Izushi is a small town located in Toyooka, Hyogo prefecture, identified for its historic buildings and soba noodles. Even the town is small, there are so many things to see and explore within this dense town. I feel so grateful to visit this wonderful place and bring back lots of unforgettable memory and experiences during this trip.
Although Izushi is less popular among foreign tourist, it is famous among Japanese people as the “Little Kyoto” with its old architectures and township. The township is built and restored not only to serve for tourism, it also an important place to support the daily activities of the local. As most of tourist attractions are located within walking distances, it will be a wonderful experiences wandering around the town and observe the daily life of the local. The landmark of the castle town is Shinkorou, the second oldest clock tower in Japan (according the tour guide, the oldest clock tower in Japan is located in Hokkaido with 2 months earlier than Izushi clock tower). The old castle on the hill has been restored and it is worth the short walk. We climbed toward the red gates (Torii) to the old shrine on top of the hill where you can enjoy to fantastic view overlooking the township. It is a great places for photo shooting with Kimono.
As it was the Kimono day (29 & 30 October 2016) when we visited Izushi, we could see most of the people in town including tourist were dressed in Kimono. There was Kimono rental services with a small charges near to the main event spot and we also grabbed this chances to dress in Kimono and walked around this historical town. It makes you feel like going back to the ancient time of Japan when everyone was dressing in Kimono. Everyone dressed in Kimono had the chances to participate in the lucky draw contest and the grand prize was a free 1 night accommodation with meal included in Kinosaki Onsen! Although I did not won the grand prize to Kinosaki Onsen, still I am lucky enough to win a 50 0yen voucher for me purchase some souvenir from the shop. Besides lucky draw, there were also several event holding on 29 & 30 October included Kimono Beauty Contest for those people who are confident with their Kimono outlook and appearances.
We have tried the different food around the township and surprisingly it taste so delicious. As soba is a must in Izushi but eating in the restaurant is just too normal, we went to a workshop to make our own Izushi soba on the second day. Unlike the soba in other parts of Japan, Izushi Soba are served in few small plates with raw egg recommended to mix in the soup to enjoy the real Izushi Soba. I think my team did a great job in preparing the soba from the wheat and it taste so good!
Besides experiencing making our own soba, we also went to Zen mediation early in the morning in Sukyo-ji temple. Sukyo-ji has an exceptional traditional Zen garden and it make you feel so peaceful during the Zen mediatation while listening to the song from the nature. Not to forget the Izushi-yaki pottery painting class which my first experiences to draw my own Japanese Tea Cup. We have the left our tea cup at the workshop for further process and I can’t wait to get my own cup even it might not looks so nice.
It was a trip full of wonderful new experiences – Kimono, Zen meditation, Soba Making, and Izushi-yaki pottery painting and nice historical town. It is really worth to pay a visit to this peaceful place to experiences a real Japan with lesser crowd and tourists.
By express from Osaka area about 2 hours and 30 minutes;
Take JR Fukuchiyama Line in the “Express stork” and get off “Toyooka”, “Ebara”, or “Yoka” station. 30 minutes bus ride Zentan Bus bound for Izushi.
For more information, click the link below:
Izushi Tourism Association : 出石観光協会