About Northern Kansai

Izushi Castle Town
"Little Kyoto" of Northern Hyogo Prefecture
Image of Izushi Castle Town
Image of Izushi Castle Town and Map
Map of Izushi Castle Town
Castle Town

Izushi is a castle town that flourished during the Edo era, about 200-300 years ago.
There are several fine displays of traditional architecture found throughout the town, this is why Izushi is designated as a national preservation district of important buildings.
The town is also famous for its own original style of soba, Japanese buckwheat noodles. Approximately 50 soba shops line the town's streets.

Points of Interest
Castle Ruins and Arikoyama-inari
Castle Ruins and Arikoyama-inari

Izushi castle use to sit at the top of the mountain commanding an impressive view over the town. Remains of the castle are still preserved at the foot of the mountain. You can climb the old stone steps up to a small shrine located partially up the mountain. Leading up to the shrine are 37 vermilion lacquered torii gates that creates a type of tunnel underneath the Japanese momiji trees that are a lush green color in spring and summer then change brilliant colors of red, yellow and orange in the fall. The castle grounds are also a popular spot for cherry blossom viewing in the spring.

Eirakukan
Eirakukan

Built in 1901, this is the oldest Kabuki theater in the Kansai region and the oldest Kabuki theater building in Japan that is still standing in the same place it was built.
After being closed in 1964, Eirakukan was restored and reopened to the public in 2008. Various performances such as grand Kabuki, Kyogen, and Rakugo (storyteller performances) are performed even today since its restoration. Visitors can take tours of the building and see up close the features of the Kabuki theater. Visitors are taken behind the scenes on a guided tour, where they can see the main runway, the original production signs, below the stage and into the dressing rooms.
Eirakukan holds annual Kabuki performances only during the month of November.

Activities
Crab
Zazen - seated meditation

Practice full-fledged Zazen, seated meditation, at this zen temple in Izushi. At the end of your session you are also given the choice to try a special vegetarian dish and a traditional Japanese sweet. Zazen is limited to 10 people per day and advance reservations are needed.

Zazen is a type of seated meditation that starts with correcting your breathing posture originated in India. The doctrine of Zen Buddhism can be described as wordless communication, or expression without language. You can escape from the hectic everyday and open your ears to the sounds of nature during Zazen.
You will hear birds chirping and the wind whispering, sounds that you probably wouldn't normally hear. Then your mind will soon have a sense of unity. This is why many people experience Zazen.

Tajima Beef
Handmade Soba - buckwheat noodles

Great taste by hand-making
More than one million tourists a year visit Izushi for sightseeing, looking for "castle town streets" and eating "Izushi plate soba".
The main attraction of Izushi is soba noodle served on small plates of Izushi white porcelain. Now you can enjoy experiencing making the soba noodle at a workshop. You will be able to taste soba noodle you have just made.

Local Goods and Specialties
Izushi Sara Soba
Izushi Sara Soba

Generally, Japan’s soba is served on a large dish. But Izushi Sara Soba is served in small portions on small plates. Enjoy a variety of taste by using many types of seasonings. There are about 50 soba noodle shops in Izushi.

Izushi Sara Soba
Izushi Yaki

Izushi-yaki is known for its translucent white color and dates back from the early history of Japan. The pottery is renowned for its mysterious whiteness.

Access

You can get to Izushi from JR Kinosaki Onsen Station or JR Toyooka Station by the public bus “Zentan Bus”. It is about 1hour from Kinosaki Onsen and 30 minutes from Toyooka. You can catch the bus at the bus stops located in front of JR Kinosaki Onsen Station and JR Toyooka Station.
Bus times from JR Kinosaki Onsen Station: 11:31(Monday - Friday) and 9:13/10:13/11:33 (Saturday, Sunday, Holidays).
Bus times from JR Toyooka Station: Buses run every 30 minutes every day from about 7am to 9pm.

Accommodations
Izushi hotel accommodation Japanese house
Nishidaya
Experience a traditional Japanese home. Perfect for groups and families.
Rent this entire home located in the castle town's newest sightseeing area. The natural wood, stone and earthen interior create a characteristic atmosphere giving you a sense of tranquility the moment you step inside.