5 Things to do on a Day Trip to Hyogo

by Luke

A stoll in the mountains, a nice long soak in a famous hot spring bath, or a wander around an UNESCO World Heritage castle, and one of the most easily recognised in the whole of Japan. Hyogo offers plenty for you to see and do during your trip to Japan, and is ideal for a one or two day sightseeing trip. Here are five of the best things to do whilst you visit Hyogo:

Mount Maya

5 Things to do on a Day Trip to Hyogo

(image by upload.wikimedia.org)

Mount Maya is located in the center of the Rokko Mountains which have been loved by tourists for activities such as hiking. You can easily make your way up from the city to the peak by using the Maya Cableway and the Maya Ropeway, known together as the Maya View Line, so people who are not into mountain climbing can rest easy. From inside the Maya View Line, you can get a panoramic view of Osaka Bay, and the line is that little-known spot where you can get that close-up feeling of nature on the mountain. This is especially recommended for those who want to really enjoy the scenery at leisure. From the Kikuseidai observation point at the top of Mt. Maya at 609m, you can see Kobe and even out to Osaka. Moreover, the view at night spreads out in front of your eyes and glitters like a jewel box, but you can also get a different expression of Kobe during the day. It is an amazing view from Mt. Maya that has been known as one of Japan’s Three Great Nightscapes, so enjoy that romantic moment up there.

The night view from Mt. Maya certainly has a breathtaking beauty that would make anyone swoon. However, it’s also recommended to take in the lush nature of Mt. Maya underneath that blue sky. The truly plentiful greenery surrounding Mt. Maya is incredible. Starting from Maya Nature Park, there are other numerous tourist spots where you can take a leisurely stroll such as Tenjo-ji Temple and the atmospheric Lake Hodaka. Of course, there is also that grand view from the mountain of Kobe and Osaka during the daytime. How about easing that fatigue from traveling as you enjoy the wonderful scenery in the clean air?

Admission: Adult: ¥ 800 / Child: ¥ 440

Guidebook from Planetyze about Mount Maya
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Mount Maya
Tours of Mount Maya

Himeji Castle

5 Things to do on a Day Trip to Hyogo

(image by upload.wikimedia.org)

Himeji Castle is famous for having been recognized as a National Treasure and an Important Cultural Property due to its beauty among the numerous castles in Japan and its keep (the largest central structure on the castle grounds) that has retained its appearance from the Edo Era. Having been registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site, it was the first time that Japan had been given this honor. Due to its pure white exterior and the surrounding area where many wild birds resided, it was also called Shirasagi-jo (White Heron Castle). The contrast between the linked castle keep constructed from multiple roof layers and the pure white exterior is exquisite. Also, there is another reason besides its beauty which explains its status as one of the famous castles of Japan. The reason lies in its construction. In the past, a castle’s quality placed great importance on how well the demarcation of the castle grounds were constructed. Himeji Castle possessed a spiral demarcation that was unusual in Japan, and it is said that it had fortifications meant for a high castle such as Edo Castle. The castle which was known as Japan’s most beautiful underwent a major restoration from 2009 to May 2015, and the exterior walls that had been painted in white lime plaster were beautifully reborn over time. Its profile has further increased since its grand opening. By all means, please come to Himeji Castle which has been able to keep its valuable presence while many other historic structures ended up burning down in war.

Admission: Adult: ¥ 1,000 / Child: ¥ 300

Guidebook from Planetyze about Himeji Castle
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Himeji Castle
Tours of Himeji Castle

Takeda Castle

5 Things to do on a Day Trip to Hyogo

(image by upload.wikimedia.org)

The ruins of the castle known as Japan’s Macchu Picchu are at the peak of Mt. Gojo in the southern part of the nature-filled Tajima Region in Asago City, Hyogo Prefecture. At an altitude of 353.7m, Mt. Gojo has also been called Torafusujou or Kogajou (Lying Tiger Mountain) since its shape seems to resemble that of a tiger lying down. However, the castle no longer exists with the remains of its stone walls continuing to relate its long history. Even so, one reason behind the ruins’ continuing charm for people even now is the wondrous scenery that has been created from the topography.  

In the early mornings with their fine sunrises from autumn to winter, when the morning fog which rises from the river deeply enshrouds the mountain, the peak where the ruins of Takeda Castle are located is surrounded by a splendid wide sea of clouds. That scene is exactly like a castle in the sky which has been called Japan’s Macchu Picchu Ruins.  

There are many unknowns surrounding the history of the castle, but it’s been said that around 1441-1443, the military governor-turned-feudal lord Otagaki constructed Takeda Castle. However during the age of warfare known as the Warring States Era, the castle couldn’t avoid the wartime destruction and ended up facing a number of battles. In 1580, under orders of the shogun Nobunaga Oda, Takeda Castle was invaded and fell, and Otagaki’s influence was ended. Hirohide Akamatsu became the new ruler of the castle and began reconstruction which successfully completed the castle’s expansion. Currently, the castle remains are from what Akamatsu constructed. However, his reign was brief, and in 1600, he was on the losing side at the pivotal Battle of Sekigahara at the end of the Warring States Era and was forced to commit seppuku. Another new ruler was found but afterwards in the new Edo Era, the castle was given the order to be abandoned by the shogunate.  

