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Hyogo: Port Cities, Castles, and Hot Springs

Hyogo features Kobe's vibrant port, Himeji Castle, historic hot springs, delicious Izushi Sara Soba, and Awaji Island's fresh produce and fish.

Where is Hyogo?

Hyogo Prefecture, bordered by the Sea of Japan to the north and the Seto Inland Sea and Pacific Ocean to the south, boasts a rich natural environment and diverse climate.

The prefectural capital, Kobe, is an internationally renowned port city. Major attractions include the World Heritage Site Himeji Castle and historic hot spring resorts like Arima and Kinosaki. Izushi in Toyooka City is famous for its Izushi Sara Soba, while Awaji Island is known for its fresh produce and fish.

Hyogo's economy thrives on manufacturing, agriculture, and fishing, and the region is culturally vibrant with numerous traditional festivals and performing arts.

Kobe Area

About 3 hours from Tokyo station by trains.

Kobe Kitano Ijinkan Gai

Kitano Ijinkan Gai is a historical district located in Kobe City. With the opening of the port in the late 19th century, this district became home to many foreigners. They built beautiful Western-style residences, and the area came to be known as "Ijinkan.

In Ijinkan Street, there remain buildings reflecting the architectural styles of various countries, such as the British, Dutch, and French pavilions, each of which is open to the public as a museum, café, or store. Visitors can enjoy the exotic streetscape and feel the atmosphere of the foreign settlement at that time. In addition, the beautiful view of Kobe's harbor and the unique charm of the mixture of Western and Japanese cultures are the major attractions of the Kitano Ijinkan Gai.

Kobe Kitano Ijinkan Gai


Nankin-machi is a Chinatown located in the city of Kobe. The area began to form after the opening of the Port of Kobe in 1868, attracting many Chinese to conduct commercial activities.

Known for its bright red and gold gates, Nankin-machi is lined with stores selling a wide variety of Chinese cuisine, Chinese tea, traditional sweets, and souvenirs. Visitors can enjoy authentic Chinese cuisine, dim sum, Peking duck, and other delicacies, as well as lively street performances and seasonal events.

Nankin-machi is also famous for its traditional Chinese festivals, such as Chinese New Year and Mid-Autumn Festival, which attract especially large crowds of visitors during these times. With its vibrant atmosphere and cultural diversity, Nankin-machi is one of the must-see destinations when visiting Kobe.


Meriken Park

Meriken Park is a seaside park in Kobe. The park is located in the historic area of the Port of Kobe and is known for its beautiful views of the ocean and the city skyline.

The park contains a monument to the 1995 Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake and the Earthquake Museum, which serves as a memorial to those who died in the disaster and a place to pass on the lessons learned. There are also hotels, museums, and cafes of modern design scattered throughout the park, providing a place for relaxation and cultural experiences for locals and visitors alike.

Meriken Park, with its beautiful walkways, plazas, and waterfront views, is one of Kobe's most popular recreation and sightseeing spots, and frequently hosts events and concerts.

Meriken Park

Ikuta Shrine

Ikuta Shrine is an old shrine located in Kobe with a history of about 1,800 years. The shrine is a well-known guardian deity of Kobe and a place of spiritual support for the local people.

The grounds include a beautiful garden and pond, where visitors can enjoy the natural beauty of the four seasons. In addition, many festivals and events are held throughout the year, such as the New Year's Hatsumode and the Autumn Festival, attracting many worshippers.

Ikuta Shrine, which maintains a quiet and serene atmosphere despite its location in the center of the city, is a popular spot for both Kobe citizens and tourists alike.

Ikuta Shrine

Mt. Rokko

Mt. Rokko is a mountain range located in Kobe City, with its highest peak at 931 meters above sea level. It is in an excellent location overlooking the city of Kobe and Osaka Bay, and is popular for outdoor activities such as hiking, nature observation, and skiing in winter.

At the top of Mt. Rokko, visitors can enjoy spectacular views from the observatory, and on clear days, they can even see as far as Shikoku and Awaji Island in the distance. At night, the night view is so beautiful that it is said to be worth one million dollars. The Rokko Garden Terrace facility also offers a wide variety of restaurants and stores, providing visitors with dining and shopping options.

