prefecture of Japan
Asia > East Asia > Japan > Kansai > Hyogo

Hyōgo Prefecture (兵庫県 Hyōgo-ken) is in the western Kansai region of the main Japanese island Honshu.

Understand

edit

To the south Hyogo faces the Seto Inland Sea. In ancient times Inland Sea was the economic lifeblood of Japan, linking the capitals of Kyoto and Nara to trade with the Korean peninsula and China, while supplying a seemingly endless supply of fish. The Inland Sea still ensures the livelihood of millions of Japanese. It's no surprise then that most of Harima's population (and tourist sites) can be found near the coast, in cities like Ako, Akashi, Kakogawa, and Himeji.

Regions

edit

When Japan's prefecture system was inaugurated in the first years of the Meiji era, most of the modern prefectures were made out of one or two of the old Japanese provinces (Hiroshima was once the provinces of Bingo and Aki, Nara was once the province of Yamato). Hyogo, however, inherited three whole provinces and sections of two others.

While these provinces no longer exist in any administrative sense, they came in to Hyogo with distinct regional dialects and identities. This combination has made Hyogo one of the most geographically and culturally diverse prefectures in Japan, and the only one to span the width of the central island of Honshu.

  • Tajima — in the north of Hyogo along the Sea of Japan.
  • Awaji Island — at the entrance of the Inland Sea, culturally linked to Shikoku.
  • Tamba — shared with Kyoto Prefecture, in the northeast of Hyogo.
  • Settsu — shared with Osaka Prefecture, home to Kobe and the Hanshin area.
  • Harima (播磨), also known as Banshu (播州), is in the southwest of Hyogo, along the Inland Sea. Harima was an independent province in feudal Japan. Harima is centered on the Harima Plain, a large alluvial plain spanning from Akashi in the east to Tatsuno in the west. Further west the terrain gets a little more mountainous, but this is nothing compared to the mountains that make up its northern border with the region of Tajima. While these mountains can be a hassle for getting around (there is only one direct train line between Harima and Tajima) they also protect Harima from the harsh winter weather that blankets its northern neighbors in snow. As a result residents of Harima can enjoy the ski slopes of their northern neighbors while enjoying relatively mild winters back home. Harima is known for a variety of locally-made knick-knacks, which include cutlery and fabric. The dialect in Harima (播州弁 Banshu-ben) is a mixture of the Kansai and Chugoku dialects, and has the dubious reputation of being the harshest in Japan. Listen for rolled Rs.

Tourist information

edit

HyoGo! Navi is the prefecture's official Japanese-only tourism site (with integrated Google Translate).

Cities

edit
 
Map of Hyogo
 
Kinosaki Onsen
  • 1 Kobe — The prefectural capital, a cosmopolitan port city with an international flavor
  • 2 Aioi
  • 3 Akashi — A port city known for its fresh seafood and Akashi-yaki (a variant of Takoyaki) and the world's longest suspension bridge
  • 4 Ako — A city famous for salt and the legendary 47 Loyal Samurai
  • 5 Amagasaki
  • 6 Asago
  • 7 Himeji — Home to Japan's most beautiful castle
  • 8 Nishinomiya — Home of Koshien Ball Park and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
  • 9 Takarazuka — Famous for its all-female theater productions and Tezuka Osamu Museum
  • 10 Tatsuno
  • 11 Toyooka

Other destinations

edit

Get in

edit

By plane

edit

The prefecture's only significant airport is Kobe Airport (UKB IATA), serving a limited variety of domestic destinations.

Adjacent Osaka Prefecture's two major airports offer many more flights: Kansai International Airport (KIX IATA) is a major international hub, and Osaka Itami (formally Osaka International Airport, ITM IATA) is Kansai's busiest and best served domestic airport (in fact, its North Terminal and runways are in Hyogo. Only its South Terminal is in Osaka Prefecture). Both have convenient transportation links to Hyogo – Itami is only 40 minutes away from downtown Kobe by bus and Kansai has a direct ferry link to Kobe Airport (40 minutes from terminal to terminal, subject to cancellation during bad weather).

By train

edit

Kobe, Akashi, and Himeji are all on the San'yo Shinkansen line, with through services on the Tokaido Shinkansen for one-seat rides from Tokyo. Himeji is also the first morning westbound stop on the Sunrise Izumo/Seto, the last scheduled service sleeper trains in Japan. If coming from closer by, these cities are also well served by regular JR trains on the San'yo Main Line and Tokaido Line.

By bus

edit

Get around

edit
 
Himeji Castle
  • Japan's Belly Button Park (日本のへそ公園 Nihon no Heso Kouen). This park in Nishiwaki city is considered to mark the geographic center of Japan, which is locally called its belly button. There is a large monument to the belly button, and the park is also home to a children's science museum. If you go in they will eagerly make you watch their planetarium show and then let you use their massive telescope. The actual geographic center is not in the park, but down a hill, past the 日本のへそ公園 train station, through a small tunnel and along the Kakogawa river. Don't miss the charming art gallery next to the train station.
  • Himeji Castle. One of Japan's best castles, a 5-year renovation was completed in 2015.
  • Meditation. Antaiji (安泰寺), Kutoyama, Shinonsen-cho, Mikata-gun. This is no guest house. Antaiji is a monastery in the Soto Zen school. It was founded in 1923, and made famous as a place for serious meditation and simple living by Sawaki Kodo Roshi and his student, and later abbot, Kosho Uchiyama Roshi. Many foreigners have practiced at Antaiji, and it continues to welcome serious overseas trainees for short and long term stays.

Drink

edit

Go next

edit
  • Kyoto Prefecture borders Hyogo Prefecture to the east. Obviously, the city of Kyoto is a great destination for any tourist in Japan, due to its abundance of historical and cultural sites, such as Kiyomizu Temple and the Imperial Palace. Uji is also worthwhile, with the famous Byodoin Temple, Ujigami Shrine, and Manpukuji Temple. If you are in northern Hyogo, Amanohashidate is a worthwhile destination, with its main attraction being the view, considered to be one of Japan's Top 3 views.
  • Tottori Prefecture meets Hyogo on the northwestern border. The city of Tottori is most famous for the Tottori Sand Dunes, the only sand dunes in Japan, as well as the Kannon-in Garden and Kawahara Castle.
  • Okayama Prefecture lies to the west of Hyogo. Bizen, located close to Hyogo, is where the famous Bizen swords and Bizen pottery were first made, and there are museums with artifacts and information about making them. The capital, Okayama, features one of Japan's Top 3 gardens, Korakuen Garden, along with Saijo Inari, one of Japan's Top 3 Inari shrines. The city also has a wide variety of museums and Okayama Castle, the famous black castle. The city of Tsuyama features Shurakuen Garden, the historic Joto Street, and Kakuzan Park, which contains the ruins of Tsuyama Castle and is a great place for cherry blossom viewing. Kurashiki is well known for its charming Bikan historic district, a well preserved and quite large area filled with historic buildings, shops, and museums.
  • Osaka Prefecture is located to the southeast. The modern city of Osaka features a wide variety of shopping areas, such as Namba and Umeda. This city also features a variety of museums and cultural sites, such as the Kaiyukan, an excellent aquarium, and the famous Osaka Castle. For historic sites, Sumiyoshi Shrine is a great destination, along with Shitennoji Temple. In the city of Sakai lies the Nintoku Tomb, the largest burial mound in Japan. In Suita City one can visit Expo Memorial Park, which is where the 1970 World Expo was held. The famous Tower of the Sun can be seen here.
This region travel guide to Hyogo is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a "Get in" section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!