This is a small town north and west of Himeji. Take the JR to Himeji and then change to the Kishin Line about four stops going towards Tsuyama. At Tatsuno station walk straight ahead toward the river, cross the river and turn right. Get off the main road onto a small winding street with old houses. There is a small castle and above the castle a small garden with a tea house.
Can be done in a day but two days would be better. There are many hotels (of all types) available, this is a big city. Reservations can be made at the Tourist Centre outside the train station.
From Kobe take the JR to Okayama changing at Himeji. The trip to Okayama is long, and if time, rather than money, is important, it would be better to take the Shinkansen from Kobe to Okayama (alt: JR to Nishi Akashi, Shinkansen to Okayama). At Okayama change for the train to Takamatsu, which doesn’t run too frequently. This train crosses a very long bridge to Shikoku, with good views of the Inland Sea.
From Takamatsu Station walk straight ahead along a wide street to the garden – about 20 minutes. The garden is beautiful anytime of year.
A short bus ride out of town is Yashima, a nice park on a hill overlooking the city and the Inland Sea.
++ There are many ferries from Takamatsu going to Kobe, Osaka, Shodoshima, and other points.
Probably my favourite place (at least for now). A place the tourists haven’t found yet. A great place to bring a bottle of wine, a little cheese, and anything else. In winter be ready for snow. There isn’t much there, just the remains of a castle, extensive series of walls, and a wonderful view of the valleys below.
Take the JR to Himeji and change for the Bantan Line going to Todayama. Get off at Takeda (don’t take the express!). From the station you can see the castle walls on the hill across the tracks. There are some stores in the town straight ahead as you leave the station, if you want some food. There are two ways to get to the castle, the woods route and the road route. The woods route: across the tracks there is a shrine (long red steps) and a temple (white wall). Keep the shrine on your right and go along the white wall up the hill. This path will lead through a cedar grove and wind its way up to the castle. The road route: walk straight from the station, make the first right and walk through town. After about ten minutes make a right turn across the tracks and follow the road up the hill to the castle.
Editor’s note: I think George would be both disappointed and amused to know that the tourists have indeed finally discovered this place and it’s now referred to in guide books as the “Machu Picchu of Japan.” It’s heavily promoted by local tourism boards, and now features an extensive system of paths covered with some type of synthetic material and lined with ropes. Kind of a drag since you used to be able to roam freely and have a picnic on the grass. We went on a rainy day and it wasn’t too busy, but it sees a lot of visitors these days.
Very easy to get to and worth the trip. This castle is a good one to use as a judge of all other castles you might see while traveling around. Don’t just go to the castle but walk around the outside or maybe up some of the hills behind the castle to get a very different view.
Take the JR right to Himeji. At the station go to the main street and you can see the castle. It is about a 15 minute walk from the station. (Alternatives – take the Sanyo line from Suma, and walk through the shopping arcade to the right of the main street as you face the castle.)
While you are in Himeji this is a good “other trip” if you are tired of castles and not yet tired of temples. This is a temple that is a little bit different and not really a tourist place. You may see pilgrims in traditional clothing making the trip from temple to temple. There are also very good views of the city of Himeji and the hills to the north. This can be a very quiet place and people go there to pray. Take the JR to Himeji (or Sanyo). At Himeji station cross the street (straight ahead) to the bus terminal. Take the #6 or #8 bus to Mt. Sosha (the buses are marked in romaji). I think the #11 goes there too as I took one back from there. These are city buses and the ride may be crowded and bumpy, but it is only about 20 minutes. When you get to Mt. Sosha (the last stop) there is a rope way up the mountain. At the top, there is a pleasant uphill walk through cedar trees. There are horse-drawn carts that can take you up but that is not really necessary. There are a number of buildings associated with the temple, and most have a brief explanation in English. There is also a shop where you can get something to eat.
This is a nice somewhat tourist-free island that is a good overnight stop. You can take the ferry from Kobe directly and there is a place to stay right by the ferry terminal on Shodo-shima. Bike rental is available right there. Another way to get to a different part of the island is to take the JR to Himeji. At the bus terminal across the street from the station take the bus to Himeji port. At Himeji port there is a ferry to Shodo-shima which takes about an hour and a half. There is a bus service on the island but on weekends it is not too frequent but you can get anywhere.
There is a very reasonable and beautiful inn in Ikeda. Monkeys and interesting rock formations in the mountains in the centre of the island. Just about anywhere you go there are good views and just very pleasant hiking, biking or even bus riding. Read the sentimental Japanese novel “Twenty-Four Eyes” before you go.
This town is an interesting mixture of a few not spectacular but interesting sights. It is a castle town but not much remains of the castle but a nice park. There are good street signs and good flat walking. There is a very pretty walk along the sea a little way out of town.
Take the JR to Himeji and change to the line going to Ako. You might have to change at Aioi. From the Ako station walk straight ahead to the castle. From the castle go left and you will see an amusement park in the distance to the right. Ahead there is a lighthouse on a hill. Walk towards the lighthouse, any way will do. Once you get near the lighthouse you can go up or down. Down will take you to a very nice walk along the sea.
There is no reason to go to Nii, unless you want a nice walk in mountains and countryside. There is also a very pretty lake up in the mountains. Not a tourist attraction.
Take the JR to Himeji and change to the Bantan Line. Nii is an express stop. From the train station turn right and cross the tracks when you can. That is probably the main road. Once you cross the tracks you will come to a river; cross that as well. Then walk uphill. There is a main road going that way but next to it is a country road going the same way. After about 30 minutes you will come to a park-like area and a dam. You can walk around the lake above the dam.