summer. After getting rejuvenated by magnificent view, let’s go back to your hotel and enjoy breakfast.
|Address||169 Takeda Kojosan, Wadayama-cho, Asago City, Hyogo|
⑤ Ikuno Silver Mine & Town-scape of Ikuno 10:00-
〈Access from ④ Leave the hotel at 9:30 by the rental car〉
At Ikuno Silver Mine, which is the next destination, silver digging was performed for almost over 1,200 years. A tunnel tour to go observe mining field will excite your adventurous spirit. In addition, you will be also able to touch real “silver”. There is a corner where you can experience silver scoop and silver craft, and also touch the sample of genuine silver bullion that’s over 30kg.
|Address||33-5 Ono, Ikuno-cho, Asago City, Hyogo|
|Hours||9:00 – 17:00 ※Varies in a season|
|Closed||Tuesdays for 3 months in December through February|
After observing the silver mine, park your car near Ikuno station and go take a walk in the area. The historical townscape that still has a touch of once-booming-as-as-a silver mine town is calming.
⑥ Himeji Castle & Shoshazan Engyoji Temple 13:00-
〈Access from ⑤ Leave at 12:00 by the rental car〉
After arriving at Himeji; one of a few big cities in Hyogo, let’s have lunch and then head to “Himeji Castle”. Himeji Castle is a World Heritage that Hyogo Prefecture is proud of. A magnificent beauty of brilliantly white castle is a must-see site!
|Address||68 Honmachi, Himeji City, Hyogo|
Another place you cannot miss in Himeji is “Shoshazan Engyoji Temple”. This is a mountain top temple that Himeji is proud of. On top of the 371m high Shoshazan Mountain, there stands grand temple architecture. For its distinguished atmosphere, the temple has attracted movies and historical drama (jidaigeki) shootings including the movie “Last Samurai”. You can also try zazen meditation and shakyo (sutra transcription) at the temple too.
|Address||2968 Shosha, Himeji City, Hyogo|
⑦ $10 million Night View (Kikusei Dai; observation deck) 18:00-
〈Access from ⑥ Leave at 16:30 by the rental car〉
The highlight at the end of the trip is the magnificent night view. Drive the car to reach Kikusei Dai from where you can observe one of the best night views in Japan. For your information, on the way to the observation deck, there is a “No Entry” point over where general vehicles cannot go further up. So, before reaching that point, park your car at “Tennoji-mae” parking lot and walk for about 10 minutes from there. The lights of the city shine as if a jewelry box was turned upside down.
|Address||2-2 Mayasancho, Nada-ku, Kobe City, Hyogo|
After enjoying the night view, let’s go down the mountain and head to Kansai International Airport (arrive at 21:30).