Hofu (防府市 Hōfu-shi) is a city in Yamaguchi prefecture, Japan. It is named after its former status as the provincial capital (kokufu 国府) of Suō Province (周防国).
By public transport, take a bus to Shin-Yamaguchi station (35 min, ¥890), then take the train. The more intrepid traveller can walk 10 minutes from the airport to Kusae station and take a train from there to Shin-Yamaguchi, which takes about 40 minutes but saves ¥480.
Hōfu is on the San'yō Main Line but not the San'yō Shinkansen, which runs through the north of the city without stopping. The nearest Shinkansen stations are Tokuyama to the east (25 min, ¥500) and Shin-Yamaguchi to the west (15 min, ¥320); Shin-Yamaguchi has somewhat better service.
Journey times via Shinkansen are broadly as follows:
- Tokyo: 5 hours 20 minutes (longer if avoiding Nozomi trains) and ¥20,690 (¥21,560 if going via Shin-Yamaguchi)
- Shin-Osaka: 2 hours 30 minutes and ¥12,400 (via Tokuyama)
- Hiroshima: 1 hour 15 minutes and ¥4190 (via Tokuyama)
- Hakata: 1 hour 20 minutes and ¥6020 (via Shin-Yamaguchi)
Local trains run to Shimonoseki (1 hour 30 minutes, ¥1490) and Iwakuni (1 hour 25 minutes, ¥1320). A journey to Hiroshima using San'yō Main Line local trains, changing at Iwakuni, takes 2 hours 50 minutes and costs ¥1940.
As an alternative to the Japan Rail Pass, JR West offers three passes serving Hōfu, which are available to Temporary Visitors with foreign passports:
- The Hiroshima-Yamaguchi Pass covers all JR stations in Yamaguchi prefecture and services as far east as Miyoshi and Onomichi. It can also be used for the non-reserved seats of all San'yō Shinkansen trains (including Nozomi and Mizuho trains) between Mihara and Hakata, and the JR Miyajima Ferry. It lasts five days and costs ¥11,000 (12,000 if bought in Japan).
- The Okayama-Hiroshima-Yamaguchi Pass extends the valid area to Tsuyama and Takamatsu. It can be used on all Shinkansen trains between Okayama and Hakata. It lasts five days and costs ¥13,500 (¥14,500 if bought in Japan).
- The San'yō-San'in Pass extends the valid area still further to cover the Urban Network area of Kansai (as far as Tsuruga and Wakayama) and both reserved and non-reserved seats of the Shinkansen between Shin-Osaka and Hakata. It lasts 7 days and costs ¥19,000 (¥20,000 if bought in Japan).
All three of these passes can be used on the JR Bus to Yamaguchi mentioned below.
By highway busEdit
- Bōchō Bus [dead link] runs the overnight Hagi Express from Tokyo Station Yaesu South Exit; this takes 12 hours 30 minutes and costs up to ¥13,400 (cheaper outside peak periods).
- From Kyoto, Osaka (Umeda, Namba, and Abenobashi) and Kobe (Sannomiya), Bōchō Bus [dead link] and Kintetsu Bus run the Karst overnight service; this takes 11 hours 30 minutes and costs ¥8500 (¥15,300 return, valid for 10 days). (The bus is named after the karst topography of Akiyoshidai, which lies between Yamaguchi and Hagi.)
- From Hiroshima Bus Center, Bōchō Bus [dead link] runs seven buses a day to Hōfu, taking 2 hours 30 minutes and costing ¥2370 (¥4300 return, valid for 7 days).
- From Hakata, Bōchō Bus [dead link] and JR Kyushu Bus run four buses a day to Hōfu (continuing to Shūnan and Kudamatsu), taking about 2 hours 30 minutes and costing ¥3000.
By local busEdit
Bōchō Bus runs services to Shin-Yamaguchi and Tokuyama, but these take longer than the train.
- 1 Hōfu Tenman-gū (防府天満宮), 14-1 Matsuzakichō (bus to Temmangū from Stop 2 of Hōfu Station). A Shinto shrine.
- 2 Mōri Museum (毛利博物館), 1-15-1 Tatara (bus to Mōri-Hontei-Iriguchi from Stop 2 of Hōfu Station), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 09:00-17:00 (last admission 16:30). Formerly the residence of the Mōri Clan, this museum houses four of Japan's National Treasures. Garden only ¥400, everywhere ¥1200.
- 1 Laughable (ラーフエブル), 1-7-31 Tenjin (7 minutes walk from the Tenjin Exit of Hōfu Station), ☏ . 20:00-03:00. Hōfu's main bar, most easily found by looking for the neon yellow shower curtain that serves as its door.