15 Things To Do in Hyogo

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Source: yeowatzup

Hyogo is a prefecture in Japan that houses some of the most visited cities in Japan: Osaka, Kobe, and Himeji. The area is rich in history and natural beauty, offering many interesting attractions. This article presents you 15 things to do in Hyogo.

1. Visit Himeji Castle


Source: Ben Kubota

The size and its elegant appearance make Himeji Castle to be considered Japan’s most impressive castle. Recognized as a natural treasure and world heritage site, it is one of the twelve original castles in the country that were never destroyed in wars or by natural disasters.  The top floor houses a small shrine and offers amazing views of the surrounding area. The castle’s garden has many cherry tresses and is a very popular cherry blossom viewing spot during spring.


  • Price: 1000 yen
  • Access: a 15 minute walk from Himeji Station
  • Opening hour: 09:00
  • Closing hour: 17:00
  • Holiday:  December 29 and 30
  • Website: http://www.himejicastle.jp/en/

2. Stroll Kokoen Garden


Source: yuensolee

Kokoen is a large Japanese style garden in Himeji which features nine smaller gardens, each with its own specific. It was constructed on the site where a feudal lord’ residence used to be. Among the gardens, visitors can see a flower garden, a bamboo garden, a pine tree garden, a tea ceremony garden and the garden of the lord’s residence which has a pond and a small waterfall. Kokoen is also the perfect place for seeing colored maple trees, attracting many visitors during autumn.


  • Price: 300 yen
  • Access: a 20 minute walk from Himeji Station
  • Opening hour: 09:00
  • Closing hour:  18:00
  • Holiday: December 29 and 30
  • Website: http://www.himeji-machishin.jp/ryokka/kokoen/english.html

3. Visit Takeda Castle’s ruins


Source: Norio Nakayama

The site of Takeda Castle is one of the most scenic places in Japan. Even though the castle is no longer standing and just a few walls remain from it, its location is well worth the visit. Takeda Castle is placed on the top of a mountain with extraordinary views of the surrounding valleys. Sometimes clouds fill the valleys and the ruins appear to be floating on top of them. The climb to the top of the mountain takes about 90 minutes and the trail is not paved, so visitors should wear proper shoes before going.


  • Access: a 60 minute walk from Takeda Station

4. Relax on the beach

Osaka 0502

Source: Alexandra Negoita

Kobe city has many sand beaches along its shores, like the ones in the Suma, Tarumi, and Maiko areas. The beaches attract many people for swimming, sunbathing or enjoying various water sports. But even if you are not visiting in summer, a walk on the beach is still a pleasant activity. Walking on the soft sand while listening to the ocean waves is a good way to spend an afternoon.  The beaches are also near many shops and restaurants where you can dine after your walk.

5. Visit Engyoji Temple

Did you know that Engyoji was the temple used in the Tom Cruise movie "The Last Samurai". I didn't until I rode in the cable car. Go to the temple in Autumn or Winter when it is snowing

Source: Stephen Wheeler

Engyoji Temple is located on top of Mount Shosha and houses several sub-temples. It can be accessed by cable car followed by a short walk. There are many interesting Buddhist statues and architectural points to observe at each building. Besides exploring the area, visitors can enjoy seeing nice views of Himeji city from the mountain top. The temple is also the location of the “Last Samurai” movie, which was filmed here because of the temple’s old atmosphere, not intruded by any modern constructions.


  • Price: 500 yen
  • Access: by ropeway from Mount Shosha ropeway station (take bus number 8 from Himeji train station)
  • Opening hour: 08;30
  • Closing hour:  18:00
  • Holiday: none
  • Website: http://www.shosha.or.jp/

6. Enjoy the nightscape in Kobe port


Source: Hiroaki Kaneko

The port area in Kobe is the perfect place to spend the evening. There are many landmarks that look beautiful when lightened in the dark, like the Kobe Port Tower and the Ferris wheel at the Mosaic shopping complex. You can just walk around Meriken Park and listen to the ocean waves while enjoying the view or you can go up the Kobe Port Tower observatory or ride the Ferris wheel. No matter your choice, the views are amazing!


  • Access: Kobe Station

7. Climb Mount Rokko


Source: Felix Filnkoessl

Mount Rokko is a 931 meters tall mountain just west of Kobe that features various attractions like an alpine flower botanical garden, a music box museum, a golf course and a complex with shops and restaurants.  It can be accessed by cable car or by several trails. While going by cable car is the most comfortable, actually climbing the mountain will give you a much more interesting experience as there are some points of interest on the trails as well. The top of the mountain will reward you with beautiful views of Osaka and Kobe.


