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Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Izushi – A Castle Town that Retains the Past Eras’ Remnants

Izushi (出石) is a quaint town in Toyooka City where you can find traces of Japanese history dating back to the Edo period (1603 – 1867). Although it might not seem like it now, the castle town used to be incredibly prosperous. This prosperity earned it the title of Tajima Province’s Little Kyoto! Because the town sits away from the train lines, little changes were made to its appearance. Thus, Izushi was selected as an important traditional buildings preservation district.

Aside from the Japanese-style buildings, there are also buildings employing Western-style architecture, such as the Izushi Meijikan, which was the former county office of the town.

Izushi is also quite compact. As such, the attractions listed below will only require approximately 2 to 3 hours to fully explore. It is a great place to immerse in Japanese culture and Tajima Province’s history if you have limited time.

HERE is a map of Izushi Town that you can refer to.

Tip: You can rent an EV Car to tour around Izushi. To make a booking, refer to HERE!

How to Get to Izushi

From JR Toyooka Station (豊岡駅), take the Zentan Bus (全但バス) bound for Izushi (出石行き) and get off at Izushi (出石). This bus trip will take around 30 minutes.

Note that the number of services is limited, with only one service every hour.

If you are also visiting Kinosaki Onsen, there might also be direct bus services that will take you straight to Izushi instead of changing buses/trains at JR Toyooka Station. When you get there, you can check with the tourist information center at the onsen town. If there is no direct bus operating on the day you intend to depart for Izushi from Kinosaki Onsen, you can always take a train to Toyooka Station and change for the bus.

The Sightseeing Bus: Tajimawaru Premium-gō(たじまわるプレミアム号)

There are also sightseeing buses departing from JR Kinosaki Onsen Station (城崎温泉駅) at 9:25 am on weekends and public holidays. Note that the stops of the below buses differ slightly. You can also board the bus at JR Toyooka Station (豊岡駅). The bus stop is at the station’s east exit.

  • Tajimawaru Premium-gō (たじまわるプレミアム号) from April to October 2023 and March 2024
  • Tajimawaru Premium Aki-gō (たじまわるプレミアム秋号) in November 2023
  • Tajimawaru Premium Fuyu-gō (たじまわるプレミアム冬号) from December 2023 to February 2024
  • For more information, you can translate THIS PAGE with Google Chrome’s translation function on the right of the address bar.
  • It is a one-day tour, so the bus will also drop by a few other nearby attractions.
  • Please note it is a Japanese-language tour.
  • The tour/bus fare is 500 yen. The guide on the bus will collect it from all customers after the bus leaves JR Toyooka Station.

Tip: If you plan to take the first train to Toyooka/Kinosaki Onsen and want to board the sightseeing bus, you can leave your luggage in the bus’s trunk.

Note that the tour is conducted in Japanese. It is best if you can understand basic Japanese to board Tajimawaru so at least you know when the bus departs for the next attraction. While the guide will take headcounts on the day, the bus won’t wait for you if you are late.

Izushi Castle Ruins (出石城跡)

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Izushi Castle was the base of the Izushi Domain in the Edo period (1603 – 1867) after it was completed in 1604 at the foot of Mt. Ariko (有子山). Although the castle wasn’t chosen to be one of the Top 100 Japanese Castles back in 2006 by the Japanese Castle Foundation (日本城郭協会), because of its historical and cultural value, it was chosen to be one of the Continued Top 100 Japanese Castles (続日本100名城)!

For more information, refer to our Izushi Castle Ruins article!

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Izushi.

Izushi Karoh Yashiki (出石家老屋敷)

As the residence of the Izushi domain’s lord has been destroyed, why not check out his chief retainer’s home instead?

© 豊岡市

Just minutes away from Izushi Castle Ruins, this traditional house built in the late Edo period is now a museum that exhibits many of the objects used when the lord paraded through the town.

