[PR]Explore the Hidden Side of Osaka with a 2-Day Sightseeing Course Around Senshu
If you plan to visit Osaka, make sure to stop by Senshu! This undiscovered part of Osaka is home to some of the best danjiri festivals around, where heroic men parade around while pulling stunning wooden carts heavily decorated with lanterns. Despite being easily accessible from the Kansai International Airport, it is not yet well known by tourists, which is what lets it project a completely different atmosphere from the metropolis of Osaka. This article offers a 1-night, 2-day sightseeing model course that will introduce you to all of Senshu's attractions and charms.
Located in southwest Osaka Prefecture, Senshu consists of 13 cities and towns: Sakai, Takaishi, Izumiotsu, Izumi, Tadaoka, Kishiwada, Kaizuka, Kumatori, Izumisano, Sennan, Tajiri, Hannan, and Misaki. Since long ago, it has been rich and prosperous in a multitude of ways. For example, not only does it have many historic spots, but it is also home to several hot springs (onsen) in its mountainous areas. It also gets an abundance of seafood around its coastal areas. Several traditional autumn festivals also take place in this region, such as the Kishiwada Danjiri Festival, which is well known nationwide. If you’re looking for something a little different from standard tourist spots, this is an area worth exploring!
This model course goes around spots that showcase Senshu’s history and culture. Although the first day focuses on the Kishiwada Danjiri Festival, you will also get to explore places like old estates that are home to castles or Japanese gardens.
<10:00 am> Visit Kishiwada Castle (Duration: Approx. 60 Mins)
To start off the trip, head to Kishiwada Castle, which is not only the symbol of Kishiwada City, but also one of the Top 100 Castles of Japan. Though its original 5-story castle tower burned down from a lightning strike, it was rebuilt into a 3-story, 3-floor castle tower. From the top of the tower, you’ll be able to get a sweeping view of the whole city!
Made from eight rocks, the dry landscape garden “Hachijin no Niwa” is also worth seeing. It is known for its unique arrangement, which provides an interesting view from any angle. Regardless of whether you look at it straight on or from the top of the castle tower, you’re sure to experience something new!
10:00 am - 5:00 pm (last entry at 4:00 pm)
Mondays (open if it falls on a national holiday or general holiday), Beginning and end of the year (December 29 - January 3)
*Open during the Castle Festival on April 1 - 15
<11:00 am> Have Lunch While Admiring a Gorgeous Japanese Garden (Duration: Approx. 60 Mins)
Finish up your castle exploration and get ready for an early lunch! Head over to the nearby restaurant, Ganko Kishiwada Gofuso.
This Japanese restaurant is housed in an estate that used to belong to a powerful financial conglomerate, who built it to look like the teahouse of Kishiwada’s feudal lord. The roughly 7,934 sq.m. Japanese garden that extends from it offers beautiful scenery that changes with the seasons. Getting to dine on delicious food while gazing at this gorgeous scene from an atmospheric building is truly a magical, luxurious experience.
The menu has something for every budget, from affordable set meals (from 980 JPY (excl. tax)) to kaiseki (Japanese course meals, starts from 5,000 JPY (excl. tax and service charge)). Many visitors recommend the “Nama Yuba Shabu Yawaragi Sushi Bento” (2,280 JPY (excl. tax and service charge)), which lets you savor small portions of items like fresh tofu skin (yuba) simmered in sauce, sushi, tempura, and sashimi for a reasonable price.
*They have English, Chinese (Simplified), and Korean menus.
Weekdays: 11:00 am - 3:30 pm, 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm (L.O. 9:00 pm)
Weekends, National Holidays: 11:00 am - 10:00 pm (L.O. 9:00 pm)
*No scheduled closing days
<1:00 pm> Observe the Jaw-dropping Kishiwada Danjiri Festival
Done filling up your belly? It’s now time for the Kishiwada Danjiri Festival! The spectacle to look forward to is the procession of men speedily pulling danjiri (festival floats that act as offerings during festivals). Watch as hundreds of people pull on ropes with all their might while heartily shouting out loud! It is especially riveting when they have to turn an intersection ("yarimawashi" in Japanese). It's incredible to see them in perfect coordination as they skillfully navigate the danjiri, which can weigh around 4 tons. This lively festival is full of thrills and surprises!
◆The best place to see this is KanKan-ba. The road is wide, so you’ll be able to see the procession turn a corner at an incredible speed!
