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Japan Regional Information

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Sunny and moderate Seto Inland Sea coastline - San-in Kaigan Coast National Park with a complex and varied coastline
Hyogo prefecture is situated in the western part of Kinki region(Midwest Japan) facing Seto Inland Sea to the south and the Sea of Japan to the north. There are scenic places like Seto Inland Sea National Park, San-in Kaigan Coast National Park, Rokko Mountains and Awaji-shima Island. It also has numerous cultural heritage represented by Himeji Castle which is a World Cultural Heritage.

Seto-naikai coastline enjoys sunny, moderate weather and it has big cities such as Kobe with one of the leading trading ports in Japan, the Kobe Port, and castle city Himeji, as well as Mt. Rokko-san area known as a health resort. Kobe that is the core of the prefecture's administration and economy is an exotic port city. On Port Island, an artificial land floating in the Kobe Port, is the International Convention Center. The meridian line at 135 degrees east longitude runs through Akashi and Japanese Standard Time is measured according to this line.

Coastline on the Japan Sea side that belongs to San-in Kaigan Coast National Park reveals complex and varied scenery. At Tajimamihoura and Kasumi beaches you can see formative arts of intricate coastline, washed reef, and cave mouth created by rough wave of the Japan Sea.

Getting there
About 3 hours 10 minutes from Tokyo Station to Shin Kobe Station by Tokaido Sanyo Shinkansen Line. About 15 minutes from Shin Osaka Station.

  • San-no-miya
    The biggest shopping quarter of Kobe, the port city, with easy transportation access
    San-no-miya, the biggest shopping quarter of Kobe, is located on the west bank of Ikuta-gawa River. It is not only popular as a place for shopping and dining, but also a very important transportation hub for many train lines which come into San-no-miya; JR Tokaido Honsen Line, Subway Yamanote Line, Hanshin Honsen Line, Hankyu-Kobe Honsen Line and Kobe Shin-kotsu Port Island Line. Underground shopping street with easy transportation access, San-chika Town has over 130 shops, varying from boutique fashion goods to restaurants. The open floor gives a bright atmosphere to this shopping area.

    Flower Road is a 50-meter wide road that stretches southward from San-no-miya Station. There are a Flower Clock, fountains and sculptures among the trees. Higashi-yuenchi Amusement Park used to be the exclusive playground for foreigners and is the birthplace of modern sports. The 550 meter long arcade between Flower Road and Moto-machi on the south-west of the station is called the San-no-miya Center. Boutiques, stores selling imported goods, bakeries, cake shops, big shopping buildings and restaurants make San-no-miya Center one of the big shopping areas representative of Kobe. San-no-miya-jinja Shrine, from which the name "San-no-miya" has derived, is located in the south of the Center.

    Getting there
    From Tokyo Station, 2 hours 30 minutes by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line to Shin-Osaka Station. From Shin-Osaka Station, 30 minutes by JR Tokaido Honsen Line to San-no-miya Station.


  • Kitano-machi
    An exotic district with old western style houses - Hilly street of Yamanote
    Kitano is a town on the hills north of San-no-miya. In the late 19th century, foreigners who moved from Kobe, built their houses in a western style in memory of their homes, on the high hills of Yamanote overlooking the sea. The street that runs from east to west of Kitano is called Ijinkan-dori Street or the Foreigner House Street, and is the main street of Kitano. Fudo-zaka, that stretches from the east end of Ijinkan-dori Street towards north, and Hunter-zaka that runs north from the middle of Ijinkan-dori Street, are lined with sophisticated boutiques and international cuisine restaurants.

    In the area around Kitano-dori Street, that runs from east to west on the northern side of Kitano, many foreigners built their houses between the 19th and early 20th century. These houses called Ijinkan, the foreigners' houses, and are designated as National Important Cultural Properties. In particular, Kazamidori-no-yakata or the Weathercock House, is typical of Kitano. The architectural style of Rain-no-yakata, a National Important Cultural Property, is typical of a foreigner's house. Uroko-no-ie has a characteristic wall of scale-like design, and its antique furniture and collection of western porcelain is famous. Its first floor is open to the public as a tea-room. A number of these buildings, along with their collections, are open to the public, as in the case of Yamate-hachiban-kan, once owned by a Spaniard, in which Spanish armor and shields and furniture from the Middle Ages are exhibited.

