Hyogo Prefecture is home to several well-known sightseeing spots, such as Kobe City – origin of Kobe beef – and Himeji Castle.Kobe started off as a trade city for marine products. It is recommended to stroll about its historical buildings like Kitano Ijinkan-gai and the Former Foreign Settlement, gaze at the scenery from its harbor, or do some shopping around the area. There are plenty of bakeries, Western sweets stores, and cafes, so why not drop by some while strolling? There’s also the dazzling night view of the city from Mt. Rokko, which is considered one of Japan’s top three night views. The city is also extremely close to Japan’s oldest hot spring, Arima Onsen, so it is recommended to stay there if you plan to explore Kobe.Himeji is where you can find Japan’s first registered World Heritage Site, Himeji Castle. This precious castle is famous for its castle tower, which is the original one that was built over 400 years ago. The beautiful castle walls, plastered white, gave the castle the nickname “White Heron Castle” (Shirasagi-jo) for looking like a white heron about to take flight. There are more original structures and artifacts remaining, so actually enter the castle and try imagining what the world was like when samurai existed!Located in-between Kobe and Himeji, Akashi is a nature-blessed area that’s home to Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, which stands above rapid tides. Many things in this region have “Akashi” added to their name, such as Akashi sea bream and Akashi octopus, and they are considered to be of top quality in Japan. One must-try dish is the Akashi-yaki, which is called “tamagoyaki” by locals. This delicious dish, whose roots can be traced back to takoyaki, consists of fluffy dough and chewy octopus. At Uontana – a shopping street close to the ocean where you’ll find fresh fish lined up in the noon – you can take in the lively atmosphere of locals selecting fish that are about to jump out of their containers, as well as savor local delicacies like sea bream and tamagoyaki.Accessible from Kobe via high-speed ferry or the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, Awaji Island is a place that you should visit around spring – when the blooming flowers make for a particularly beautiful view – or summer. If you have some extra free days, why not make a visit to Shikoku from this island?Home to Kinosaki Onsen and Yumura Onsen, Tajima is an area that’s great for outdoor activities like hiking, sea bathing, and skiing. It is also blessed by both the mountains and the sea, teeming with crabs and fish from the Sea of Japan, as well as Tajima cattle – the antecedent to Kobe cattle. Takeda Castle, which is also called “heaven’s castle”, also lies in this area, meaning that you can enjoy the magical scene of nature and history coming together here.For souvenirs, it is recommended that you purchase long-lasting sweets or Nada, which is one of Japan’s top three sake. Why not tour around a brewery and pick whichever one you like as a souvenir?
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