*There is a map of the full procession course on the official website for the Kishiwada Danjiri Festival (9 languages supported).
◆The Kishiwada Ekimae Parade, which occurs on the eve of the festival ("yoimiya" in Japanese) from 1:00 pm onwards, is a spotlight-grabbing event where danjiri will be pulled through the Ekimae-dori shopping street and Showa-odori. Get introduced to all the danjiri, listen to festival music, and watch a couple of performances by the train station square!
◆Don’t forget to watch the moment when the danjiri actually make their way to Kishiki Shrine (9:00 am - 12:30 pm)! This is called "miya-iri" in Japanese. Watching them run all the way up Konakara Slope and turn a corner is breathtaking!
◆Night is when you’ll get to see a magical scene where several hundred lanterns are lit up and hung to the danjiri, which are then paraded throughout the town.
-Watch Clips of the Festival!-
This video showcases the Kishiwada Ekimae Parade of September 17, 2017.
You’re sure to be overwhelmed by the danjiri bursting from the shopping street and doing a smooth, sharp turn.
2018 Schedule (Kishiwada)
Festival Eve (Yoimiya): September 15 (Sat) 6:00 am - 10:00 pm
Festival Day (Honmiya): September 16 (Sun) 9:00 am - 10:00 pm
What is the Danjiri Festival?
This fall festival exists to thank the deities for that year’s harvest and pray for a bumper crop in the next year. While it is held all over the Senshu region, the one in Kishiwada is the most famous, with over 300 years of history. It is actually a general name for two different festivals that are held at different places and times. One occurs in September by the coast, while the other is held in October on hilly land.
The interesting thing about the danjiri is that they’re beautifully made out of Japanese zelkova (species of elm-like tree). The gorgeous, painstakingly hand carved designs on the danjiri are also something to admire. They depict numerous things, such as the town’s history, culture, war tales, legends, and so on. Pay close attention to their beauty while watching the danjiri procession!
Other Mentionable Festivals
This event is held in the southern part* of Senshu during early to mid-October. Similar to a danjiri festival, it consists of yagura (high wooden scaffolds turned into festival floats and decorated with carvings and large roofs) being pulled throughout the town. It has two enormous wheels, bounces up and down when moving, and is able to make sharp movements. The procession is led to the beat of melodies made with flutes and taiko (Japanese drums) or a traditional festival song called “Yagura-bushi”.
*Sennan, Hannan, Misaki, and parts of Izumisano and Tajiri
During this well-known festival that takes place in Sakai City, five vermillion mattresses (futon) are stacked on top of each other and tied to a portable shrine (mikoshi), which is then pulled all across town. What’s unique about this procession is how it has people drumming taiko and chanting the “Katsugi Uta” (Carrier Song) whilst hidden underneath all the mattresses. You can see this shrine at 10 different shrines across Sakai City from mid-September to early October. In Kaizuka City, this is referred to as the “Taiko-dai Festival” and takes place in July.
<4:00 pm> Learn More About the Wonders of Danjiri at the Kishiwada Danjiri Kaikan (Duration: Approx. 60 Mins)
After seeing everything that the festival has to offer, turn back to where Kishiwada Castle is and walk towards “Kishiwada Danjiri Kaikan”. This large building is home to several documents that showcase the history and charms of danjiri.
Inside, you’ll find a real danjiri that you can observe up close! There are many fine details to the decorative carvings that can’t be seen during the festival itself, so this is a great chance to take a close look at them.
Why not try out the interactive corner, where you can pretend to be the star of the show by doing "daikukata" (dancing on the roof of the danjiri), or play instruments like you were part of the parade accompaniment?
10:00 am - 5:00 pm (last entry at 4:00 pm)
Mondays (open if it falls on a national holiday or general holiday), Beginning and end of the year (Dec. 29 - Jan. 3)
*Open during the Castle Festival on April 1 - 15
600 JPY/General, 300 JPY/Junior high and elementary school students
<5:00 pm> Take in the Townscape of Hon-machi Along Kishu Kaido (Duration: Approx. 30 Mins)
When you’re done, walk on the nearby Kishu Kaido, which was an important main road that tied Osaka and Wakayama together back in the Edo period (1603 - 1867). You should eventually reach Hon-machi - the most lively and busy part of Kishiwada City back in the day. Located to the west of Kishiwada Castle, it offers an atmospheric townscape lined with rows of old homes and retro structures with distinct features like tiled roofs, mezzanines (intermediate floors that don’t extend over the whole floorspace of buildings), and latticed bay windows.