  • Access: from Rokko or Arimaonsen stations

8. See Akashi Kaikyo Bridge


Source: halfrain

The Akashi Kaikyo Bridge located in Kobe is the world’s largest suspension bridge. It took workers 10 years to complete its construction and the steel cable used could encircle the planet more than seven times. The bridge is made to survive nature’s attacks: heavy rain, strong wind, earthquakes, typhoons, and hurricanes. Besides enjoying looking at the bridge, visitors can also take part in guided tours. The tours last 2.5 hours and take visitors to the very top of the bridge. The views are spectacular!


  • Access: Maikokoen Station

9. Visit Kobe City Suma Marine Aquarium


Source: Daiju Azuma

Suma Marine Aquarium has many sea creatures to amaze visitors with. The facility also features Japan’s first underwater tunnel called “Amazon World”. Visitors that go through the tunnel can enjoy seeing the sea creatures swim around them. Looking at the aquarium’s sharks, sea turtles and stingrays just meters away will make you feel like you are in the depths of the ocean. There are also several events like a live fish show, a dolphin show, and a sea otter feeding show.


  • Price: 1300 yen
  • Access:  a 5 minute walk from JR Sumakaihin Koen Station
  • Opening hour: 09:00
  • Closing hour:  17:00
  • Holiday: Wednesdays
  • Website: http://sumasui.jp/

10. Visit Sumaura Park


Source: halfrain

Sumaura Park is part of the Rokko Mountain range and is located just next to the ocean in Kobe. The park is accessible by cable car and offers amazing views of the ocean, Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, and Kobe. The sun’s warm colors as it sets combined with the millions of lights below make an amazing sight. The park is also well known for its beautiful cherry blossom trees and becomes a popular attraction during spring.


  • Access: from Sumaurakoen Station

11. Visit the Earthquake Museum


Source: x768

The Kobe Earthquake Museum was made as a remainder of the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake. Located in the port area in Meriken Park, the museum consists of an actual building with various exhibitions, including a large screen which shows the destructive power of such a disaster, and an area which was preserved after the earthquake. The preserved area shows exactly how Meriken Park looked after the earthquake stopped, with crooked streetlights and crumbled concrete.


  • Price: 600 yen
  • Access: a 10 minute walk from Iwaya Station
  • Opening hour: 09:30
  • Closing hour:  17:30
  • Holiday: on Mondays , December 31 and January 1
  • Website: December 31 and January 1

12. Go to Kobe City Oji Zoo


Source: Hideyuki Kamon

The Kobe City Oji Zoo is one of the largest zoos in the Kansai area, boasting more than 850 animals from 150 different species. Visitors can see snow leopards, amur tigers, golden snub-nosed monkeys, koalas, and pandas. Among the most popular animals are the pandas Koko and Tantan and Suwako, a female elephant which is the oldest one in Japan. The zoo has many facilities such as the “Animal Science Pavilion”, a place to learn more about animals, the “Fierce Animal Coliseum”, where felines can be observed through glass and the “Animal and Children Country”, a part of the zoo where children can pet different animals.


  • Price: 600 yen
  • Access: outside Hankyu Oji Koen Station
  • Opening hour: 09:00
  • Closing hour: 17:00
  • Holiday: Wednesdays, December 29 to January 1
  • Website: http://ojizoo.jp/

13. Climb Mount Maya


Source: halfrain

Mount Maya is a 698.6 meter high mountain in Kobe which is also part of the Rokko chain. Mount Maya is part of the Setonaikai National Park and is very famous for the views from its top. Visitors can see Kobe, Nishinomiya, Osaka, Amagasaki, Sakai, Kobe Airport and Kansai International Airport. The night view is so impressive that was called “ten million dollar night view” and became one of Japan’s top three. The top of the mountain can be accessed by ropeway, cableway or by foot.


  • Access: a 30 minute walk from Iwaya Station

14. Go shopping


Source: Dai Dara Bocci

Hyogo has many shopping possibilities such as Mitsui Outlet Park Marine Pia in Kobe, Aeon Mall in Itami, Aste Mall in Kawasaki, Flower Street in Takarazuka, Sunshine Wharf in Kobe. Aeon Mall Otsu in Himeji and Nikke Park Town in Kakokgawa. There are products for everybody, like women and men fashion, jewelry, toys, books, souvenirs, electronics and beauty goods. After shopping, visitors can dine at the many restaurants and cafes that can be found in the malls.

15. Visit Ikuta Shrine


Source: harum.koh

Ikuta Shrine is a Shinto shrine located in Kobe that is said to be among the oldest ones in the country. The shrine survived many wars and natural disasters such as the Genpei War from 1180 to 1185 , World War II , a severe flooding in 1938 and the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995. The shrine therefore became a symbol of resistance and hope to the people in the area. Many people visit it today to pray for luck and happiness.


  • Price: free
  • Access: a 5 minute walk from JR Sannomiya Station
  • Opening hour: 07:00
  • Closing hour: 17:00
  • Holiday:  none
  • Website: http://www.ikutajinja.or.jp/

Enjoy these amazing attractions!

Have a good trip and travel!

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Asia, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan, Kansai Region