Osaka is a great place to begin your sightseeing of the Kansai area. The most famous places in Kansai outside of Osaka are Kyoto, Nara, and Kobe, but there are also many places in the area that you should add to your list! Here are 5 other sightseeing destinations in the Kansai area that you can reach from Osaka.
1. Tomogashima (Wakayama)
Tomogashima, located at about 2 hours from Osaka, was equipped as a military fortress during World War II. Today, it is a desert island where the fortress and explosives warehouses have been left in ruins, and where the overgrown greenery and brick-built buildings create a deeply interesting contrast. This scenery has turned into a very popular sightseeing spot because it is said to match exactly the landscape of "Laputa: Castle in The Sky," a movie produced by Hayao Miyazaki, an anime director representative of Japan. This is a must-see place not just for those who have watched the movie, but also for ancient ruin lovers, so make sure to visit it!
2. Kumano Kodo (Wakayama)
Kumano Kodo is registered as a World Heritage Site, and it is one of the sightseeing spots that we recommend visiting from Osaka. This is a pilgrimage route to the Kumano Hongu Taisha, the Kumano Hayadama Taisha, and the Kumano Nachi Taisha. As you walk through the mystical mountain trail surrounded by trees, you may feel as if you could hear the gods' breaths. We recommend carefully choosing which route to use, as there are a wide array of trails, and some of them are harder to walk on or take a longer time than the others. If you are not especially confident in your physical strength, then we recommend the route that goes from Hosshinmon-oji to the Kumano Hongu Taisha.
In addition, there are many places of interest scattered along the trails, such as Kannon halls, stone jizo statues, and cobbled paths, so if you are interested in a particular site, we recommend checking the trails on the Kumano Hongu Tourist Association Official Homepage in advance.
3. Lotus clusters of Karasuma Peninsula (Shiga)
If you like flowers, we recommend visiting the Karasuma Peninsula. A large part of the area around the Karasuma Peninsula, which protrudes over Lake Biwa, is covered in lotus clusters. The lotus flowers usually bloom between mid-July and early August. The best way to get a close view of the flowers is from the lakeside path by the side of the Suisei Shokubutsu Park - as you come closer to the lakeside, you will find that everything is covered in the color of the lotuses as far as you can see! This is the ultimate natural scenery.
Many wild birds live in this area as well, so if you are lucky you may be able to do some bird watching as well.
4. Hieizan Enryaku-ji (Shiga)
Hieizan Enryaku-ji is the generic name of a total amount of about 150 temples whose grounds are scattered all over Mt. Hiei, in Sakamoto Honmachi. The address reads Shiga, but actually the temples are registered as World Heritage Sites as Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto. Enryaku-ji is divided into 3 main areas, namely Todo, Saito, and Yokawa, all of which have their own main halls. Because of this, visiting all of them takes about a whole day. Rather than sightseeing, we recommend thinking about this visit as a hiking experience. If you do not have much time, we recommend focusing on the "Todo" area, where you will find many interesting temples, such as the Kompon Chudo, Dai Kodo, Amida-do, Hokkesojiin Temple, and the Monjuro Gate.
5. Hachimanbori (Shiga)
If the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Japan is "samurai", then you should definitely visit Hachimanbori. Hachimanbori thrived as a castle town that connected the urban district and Lake Biwa, and it is popular for the charming view of the white-walled storehouses and old Japanese style townhouses along the artificially created canal. Since this spot is often used as a location for historical films, if you are lucky you may even be able to meet a samurai wearing a topknot hairstyle here! In addition, if you've made it all the way to Hachimanbori, we recommend going for a ride on the Hachimanbori Meguri sightseeing boat. The tour consists of a relaxed cruise of about 30 minutes where you can indulge in the view of the ancient town, which may make you feel as if time had stopped. Please note that you may need to place a reservation a day in advance if you are visiting in the winter.
Did you enjoy the article? The Kansai area has many interesting sightseeing places to offer like the ones featured in this article. Make sure that you consider some other cities beside Kyoto and Nara as sightseeing destinations for your trip.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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