Access is convenient by cable car and ropeway from downtown Kobe, allowing visitors to enjoy the ride to the top of the mountain. The area is rich in nature yet close to the city, making it an ideal spot for a day trip.

Mt Rokko

Arima Hot Spring

Arima Onsen is one of the oldest hot springs in Japan, located in Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. This hot spring is known for its two different types of spring water, known as kinsen and ginsen. Kinsen, named for its color, is reddish-brown hot spring water with a high iron content, while ginsen is clear and colorless and rich in carbonates.

Arima Onsen has long been called "the best hot spring under heaven," and has been loved by many military commanders and writers. There are many quaint inns and hotels in the hot spring resort area, as well as a variety of day-trip bathing facilities. There are also historical shrines and nature-rich walking trails in the surrounding area, allowing visitors to enjoy not only bathing in the hot springs but also sightseeing and recreation.

Access is easy from downtown Kobe by bus or train, making it suitable for a day trip from Osaka or Kyoto. As a result, it is a popular hot spring resort that attracts many tourists from Japan and abroad.

Arima Hot Spring

Awaji Island

Awaji Island is blessed with beautiful scenery of the Seto Inland Sea and a mild climate, and is attractive for its rich nature and seafood. The island is known for its agricultural products such as onions and carrots, and fresh seafood such as sea bream and squid, which can be enjoyed in local cuisine. Flower cultivation is also thriving, and the island is decorated with seasonal flowers.

Awaji Island is rich in nature experiences, and outdoor activities such as camping, cycling, and hiking can be enjoyed.

Access to the island is located just across the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge from Kobe, and the beautiful natural environment and local culture can be experienced, making the island a favorite destination for many tourists.

Awaji Island

Kobe Beef

Kobe beef is a type of Japanese beef raised in the Kobe area and is especially appreciated for its high quality and flavor. This beef is characterized by its extremely tender and beautifully marbled texture, with a very fine fat that melts in the mouth.

Kobe beef can be enjoyed in a variety of dishes such as steak, shabu-shabu, and sukiyaki. Its elegant flavor is highly regarded by gourmets in Japan and abroad, and it is considered one of Japan's representative luxury foods.

Kobe Beef

Himeji Area

About 1 hour from Kobe station by trains.

Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle, located in Himeji City, is one of Japan's representative castles and is registered as a World Heritage site. The castle, also known as "Shirasagijo" (White Egret Castle), is known for its beautiful white exterior and elegant architectural style.

Himeji Castle is considered a masterpiece of Japanese castle architecture, characterized by its beautiful design as well as its complex defensive features. The castle stands on a vast site, with many gates, walls, and moats cleverly arranged. Inside, important buildings such as the Honmaru Goten remain, and are of great historical value. The gardens surrounding the castle are also well maintained, allowing visitors to enjoy the natural beauty of the four seasons.

Because of its well-preserved condition and historical importance, Himeji Castle is a popular attraction visited by many history buffs and tourists.

Himeji Castle


Koko-en is a Japanese garden located in Himeji City, Hyogo Prefecture, adjacent to the west side of Himeji Castle. The garden is a beautiful Japanese-style garden set against the backdrop of Himeji Castle, and is known as a place where visitors can enjoy the natural beauty of the seasons.

Visitors can enjoy strolling in the quiet and tranquil atmosphere, or experience an authentic tea ceremony in the garden's tea house. The garden is also loved by many tourists and local residents throughout the year for its beautiful cherry blossoms in the spring and autumn leaves in the fall, allowing visitors to experience the changes in nature with each season.

Koko-en is attractive not only for its beauty, but also as a place where visitors can experience Japanese history and culture in depth by visiting together with Himeji Castle.


Mt. Shosha

Mt. Shosha is a mountain in Himeji City and is especially known for the Engyoji Temple located near its summit. Engyoji Temple is an ancient temple founded in the Heian period (794-1185) and is surrounded by beautiful nature.

Visitors can enjoy the scenery of the four seasons as they walk along the approach to the temple. Especially during the fall foliage season, the temple attracts many tourists for its beauty. Engyoji Temple has also been used as a filming location for the movie “The Last Samurai” and is a popular spot for movie fans.

Access is by bus from downtown Himeji, which takes about 30 minutes, followed by a ropeway or on foot to the top of the mountain. It is loved by many visitors as a place where they can feel nature and history.

