A good hike in the hills above Kobe. Take the Hankyu to the Ashigawa station; follow the river on the left side. The road will sort of end but stay left and keep going uphill. This will take you to the “Rock Garden” after you pass a narrow path with stores on each side. Some interesting climbing in the “Rock Garden”. Once you get to the top there are many ways to get back to town.
This trip is in the Kyoto area and can take a variety of forms and each one is certainly worth the trip.
Take the JR to Kyoto and change for the train going to Kameoka.
Trip A – get off at Saga station, take the “Romantic Train”; tickets can be bought next to the station. This open air train will follow the river and lets you off a few JR stops upriver and you can return to Saga by non-romantic train. Class 1
Trip B – Get off at Kameoka, about three stops past Saga. After leaving the station turn left and after a short walk there are boats that go down the river. It takes about two hours to get to Arashiyama. Class 1
Trip C – Get off one stop past Saga (Hozukyo??). This station is on a bridge across the river. After leaving the station follow the river (right, uphill). Stay on this road and after you pass a red bridge there will be a turn off on a trail down to a stream. Take this trail and follow the stream – an interesting walk. After about an hour you come to what looks like a village (hotels). Make a sharp turn uphill on a road and eventually through a tunnel. After the tunnel just keep going down hill and you will reach Arashiyama. There are many ways to go. Try to stay right toward the river. Class 3
If you end up in Arashiyama, there is much to see and do; monkeys, row boats to rent, people watching, food and nearby temples, bike rentals at the Hankyu station and the Saga JR station. Return trip can be by the JR Saga station or by Hankyu Arashiyama station. The Hankyu station is across the river to the left. Change at Katsura to the Express train going to Umeda (Osaka), change at Juso or Umeda to the Limited Express back to Kobe.
Awaji is a very large island with many things to see. Once you get away from the coast road it is a rural place. One possible walk will take about two hours once you are on the island. Take the JR to Akashi. Walk toward the harbour away from park-castle towers. There are two feries to Awaji, one for cars and the other for people. The people ferry is on the first big street to the right as you leave the station. It is not a very big place. About a 25 minute ferry ride.
On Awaji, turn right on the road outside the ferry terminal; continue for a short distance and you will come to a shopping street on the left. Follow the shopping street until you come to a stream (encased in concrete). Turn left, following the stream uphill. You will pass a cemetery on the right and then after a little more walking there will be a small bridge on the right. Cross the bridge onto a paved path. Woods, rice fields, an old shrine. Easy walking but uphill. Eventually you will come to an open area of rice fields and roads. There is a temple on a rise to the right that doesn’t look like a temple. Take a left until you reach a T and turn right following the signs to “Awaji Accommodation”. Eventually you will see a sign to a spring; go that way. You will pass some ponds and maybe a cow or two, a swimming pool and not many people. There is a sign to “Eight Mat Rock” – don’t go that way, but go downhill and eventually you will come to another ferry. That ferry (much larger than the Akashi Ferry) will take you to Suma.
Another trip into the hills above Kobe. You can link this up with the trip from Ashigawa. Take the Hankyu and get off at Mikage and walk uphill as far as the road will take you. To the right will be a stream coming from the mountains. Follow that on a road past a crematorium. Shortly after the crematorium there is a trail leading up the mountain. There are many branches but if you continue going uphill you will come to a tea house (food & drink). From the top, if you go right you will meet up with the trail down to Ashiya. If you cross the road and go downhill (the other side of the mountain) you will come to Arima. From there you can take the Kobe Dentetsu Line changing at Shinkaichi for Sannomiya. There are other ways to return from Arima. If you go left you will come to Mt Rokko and the rope way. A good day’s walk whichever way you go.
Uji is south of Kyoto; a beautiful river and temple. Good for hiking and bike riding (bikes can be rented at the train station). From Kyoto take the Keihan Uji line to the last stop. This may require some changing. If you end up on the main line, the Yodo station is the station for the Kyoto race track (also interesting). You can get to the Keihan line near the Hankyu-Kawaramachi station. This is a tea growing area. Many possibilities.
Near the school, good for sakura. Good views of the Inland Sea. About a 20 minute walk from Suma JR station, you will come to the beginning of the rope way. The rope way is in three stages with small parks at each stage. If you want to walk up: walk towards Shioya along the main road till you reach a stream and an overhead conveyor belt for earth moving. Just past the stream is a trail leading up steps to the top of the mountain. When you reach the top you can go left to the rope way, or right towards Kobe. The trail to the right will follow the ridge until it comes to a long set of steps leading down to a highway. At the bottom, turn right and you will come to Suma. A good afternoon walk.