Even with its heroic history during the Warring States Era, the castle has remained abandoned among the soaring beautiful mountains. This timeless story has been colored by a beautiful fog of the first order and continues to inspire the hearts of people.

Looking up to this mountaintop castle from below, the appearance of floating in the clouds is wonderful, but while climbing the mountain, the scene of river fog covering the mountain road in the distance is also beautiful. As an abandoned castle, the beauty of the view seen from the remaining stone walls further highlights the sad historical evidence. If you are yearning to see this beautiful fog, aim for November and check that the temperature during the day before you go is relatively high as the night cools down, and then head out the next morning. The river going downstream will cool down due to the difference in temperature and the lovely fog will form. Also, in recent years, the area has been recognized as a place for lovers, so it would be a great place to visit with that special someone. However, please note that during winter between December and March, the mountain is closed to entry due to snow.

Admission: Various

Guidebook from Planetyze about Takeda Castle
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Takeda Castle
Tours of Takeda Castle 

Kinosaki Onsen 

5 Things to do on a Day Trip to Hyogo

(image by upload.wikimedia.org)

Kinosaki Onsen which is located in Hyogo Prefecture, is an onsen village which has a history dating from the Heian Era whose old-fashioned and profound townscape is another attractive point. Kinosaki’s distinguishing feature of its open-air baths is arranged so that you can tour each one of them in the center of town. When you reach your accommodations, change into your yukata and quickly get out into Kinosaki. The 7 open-air baths of Kinosaki Onsen consist of Ichino-yu, Goshono-yu, Mandara-yu, Satono-yu, Yanagi-yu, Jizou-yu and Kouno-yu. This style of open-air bath in which you can enjoy the atmosphere of the hot springs and the town while walking and touring these 7 onsen was started here, and it can be said that it is the best way to enjoy Kinosaki. The open-air baths each have their own effects and history. You can search for the one that you prefer such as Yanagi-yu which is famed for its effectiveness on pregnancy, easy childbirth and child-rearing, and Kouno-yu which is effective for a great marriage and youth & long life. Also at Kinosaki Onsen, there are many ryokan (Japanese-style inns). You can select the accommodations that match your needs from a gorgeous ryokan that has a large public bath with a Japanese garden and outdoor bath, a ryokan where you can enjoy Kinosaki’s specialty dish of crab, a ryokan where you can enjoy the full view of the mood of the townscape from your room to a hotel where you can sleep in a room with a bed instead of a Japanese-style tatami room.

Taking a relaxing walk in your yukata through the onsen village is also another way to enjoy yourself that is distinctive to Kinosaki. Beginning from the diners and restaurants, you can also stop off at cafes & sweets shops where you can eat and walk around, and do some shopping on the street where you can purchase souvenirs and seafood. At Kinosaki Onsen, yukata is provided which has a different style at each ryokan. After selecting the one you like among the many that are available and taking that stroll, you can experience that serene atmosphere only found in Japan’s onsen villages.

Admission: Various

Guidebook from Planetyze about Kinosaki Onsen 
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Kinosaki Onsen 
Tours of Kinosaki Onsen 

Arima Onsen 

5 Things to do on a Day Trip to Hyogo

(image by upload.wikimedia.org)

Arima Onsen is a venerable hot spring that has been admired by the Imperial Family and the nobility for centuries. It was named in the famous Heian Era book, “The Pillow Book” as one of the three famous springs of Japan, and during the Edo Era, it was selected as the most prestigious hot spring on the rankings for onsen, and it continues to be so proud of its status and tradition that it represents the best of the onsen in the Kansai area. The Arima Onsen village located at the foot of Mt. Rokko and surrounded by the grand nature of Momiji Valley is brilliantly colored by the sakura of spring and the changing leaves of autumn. And in the summer, fireflies that usually only appear in a beautiful environment can be seen here. The village is also recommended for its vista in winter when it is enveloped in a pure white snowscape. Take a leisurely stroll through the onsen village that has that hint of nostalgia through features such as the bright red Nenebashi Bridge in the heart of the village and the Onsen Temple which is at the heart of the ever-changing expressions of nature throughout the year.

At Arima Onsen, there are many public baths which you can enjoy with ease for their high-quality waters. Among these, there are the famous Gold Spring and the Silver Spring. At the Gold Spring, you can enjoy the famous waters of the kinsen. The kinsen has a high saline content to warm your body at its core and treat any skin problems. Next to the kinsen is the free foot bath. On the other hand, the Silver Spring has the famous waters of the ginsen, which are odorless and tasteless and are noted for their silky quality. They are effective on ailments such as neurological pain, and if drunk, they promote a good appetite. The onsen is popular for its calm Japanese-style interior. A day trip can also be recommended to tourists to visit the various public baths which can be used easily.

Outside of the onsen, you can also enjoy places such as the Arima Toys & Automata Museum which has a display of about 4000 toys and the various souvenir shops which sell old traditional items of Arima such as doll writing brushes and Arima baskets.

Admission: Various

Guidebook from Planetyze about Arima Onsen 
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Arima Onsen 
Tours of Arima Onsen 

29 Nov 2015

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