Hyogo Prefecture

Discover Himeji castle

 By Bonson Lam   Nov 3, 2011

Hyogo is the heart of Japan. In fact, Akashi in Hyogo's south is Japan’s standard time meridian, centered exactly on 135 degrees east longitude. Akashi is also the center of fishing for the region. Whether you are savouring snapper from nearby Naruto in spring, abalone from Mie in summer, Canadian salmon in the fall or crab from Hokkaido in winter, Akashi is the heart of seafood.

Just nine miles east of Akashi is Kobe, the capital of Hyogo and home to one of the oldest and largest international ports in Japan. The city has an international feel and is home to a number of churches, a synagogue and a mosque. There is also a lively Chinatown and traditional European houses in the hills behind the city, making it one of the most livable cities for expatriates.

The nearby mountains and the sea make it an attractive place to visit all year round. Rokko, a mountain chain to the north, has nice hiking trails and wonderful sightseeing spots. In the evening you can admire the breathtaking view of the city and the harbor.

Awaji Island is connected to Kobe by the longest suspension bridge in the world, spanning 3.5 km over the Naruto Straits, which are famous for their strong whirlpools. Its snapper is naturally very muscular and is a delight to eat in spring when its fatty texture is fantastic.

Himeji Castle in the west of Hyogo is one of the first Japanese buildings to receive World Heritage listing. Also in Himeji City is Engyoji Temple, towering on Mount Shosha. It was one of the locations in the movie, “The Last Samurai”, and is a sublime example of the harmony between art and nature. It is considered a one of the best places in the prefecture to enjoy the changing fall colors.

Hyogo is the same size as North Yorkshire, smaller than Connecticut, but larger than Brunei. The south coast where most people live has a temperate climate. The northern Sanin coast, on the other hand, gets snow in the winter and is home to Yumura Onsen, opened more than a thousand years ago by Jikaku Daishi. The geology of the area is very old, being from the time when Japan was still part of the Eurasian landmass. You can absorb this timeless landscape in summer by boat cruise from either Kasumi or JR Hamasaka.

Written by Bonson Lam
Japan Travel Partner

Join the discussion