Mt Shosya

Himeji Central Park

Himeji Central Park is a leisure complex located in Himeji City. The park features unique attractions that combine a safari park and an amusement park, making it a popular spot for families and tourists.

In the safari park portion of the park, visitors can tour the animals' living areas by car or special bus and observe a variety of wild animals up close, including lions, elephants, and giraffes. The amusement park area also has attractions such as roller coasters and Ferris wheels that can be enjoyed by both young children and adults.

Many seasonal events are offered throughout the year, such as cherry blossom viewing in spring, swimming pools in summer, and illumination in winter. Himeji Central Park is well known by many visitors as a facility where they can enjoy active fun with animals and attractions.

Safari Park

Kinosaki Area

About 3 hours from Kobe station by trains.

Kinosaki Hot Spring

Kinosaki Onsen has a history of over 1,300 years and is especially known for its out-spa baths. Visitors can enjoy the seven public bathhouses while wearing a yukata and strolling through the town.

The charm of this hot spring resort also lies in its retro townscape and quaint riverside scenery. In winter, the area is famous for its crab dishes, and visitors can enjoy fresh local seafood. Kinosaki Marine World, Genbudo Cave, and other tourist attractions are also nearby and popular with families and couples.

Traffic can be directly accessed from Osaka and Kyoto, and the area is especially crowded with tourists during the season of autumn leaves and cherry blossoms from fall to spring. This is a recommended spot for those who want to enjoy nature and hot springs.

Kinosaki Hot Spring

Kinosaki Onsen Ropeway

The Kinosaki Onsen Ropeway departs from Kinosaki Onsen Hot Spring Resort and leads to the top of the 400-meter-high Mt. From the top, visitors can enjoy spectacular views of Kinosaki Onsen Town, the Sea of Japan, and the mountains in the distance.

At the top of the mountain, there is an observatory and a café where visitors can take a break while enjoying the beauty of nature. It is a popular spot to enjoy the colorful scenery, especially during the fall foliage season. This ropeway is one of the attractions you must experience when visiting Kinosaki Onsen.

Kinosaki Hot Spring Ropeway

Genbudo Cave

Genbudo Cave is formed of cool basalt, a very interesting geological feature. Basalt is a rock formed when magma cools and hardens, and the columnar basalt found here is particularly unique.

The interior of the cave has a fantastic atmosphere, with illuminated rock walls and oddly shaped rocks creating a mystical view. Visitors can walk through the cool cave and feel the history of the earth and the power of nature.

Genbudo Cave is especially recommended for nature lovers and those interested in geology, and is also ideal for educational tours. Visitors to Kinosaki Onsen can enjoy the serenity and beauty of nature in a place that differs from the bustle of the hot spring resort area.

Genbudo Cave

Onsenji Temple

Onsenji Temple is a historical temple located in the Kinosaki hot spring resort area. The temple is said to have been established to pray for the health and safety of the spa's guests, and is deeply connected to Kinosaki's history as a hot springs resort.

Onsenji Temple is especially known for its beautiful garden, where visitors can enjoy the changing nature of the four seasons. Visitors can relax both body and soul in the quiet and serene environment. The temple also has a footbath using hot spring water, which visitors can use free of charge.

This temple is valuable not only as a place for visitors to Kinosaki Onsen to bathe in the hot springs, but also as a place to seek spiritual healing. Therefore, when you visit Kinosaki Onsen, we recommend that you also experience a moment at Onsenji Temple.

Onsenji Temple

Izushi Sara Soba

Izushi Sara Soba is a local food of the Izushi area. Unique to this area, soba is served in small portions on small plates. Usually, five to ten plates are served in a set, and it is common to order more.

Soba is thinly sliced, smooth, and served with bonito-dashi broth. The sweetness of the sauce makes it a perfect match for the soba. When eating Izushi Sara Soba, it is recommended to add a little condiment to each plate to enjoy the change in flavor.

When visiting the Izushi area, there are many soba restaurants where you can taste this unique soba dish, providing a great opportunity to experience the local culture and traditions. Izushi Sara Soba is known as a popular gourmet dish among tourists from Japan and abroad.

Izushi Sara Soba