<6:00 pm> Try the Senshu Specialty, Mizu Nasu, at Yosakoi (Duration: Approx. 60 Mins)
Along the way, you should eventually stumble upon a restaurant called “Yosakoi”. This is where you can challenge yourself to one of Senshu’s specialties, mizu nasu*!
*A variety of eggplant that’s said to only grow in the Senshu region. Compared to regular varieties, it has a thin skin and is unusually round. It contains a lot of water and has a faint sweetness to it.
The restaurant’s signature “Mizu Nasu Asazuke” (460 JPY (excl. tax)) consists of mizu nasu that’s been pickled in nuka (salted rice bran) and left to ferment naturally. It is a delicious menu item that’s soft and juicy, with just the right amount of saltiness so that you can still taste the eggplant underneath. It’s so popular with the locals that a stall selling this dish has been set up right next door! You can have it by itself or in a set meal with the hearty “Meibutsu Mizu Nasu-zen” (1,380 JPY (excl. tax)), which includes grilled fish, tempura, udon, and rice.
11:30 am - 2:30 pm, 5:00 pm - 11:00 pm
*No scheduled closing days
For the second day, you’ll be touring around hot springs in the mountains, ancient burial mounds, and the former urban area of Sakai City. If you’re visiting on a Sunday, why not make like a tourist and savor some fresh seafood for breakfast at the morning market in Tajiri Port? There’s delicacies like tako meshi (mixed rice with octopus) and anago (conger eel) tempura!
<9:00 am> Go on an Excursion to Aizen-do in Mizuma-dera Temple (Duration: Approx. 45 Mins)
To reach this temple, take the Mizuma Railway from Kaizuka Station to Mizumakannon Station. The uniqueness of the railway station’s design, which was based on Mizuma-dera Temple, will have you wanting to take several pictures! The building is also a registered Important Cultural Property of Japan.
From the station, it takes around 10 minutes on foot to reach Mizuma-dera Temple (official name: Ryukoku-zan Mizuma-dera). Mizuma-dera Temple is appointed as a special temple under the Tendai sect of Buddhism (falls under the Mahayana branch of Buddhism, where believers work to achieve enlightenment in their lifetime), and is also home to Osaka Prefecture’s only three-storied pagoda.
The specific spot that you’ll be visiting, Aizen-do, was dubbed as a “couple’s holy land” for an existing legend surrounding a couple that managed to bypass their social statuses and stay together. There are Buddha statues of love and marriage enshrined within it, and it’s rumored that if you wish for love, you just might get it!
<10:00 am> Enjoy Hot Springs and Lunch at Okumizuma Onsen (Duration: 120 Mins)
Next on this model course is Okumizuma Onsen, which is surrounded by green mountains. As it is a hot spring inn, why not stay for a night?
Though you can just go for a quick dip in their baths (1,080 JPY (incl. tax)/Adult), since you came all the way to the inn, wouldn’t it be nicer to spend a bit more time there? Many visitors recommend renting a room and trying their Day-trip Plan (from 5,400 JPY (incl. tax) for lunch), which is a kaiseki that makes use of many seasonal ingredients. If you follow their suggestions, you’ll be able to relax to your heart’s content after soaking in the inn’s baths!
Get rid of everything unpleasant by soaking in the inn’s open-air bath, from which you can gaze at a mountain stream and beautiful seasonal scenery. It is the only bath in Osaka Prefecture to use sodium bicarbonate saline water, which is highly reputed to beautify people’s skin by exfoliating it and getting rid of stubborn dirt.
<1:30 pm> Be Astonished by History While Viewing the Nintoku-tenno-ryo Tumulus (Duration: 30 Mins)
When you’re done soaking in the hot spring, rush over to Nintoku-tenno-ryo Tumulus, which is counted as one of the world’s top three burial mounds*. It is part of the Mozu-Furuichi Ancient Tumulus Clusters, which combines Mozu (a part of Sakai City that stretches out for roughly 4km in all directions), where 44 tumuli still remain, and Furuichi - a southeastern part of Osaka Prefecture that has its own tumulus cluster.
The Nintoku-tenno-ryo Tumulus is the representative burial mound of these two places. Believed to have been made around the mid-fifth century, it is Japan’s largest keyhole-shaped tumulus (a burial mound shape unique to Japan that looks like a combination of a circle with a square).