    Getting there
    From Tokyo Station, 3 hours 10 minutes by JR Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen Line to Shin-Kobe Station. From Shin-Osaka Station, 15 minutes. From Shin-Kobe Station, take subway Yamate Line to San-no-miya Station, 2 minutes.


  • Nada Go-go
    A region of sake, representative of Japan - Sake-tasting corner in shiryo-kan museums
    Nada is in the south-eastern part of Hyogo. Nada Go-go is the generic name of 5 areas that lie within 12 kilometers between Kobe and Nishinomiya; Nishi-go, Mikage-go, Uozaki-go, Nishinomiya-go and Imazu-go. Uozaki-go is in the south of Uozaki Station by Hankyu Honsen Line, and along the so-called Sakagura-no-michi, or Sake Brewery Street, which stretches to the west, many sake(rice wine) breweries stand side by side. There were three reasons for the development of sake brewing in the 18th century that made the name of Nada known throughout Japan. One was the discovery of miya-mizu, excellent quality water for making sake; two, the production of rice of high quality, an ingredient in sake; and three, a convenient location for transportation by sea.

    Most of the brewers have their own museums(shiryo-kan) to introduce the process of sake brewing and information on production of sake. In the factory of the Hama-fuku-tsuru Brewery, rice is polished to less than 60%, fermented at low temperature, then brewed. Visitors can watch the process of sake brewing using new equipment through the glass window and then try sake at the tasting corner.

    Getting there
    From Tokyo Station, 2 hours 30 minutes by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line to Shin-Osaka Station. From Shin-Osaka Station, 37 minutes to Nada Station by JR Kobe Line.


  • Moto-machi
    Asian shops and restaurants are gathered - Awaji-shima Island can be seen in the distance from the Port Tower
    Moto-machi is a lively town perfect for shopping, gourmet food and night spots in the center of Kobe. Under Kobe Station is a maze of shopping streets and above ground, a big shopping arcade . The unique event is the Shunsetsu-matsuri Festival at Nankin-machi, that celebrates the Chinese New Year at the end of January or in early February. Nankin-machi has many Asian shops and Asian restaurants.

    On the sea-side of Moto-machi is Kobe-ko Chuo Tsutsumi, or the Central Dike, on which many landmarks of Kobe are built, for example, Kobe Port Tower. Kobe Kakyo Rekishi Hakubutsu-kan Museum exhibits the history of overseas Chinese who had immigrated from the continent, and the exterior of Kobe Kaiyo Hakubutsu-kan Museum was inspired by an image of sailboat and sea. Kobe Port Tower, 108 meters high, has a revolving glass observation room, and on a clear day, Kansai Kokusai Kuko Airport and Awaji-shima Island may be seen. Many people come to enjoy the wonderful night view of Kobe. The sightseeing cruise boat starts from the Chuo-Tsutsumi Ryokaku Terminal at the Port Tower.

    Getting there
    From Tokyo Station, 2 hours 30 minutes by JR Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen Line to Shin-Osaka Station. From Shin-Osaka Station, 40 minutes by JR Tokaido Line to Moto-machi Station.


  • Kobe Bay Area
    The Bay Area is dotted with sightseeing spots and spots for shopping, gourmet food and evening entertainment
    JR Kobe Station area is close to Kobe Port, the second largest trading port in Japan and is called the Bay Area. Nearby Kobe Harborland has nice stores to enjoy shopping and gourmet food. Nightspots and recreational facilities, such as amusement parks, attract people day and night.

    On the seaside of Harborland is "Mosaic" town, a very unique place. A big Ferris wheel and carousel, Mosaic Garden and restaurants, boutiques and movie theaters form an almost mosaic-like effect in this commercial park complex. An open air mall and square with a view of the sea make this park a very popular area. When 80 zelkova trees on Kobe Gasu-to-dori Street are decorated with 80,000 lights, they are like a fantasy world. The illumination has become a symbolic winter scene of Kobe Harborland. Modern buildings line the waterfront and visitors can enjoy the open atmosphere of this place.

    Getting there
    From Tokyo Station, 2 hours 30 minutes by JR Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen Line to Shin-Osaka Station. From Osaka Station, 30 minutes to Kobe Station by JR Tokaiko Honsen Line.

