Discover great advice from our passionate guides and local experts in our series “Ask Our Guides”!
What is your favorite Arigato Japan food tour and why?
To celebrate the last cold days of winter, this month we asked our beloved, adventurous guides Hiroe and Yuko what are their favorite places to visit during the coldest seasons in the Kansai area.
Don’t you feel tired from exploring the busy city areas? Get out in the countryside for some refreshment! There are some skiing spots as easy day trips in Shiga and Kobe. If you stay in Kyoto, I recommend Shiga. I’ve just visited ‘Hakodateyama’ in Omiimazu in Shiga with my family. It takes about an hour from Kyoto to Omiimazu by JR Shinkaisoku limited express (970 yen in 2019). You’ll get in a bus for another 20 minutes (220 yen) and finally take aerial tramway for 15 more minutes (1850 yen for round trip). As the local bus service is not too frequent, I advise you to check out their schedule in advance. Although you cannot expect the powdery snow that is famous in Nagano or Hokkaido, it’s great to have a view of Lake Biwa from the top of the mountain. All you need for skiing is rentable. Local food like wild duck hot pots and enjoying the hot spring spas in the neighborhood are worth trying too!
Kinosaki Onsen (城崎温泉) is located in Hyogo Prefecture on the coast of the Sea of Japan. This pleasant town, built along a willow-lined river, is one of the top onsen destinations of the Kansai Region. Hot springs were discovered in Kinosaki around the 8th century and since then the town has developed into a charmingly old-fashioned onsen town. In the evening guests of the local ryokans (Inns) stroll about town in yukata and geta (cotton robe kimonos and wooden clogs), visiting the numerous public baths and delicious fresh crab and Tajima steaks are well known in the area.
I like having nice food at the traditional Ryokan (inn). They have a famous 7 hot springs and you can visit there dressed in Yukata. You can really feel the old nostalgic Japan. Winter here is nice because they have hot springs and also have fresh crab. They have snow every winter, too.
Takeda Castle (竹田城跡, Takedajō-seki) is a ruined castle in Asago City, Hyogo Prefecture, that is also known as the “castle floating in the sky” because of the way it appears to be floating on a sea of clouds on foggy autumn mornings.
The best time to view the floating castle is in October and November around sunrise (6:00 to 6:30) when a sea of clouds can be seen on one out of three mornings on average. The most popular viewing spot is from Ritsuunkyo on the mountain slopes opposite the castle. It is possible to reach Ritsuunkyo’s parking lot by car, after which a steep dirt trail winds up the mountain with multiple observation decks along its course. The lower decks can be reached in a few steps from the parking lot, but the best views are from viewpoints 1 and 2, which are 30-40 minutes up the trail.