Although the inside is closed off to the public, there are several walking paths around the tumulus that will give you an idea of its grand scale. Why not take a quick stroll while peeking at it through the trees? You can also listen to a volunteer guide explain facts about the tumulus at the worshipping area by the front. There are tablets that offer translations in English, Chinese, and Korean, so you can listen along even if you don’t know Japanese.
*A tumulus (otherwise known as burial mound, or in Japanese, kofun) refers to a grave built in Japan between the late third century to the seventh century. Their unique appearance, which looks like a tall mountain of dirt, is what sets them apart. It is believed that important people were buried in them.
<2:00 pm> Learn About Sakai City’s History and Culture at the Sakai City Museum (Duration: 60 Mins)
If you visit the tumuli, you also need to pay a visit to the Sakai City Museum! It lies within Daisen Park, which is just beyond the worshipping area of the Nintoku-tenno-ryo Tumulus. It contains a plethora of information on Sakai City’s history and culture, from its beginnings to recent times.
Some examples of items showcased include ancient artifacts, matchlocks made in the city, and documents on Sakai City’s history, art, archaeology, customs, and agriculture.
They also have educational programs that make use of movies. The Virtual Reality Experience (800 JPY/General, Japanese only) - where you can view a tumulus cluster from all angles, including 300m up in the air - is especially popular with tourists. You’ll feel like you’re actually there! Through the Mozu Tumulus Cluster Theatre (also in English, Chinese, and Korean), you can see just how large ancient tumulus clusters really are.
9:30 am - 5:15 pm (last entry at 4:30 pm)
Mondays (open if it falls on a national holiday or general holiday), Beginning and end of the year
200 JPY/General, 100 JPY/University and high school student, 50 JPY/Junior high and elementary school student
<3:30 pm> Wander About Sakai City’s Former Urban Area (Duration: 180 Mins)
When you’re done learning all that you can, walk in the direction of Sakai City’s former urban area and wander as you please. This neighborhood used to prosper as an international trading ground during the Middle Ages. It is still dotted with plenty of retro buildings from that time, so just strolling around should invoke some kind of nostalgia for a time long gone.
Osaka’s only tram line, the Hankai Tramway (210 JPY/time), runs through this district. Several interesting spots fall along its course, including the famous long-established wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets) stores “Honke Kojima” and “Kambukuro”, as well as Sakai Plaza of Rikyu and Akiko, Risho no Mori - a museum connected to the famous Sakai-born tea master, Sen no Rikyu. Why not visit these spots while leisurely riding the tram? There’s a great-value 1-day free boarding pass (600 JPY/General) that’ll let you get off and on as much as you’d like!
Don’t forget to visit the northern part of the area, which still has a townscape that reminds one of the Edo period. If you get off at the Ayanocho tram stop, you should see the Yamaguchi Residence (200 JPY/visit). This is an old townhouse that’s open to the public. Why not pay a visit?
This townhouse is actually one of the few remaining civilian homes from the early Edo period. While the outside may seem small, you can head inside to see the spacious interior, which comes with a dirt floor and stunning structure beams. It has many spots that will have you itching to take a photo, such as the tearoom, porch, and extravagant living room. Take a look around and envisage how its owners must have lived like in the past!
Don’t Forget These Places! (1) Savor Tea Sweets at Tsuboichi Seicha Sakai Main Branch (Duration: 45 Mins)
Looking to take a break from sightseeing the area? Try the long-established Tsuboichi Seicha, a cafe that was established in 1850! They specialize in sweets that make use of tea, as well as delicious Japanese tea. Their modern Japanese interior, which was originally a townhouse from the Edo period, is strikingly beautiful.
Their signature item is the Premium Matcha Parfait (800 JPY (excl. tax)), which beautifully combines Japanese and Western elements. It is a filling and gorgeous parfait consisting of rich matcha (powdered green tea) ice cream, homemade anko (sweet red bean paste), and fresh cream. It also has two layers of jelly - one made with refreshing and aromatic hojicha (roasted green tea), another that faintly tastes of milk. The diced arare (grilled glutinous sticky rice) scattered over the fresh cream topping adds a pleasant crunch!
Matcha lovers almost always order the 3 Flavors of Matcha Set (1,280 JPY (excl. tax)), which is full of the goodness of matcha and has a pleasantly bitter taste. It is made up of matcha ice cream, matcha polvoron (Spanish shortbread), and Sakai Rikyu Mochi with a matcha sweet bean paste filling. All three components only have a faint sweetness to them, and the whole set draws out the full potential of matcha.