  • Awaji-shima Island
    Island sandwiched by the Akashi Strait and Naruto Strait - The world's longest suspension bridge illuminated in seven colors
    Located in southern Hyogo and in the east of the Setonai-kai (the Inland Sea), Awaji-shima is an island largest in the Inland Sea and the third largest in Japan. Facing the Osaka Bay on the east and the Harima-nada on the west, the island is sandwiched by the Akashi Strait on the north and the Naruto Strait south to west and its coastal area is a part of Setonaikai National Park.

    There is Sumoto City in the eastern part of Awaji-shima. On Mt. Mikuma-yama south of the city is the site of the Sumoto Castle built early in the 16th century, where some stone walls and the keep that forms the castle's center remain. The castle tower commands a full view of the city and the Osaka Bay. Also, Awaji-shima boasts places worth a visit to enjoy the natural scenery, like the Naruto Strait in which the tide as fast as about 10 knots rises in all sizes of whirlpools, and many beaches including the Goshiki-hama (five color) Beach known for colorful pebbles made by the erosion of waves.

    The Akashi Kaikyo Ohashi (Akashi Strait Grand Bridge) is known as the world's longest suspension bridge, 3,910 meters long overall with two cable-braced main towers spaced 1,990 meters apart. This bridge, which links Awaji-shima with Kobe, is nightly illuminated in seven changing colors to regale the eye of viewers.

    Getting there
    About 3 hours and 10 minutes to Shin-Kobe Station from Tokyo Station by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line. About 40 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station to Akashi Station by JR Tokaido Sanyo Honsen Line. About 13 minutes from Akashi Port to Iwaya Port by Ban-Tan Renraku Kisen fast boat.


  • Himeji Castle
    Prominent, beautiful castle registered as the World Cultural Heritage - Beautiful shape of a white heron with spreading wings
    The Himeji Castle is located in Himeji City in the western Hyogo. It was constructed in the mid-14th century, and after a three-layer castle tower was built by the order of the man of power Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the 16th century, Ikeda Terumasa, a feudal lord of the castle rebuilt it further in the 17th century. Its figure was likened as a white heron spreading its wings, and thus called the Shirasagi-jo, or White Heron Castle. It was designated as a national treasure in 1931, and as the World Cultural Heritage in 1993.

    The Tenshukaku, or castle tower is the main structure and has 5 stories in appearance but 6 stories inside and a first basement. All structures are covered with white plaster unique to Japan. The roofs are covered with kawara tiles and white plaster is applied to the joints. The sturdy, magnificent structure and elegant appearance, as well as complex and tactical defense devices make the Himeji Castle the most prominent castle in Japan.

    The Castle hosts the Himeji Castle Cherry Blossom Viewing Fair, cherry blossom viewing drum music performance and Princess Sen-hime Peony Festival in spring, Himeji Port Festival in summer, Moon Viewing Fair in autumn and Himeji All Japan Ceramics Market in winter. Visitors never cease throughout the year. In the surrounding areas, there are a Japanese garden Koko-en, an affinity with the Castle, Otokoyama Sen-hime Tenmangu Shrine and Hyogo Historical Museum.

    Getting there
    Take JR Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen Line for 3 hours and 20 minutes from Tokyo Station to Himeji Station, or take JR Sanyo Sinkansen Line for 40 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station to Himeji Station.


  • Kinosaki
    Hot spring resort known as one-time stage of a novel - Basaltic mass lying 70 m across and 35 meters high
    Kinosaki is situated in northern Hyogo and has the Kinosaki-onsen Hot Spring Resort spreading along the Otani-gawa River branching off from the Maruyama-gawa River. Legend has it that the place was found in the 8th century by Dochi-shonin, a Buddhist saint. It is lined with community bathhouses, such as Ko-no-yu (hot spring of stork) that the legend says was used by storks to heal wounds, Sato-no-yu, Ichi-no-yu and Jizo-yu. The name Kinosaki became known all over the country when it appeared in a novel "Kinosaki Nite" (At Kinosaki) by Naoya Shiga, a famous novelist in the early 20th century.

    The Kinosaki Hot Spring Resort was once a spa called Tajima-no-yu. Since more hot springs were found in 1950's, the area has grown to be a new sightseeing and health spot in and around the Hanshin (Osaka-Kobe) district. At Onsen-ji Station of the Kinosaki-onsen ropeway is the Onsen-ji Temple believed to have been erected by Dochi-shonin, in which the standing images of Eleven-Faced Kan'non (Goddess of Mercy) and Eleven-Faced Thousand-Handed Kan'non are enshrined.