If all the temples and shrines in Kyoto are too much for you, here is a smaller version up in the mountains south of Osaka. There are good mountain views both on the train and once you get there.
Take the JR to Umeda (or your favourite alternative!). From there take the Midosuji line to Namba. Change to the Nankai-Koya line to the last stop. At the ticket machine for the Nankai-Koya line there is a button for the Koya-san which gives you a ticket for both the train and the cable car up the mountain. The trip from Kobe is about 2 hours.
Once you get to the last stop the cable care is right there at the end of the platform. At the top there are buses, but the walk is a good one. You can go right or left. If you go right, the walk is along a “highway” with some good views of the valley below. A fairly long walk until you reach the gate to the “town”. I am not sure where the buses go. Once you get to the centre there are many temples to visit. Probably the most interesting place is the ancient cemetery with gigantic cedar trees; a very interesting place.
This is a long trip with a little bit of walking and little or no train changing. Hikone is a castle town on Lake Biwa, there is a beach on the lake, mountains with a shrine and Zen temple above the town and a castle in the middle of the town. There is a lot to see in a small area.
Take the JR towards Kyoto. There is a train that goes to Maibara which is the stop after Hikone. If you don’t catch that one you will probably have to change in Kyoto, but stay on the same line (Tokaido main line). From the station if you walk straight ahead you will come to the castle. From the castle you can make your way to the beach or in the other direction to the mountains. It may be difficult to find a way to cross the railroad tracks – there are not many crossings. There is a good climb up the hills to the shrine and temple with great views of the city and castle below, and Lake Biwa.
This can be done in a long day, but an overnight stay may be better. Ise is one of the oldest and most sacred Shinto shrines and Toba is noted for pearls. Take the JR to Osaka and change to the Loop Line. On the Loop Line get off at Tsuruhashi and change to the Kintetsu Line going to Toba. Take the Limited express. There is an additional charge depending on which train you take. Nice ride through mountains and countryside.
At Toba station there is an island a short walk away. On this island there is a museum about pearls and pearl diving exhibitions, interesting, but it may get really crowded. There are boat tours available and some good walking up in the hills.
On the way to Toba you will pass Ise. There are many maps and directions to the shrines from the station. The main shrine is one of the oldest in Japan.
This place is a little different, a little out of the way and worth the trip. It is noted for lacquer ware which comes in all shapes and sizes. It is really a fishing town and has a great morning market with all sorts of crawling things for sale. If you go to Kanazawa, you might want to keep on going up the Noto Peninsula to Wajima. There is a beach and an interesting walk along the rocky shore. Good views of the Japan Sea and Wajima Harbour from the hills.
From Kanazawa take the JR or the Moto line to Wajima (the last stop). You may have to change depending on the train you take.
One possible trip is to return by way of Takayama; spend a night in Kanazawa, another in Wajima and a third in Takayama.
A castle town on the Japan Sea and next to a large lake. A short way out of town by bus is a river gorge with interesting rock formations and very interesting statues carved into the rocks. A long trip but worth it.
From Okayama take the San-in Line to Matsue (about 3 hours). There is plenty of accommodation available.
If you are in Matsue you might as well go to Izumo which is the next station to the west. About an hour by train. In Izumo there is a very ancient shrine which is very large and simple. A short bus ride away is a lighthouse with some wonderful views of the Japan Sea.
This is good for some serious hiking or beach sitting. Or spend two days and do both. It is very easy to get to. Take the JR to Omi-Miako. There is one train a day that leaves from Sannomiya and goes directly there about 9.30 am. That’s the quickest way. If you miss that, change at Kyoto for the train to Omi-Miako. At Omi-Miako the beach is one way the mountains are the other. The beach is very long and you can pick your spot depending on the amount of company you want. For the mountains just walk through the rice fields (there is a road) to a very busy highway. At the highway turn left and you will come to a river (there may not be any water). At the river turn right and walk uphill.
This can be a long walk and there is a bus that runs about every hour. It is about an hour’s walk with only one turn; when you come to a house with some vending machines, turn right. This will bring you to a ski-lift. The ski-lift takes you to a rope way, which takes you to the end of the the rope way. There you will find all kinds of trails leading in many different directions. This is not easy walking but it is deep woods, cold streams, a few monkeys and places to camp. At the top of the rope way there is a limited restaurant to the right. There is no map at the top, but trails are well marked in kanji. It would be best to have some kind of map before you start walking. There are probably other ways down but the rope way, ski-lift, and bus is probably the simplest and most relaxing. You can walk for as long as you like on top.