*A new branch of this cafe is set to open inside Nankai Namba Station on October 17, 2018.
Cafe: 11:00 am - 6:00 pm (L.O. 5:30 pm)
Store: 10:30 am - 6:00 pm
Tuesdays (open if it falls on a national holiday or festival day), Beginning and end of the year
Don’t Forget These Places! (2) Buy Your Own Japanese Knife at Jikko (Duration: 45 Mins)
Though Sakai City has several traditional industries that are still alive and booming, it is most well known for its cutlery. Established in 1900, Jikko has roughly 100 different types of knives up for sale! Although it is surrounded by many other stores that make and sell knives, this is still considered an extraordinary amount.
Go past the Japan-esque entrance and make your way to the showroom on the second floor. You’ll find a bunch of knives beautifully lined up, looking almost like art pieces. There’s bound to be one that you’re interested in! If there is, why not test it out in-store?
One interesting point is that you can actually get your name carved into the knife for free! They can also teach you how to sharpen your purchased knife if you ask them.
*They have staff who can speak English and Chinese.
Monday - Friday: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Saturday: 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Sundays, National Holidays
More Interesting Spots to Visit!
If you end up visiting on a day when there's no festivals going on, why not try exploring these spots?
LOVE RINKu at Rinku Park
Offering gorgeous vistas of the sea and sunsets, Rinku Park is located on the opposite shore of Kansai International Airport. LOVE RINKu is a monument in this park that was made to wish for strong, everlasting bonds between people, whether they be friends, family, or a couple. You can carve proof of your strong bond into a heart-shaped plate (800 JPY (incl. tax)/each, padlock included) and attach it to a section of the monument.
*You can purchase it at the tourist exchange plaza, Rinku Machi-dokoro, in front of Rinku-town Station’s ticket gates.
8:00 am - 11:00 pm
*Open from 10:00 am - 6:00 pm on December 31 and January 1.
*Closed during facility inspection days.
LOVE RINKu at Rinku Park
This marble-covered beach was named a “lover’s paradise” by Osaka Prefecture. Many visitors like to take pictures of a heart-shaped monument there that stands out against the pure white beach. Also, make sure to visit the nearby Southern-Pia! You’ll be able to find fresh local veggies and fruits. There’s also an eat-in corner where you can try out Japanese dishes like kaisen-don, which is a rice bowl that with plenty of fresh seafood on top.
8:00 am - 6:00 pm
Rinku Premium Outlets
If you’re looking to shop, this is the place to visit! This outlet mall offers all sorts of branded goods from all over the world, including Japan, at special prices. You’ll find around 210 stores here, ranging from high-end brands to more casual fare and even sports stores.
Shops: 10:00 am - 8:00 pm
Restaurants: 11:00 am - 9:00 pm
Cafes: 9:30 am - 8:00 pm
*Depends on the store.
3rd Thursday of February
AEON MALL Rinku Sennan
This is another commercial complex that you can visit if you want to shop. You can find all sorts of stores here, from fast fashion brands like Uniqlo and Muji, to dollar stores and other shops that sell clothes, miscellaneous goods, cosmetics, and consumer electronics.
Brand Stores / Food Court / Restaurant Area: 10:00 am - 10:00 pm
AEON: 9:00 am - 10:00 pm
AEON Supermarket: 8:00 am - 11:00 pm
*No scheduled closing days.
Strawberry Farm Haru
If you plan to visit Senshu sometime from January to early June, try paying a visit to Strawberry Farm Haru in Kishiwada City. You’ll be given 60 minutes to pick and taste strawberries! There is a corner where you can purchase cakes, ice cream, and drinks. Note that you must reserve your place in advance.
9:00 am - 12:00 pm
*If they decide to open up more times, the farm will also be open from 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm.
From January 5 to early June
2,500 JPY/General, 2,000 JPY/Elementary school student, 1,500 JPY/3 years old to below elementary school age, 500 JPY/1 - 2 years old
*All prices include tax.
*They have irregularly scheduled holidays.
There are many other ways to enjoy Senshu. You can be like many other tourists and experience a lovely night-time view at the Sakai Senboku Coastal Industrial Area, ride on one of the many cycling routes that’ll take you all over the region, or watch the KIX Senshu International Marathon in the winter. If you’re going to visit Osaka anyway, drop by Senshu and experience all of its charms for yourself!
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*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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