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Kobe & Himeji (Hyogo Prefecture)

Hyogo Prefecture covers some 8400?, and the main locations that are visited are Kobe City, Arima Onsen Hot Springs, Himeji Castle. Hyogo Prefecture is also the largest producer of Japanese Sake (Rice Wine) with predominantly the Yamada-nishiki grain of rice being used.

Kobe is the capital of Hyogo Prefecture and one of Japan’s ten largest cities. Located between the sea and the Rokko mountain range, Kobe is also considered one of Japan’s most attractive cities. The night view from just under 1000 meters of Mt.Rokko is known around the world as a million dollar view and one of the top 3 night views in Japan.

Kobe has been an important port city for many centuries. Its port was among the first to be opened to foreign trade in the 19th century alongside the ports of Yokohama, Nagasaki, Hakodate and Niigata.
In 1995, Kobe was hit by the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, which killed over 5000 people and destroyed tens of thousands of buildings. Today the city is completely rebuilt, and few signs of the terrible event remain, but if you get to Meriken Park you can still see the cracked port. Kobe is also famous for its high consumption of coffee, bread and western style cakes.   

Located in the mountains of Mt Rokko range, is the oldest Onsen (Hot Springs) village in Japan, Arima Onsen. Documented from the year 900, Arima has relaxed, healed and rejuvenated an uncountable amount of people in the unique rusty color Hot Springs. There are two types of hot springs here, clear and rusty. the rusty one is also clear, but when the minerals have a chemical reaction with the air, the color changes to a rustic brown.  One of the best options for a luxury Hot Springs resort, if you are wanting to get away from the crowds of other locations throughout Japan.

Also approximately 40 minutes by train from Kobe is the City of Himeji. Himeji boasts Himeji Castle which was one of the first World Cultural Heritage sites picked within Japan. Himeji Castle is also the most visited castle in Japan. Gone under a 5 year restoration, the castle exactly stays the same as hundreds of years ago, but as the roof tiles (kawara) have been replaced making the castle an astounding bright white color, and also reviving the name to The Castle of the White Heron (Shiro-Sagi-jo). Himeji also offers the Kokoen Gardens, and a chance to enjoy a mountain top Temple complex and a chance to experience and authentic Zazen meditation session, where you maybe the only Travelers there.

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We’re back in New York after a rewarding trip to China an Japan. No new ravel until Christmas week (Mexico) and two European trips in March and May. Your itnerary worked very well for us. It was the right mix of escorted and self travel – and we could not have had better weather in both countries. The bullet trains were great (living in the Northeast corridor of the US and dealing with Amtrak makes for a sad comparison) The guides were all knowledgeable, articulate and friendly (with special kudos to Tomomi Azuma in Kyoto), and the hotels were al excellent. A small nit for which I probably should have warned you is that I have some back problems (not debilitating as I play tennis at least three times a week), so two ryokan experiences might have been too much (but that’s on me). Again, thanks so much for your guidance. We won’t hesitate to recommend your services in the future. Richard... READ MORE

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