    In the neighborhood of the Onsen-ji Temple, a basaltic mass formed of hardened lava lies 70 meters across and 35 meters high, in which a basaltic cave opens its mouth and draws many viewers at all time together with Byakko-do (white tiger cave) and Seiryu-do (blue dragon cave) nearby.

    Getting there
    About 2 hours and 15 minutes to Kyoto Station from Tokyo Station, or about 16 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line. About 2 hours and 10 minutes from Kyoto Station to Kinosaki Station by JR San'in Honsen Line.


  • Rokko and Arima-onsen Hot Springs
    Rokko Mountains that afford an overwhelming million-dollar night view of Kobe - Arima, one of the oldest hot spring resort dating back to the 8th century.
    Located in southern Hyogo and on the northern coast of the Osaka Bay, the Rokko Mountains belong to Seto-nai-kai National Park and are the best sightseeing and health resort in the Hanshin (Osaka-Kobe) district. The highest of the mountains is Mt. Rokko-san, 931 meters above sea level, affording a night view of Kobe so beautiful that it is admired as "million-dollar night view."

    Mt. Rokko-san area was originally opened as a place for foreigners' cottages, followed by rapid development into a health resort since when a cable railway was put in service. It boasts a 100 year old golf course, the oldest in Japan, a man-made skiing ground, the Rokko Ranch run by Kobe City where Kiso horses (Japanese breed), Tokara horses and other horses are grazed on an spacious ground, drawing upward of 7 million visitors a year. Located in what is called "Ura-Rokko" (back of Rokko) in the north of Kobe is the Arima-onsen Hot Spring Resort, one of the oldest in Japan, said to have been opened when Buddhist monks built a sanitarium there in the 8th century. The spa contains a variety of hot springs including salt-rich spring with a salt content as high as twice that of seawater, carbonated spring with the flavor of soda-pop and radium spring. Arima-onsen is very popular as it is referred to as "The back parlor of Keihanshin" (Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe).

    Getting there
    About 3 hours and 10 minutes to Shin-Kobe Station from Tokyo Station by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line. To Rokko, 20 minutes from Shin-Kobe Station to Hankyu Rokko Station by bus. Thirty-three minutes to Hankyu Rokko Station from Hankyu Umeda Station by Hankyu Dentetsu Railway. Twenty-five minutes from Hankyu Rokko Station to the top of Mt. Rokko-san by bus. To Arima-onsen Hot Springs, 35 minutes from Shin-Kobe Station to Arima-onsen by bus. Fifty-five minutes from Osaka Station to Arima-onsen by bus.


  • Takarazuka
    Aragami-san, the God of Fire and Kitchen, Home of all-female musical theater
    Takarazuka City is located in the south-eastern part of Hyogo and developed along the Muko-gawa River coming from Rokko Mountains. It is famous for Kiyoshi-kojin Seicho-ji Temple, popularly known as Aragami-san, the God of Fire and Kitchen, and the Takarazuka Musical Theater. Kiyoshi-kojin Seicho-ji Temple was erected by Emperor Uda's imperial order in the 9th century for the purpose of protecting people from a fire. At the monthly fair on the 27th and the 28th of the month, and during the first three days of the New Year, it is very crowded with stalls and people. Not only tea houses and souvenir shops, but stalls selling good luck items and tsukudani, a preserved food, fortune tellers and a painter who paints a snake with a single stroke of the sumi(India ink) brush to entertain people.

    Takarazuka is the home of the Takarazuka Musical Theater, composed only of women. It originated in the Girls' Musical Theater established for the promotion of the hot springs in 1913. Since that time, the company with its splendid costumes, magnificent songs and dances, as well as plays, has been very popular and the theater has produced countless stars. There is the big theater, the school of music, the Takarazuka-kageki Kinen-kan Hall, the Takarazuka Family Park Amusement Park and the zoo. The Takarazuka-onsen Hot Spring with traditional Japanese inns are also popular.

    Getting there
    From Tokyo Station, 2 hours 30 minutes by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line to Shin-Osaka Station. From Shin-Osaka Station, JR Tokaido Honsen Line to Osaka Station. Change to JR Takarazuka Line to Takarazuka Station, 32 minutes.

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  Information provided by Japan National Tourist Organization.


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