Apart from the spears and other weapons, the most exciting exhibit is probably the wax figure of the Chief Retainer. It just looks no different from a real samurai sitting there. One might even find themselves trying to strike up a conversation with the wax figure!

While the museum might seem to be a one-storied house, it actually has a second level. Connected by a hidden staircase, the house is well-prepared for any attacks that could have taken place back in the not-so-peaceful era.

If you are quite tall, you will need to bend down a bit once you get to that hidden second floor. The low ceiling is another preventative measure to keep the enemies from freely swinging their swords.

Tip: If you are interested in seeing over 120 samurai parading through the town with their spears in hand, don’t miss out on the Izushi Castle Festival (出石お城まつり), which takes place on the 3rd of November each year! Many of the things that are used during the parade are actually from this museum’s exhibition room!

Izushi Karoh Yashiki’s Opening Hours, Admission Fees, and Access Information

  • The museum is open from 9:30 am to 5 pm daily except the 3rd of November, the 31st of December, and the 1st of January.
    • Final admission is at 4:30 pm.
  • The admission fees are
    • 200 for adults
    • 120 yen for senior high school and university students
    • Free otherwise

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Izushi.

Shinkorō Clock Tower (辰鼓楼)

© 豊岡市

The clock tower standing out from the streets of Izushi is called Shinkorō. The base of the clock tower used to be the base of the turret of Izushi Castle’s third-quarter (三の丸).

After the Edo period, in 1871, the clock tower’s predecessor was built as a facility to sound the Taiko drum to inform the locals of the time.

10 years later, the tower was transformed into its current appearance after a Netherland-made mechanical clock was donated to the town by a doctor practicing Western medicine. The clock is this doctor – Ikeguchi Tadashi’s (池口 忠恕) way to show his appreciation for the kindness of the locals while he was seriously ill.

Shinkorō used to be thought of as the oldest clock tower in Japan. But after an investigation completed by the professionals in June 2021, it turned out that the clock only started operating on the 8th of September 1881, which is later than the clock tower in Sapporo.

The current clock is the third generation.

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Izushi.

Izushi Soba (出石そば)

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When speaking of Izushi, the town is probably most famous for its Izushi Soba. With around 40 soba restaurants in the small town, there is no doubt that soba noodles are one of the town’s biggest selling points. Unlike elsewhere in Japan, where you are served with one bowl or plate of noodles, in Izushi, the noodles are divided into five small plates, each containing two to three mouthfuls of soba. This is so you may enjoy the noodles in five different ways!

For more information about Izushi Soba, including our recommended restaurant, refer to our article on Soba Honjin Tsuruya!

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Izushi.

Izushi Eirakukan (出石永楽館)

Izushi Eirakukan is another spot in Izushi that you may want to visit. The theater, built in 1901, has since entertained its audiences with traditional performing arts such as Kabuki and Rakugo.

Eirakukan was once closed when television and movie theaters became more common. But after a major renovation, it is now the oldest and the most traditional stage theater in the Kansai region.

© 豊岡市

On days when no shows are scheduled, you can pay your way in to discover what a traditional Japanese theater looks like.

In the theater, the wooden dividers between the seats are for the hawkers (who sell snacks and drinks) to walk on during breaks. The wider wooden platforms surrounding the seats are extensions of the stage for the performers to walk on to entertain the guests even more.

And if you look up, there are numerous old-fashioned advertisements of the shops and restaurants that may or may not exist now.

© 豊岡市

Also, don’t forget to take a closer look at the stage. It is your chance to see a rotating stage up close!

If you go underneath the round rotating stage, you can see how much human effort was required back then to turn that gigantic round stage!

© 豊岡市

Tip: You can have a Kimono Photoshoot Session at Eirakukan. To reserve, refer to HERE!

Izushi Eirakukan’s Opening Hours, Admission Fees, and Access Information

  • The theatre is open from 9:30 am to 5 pm daily except Thursdays and the 31st of December and the 1st of January.
    • The last admission is at 4:30 pm.
  • For the days when you can explore the interior of the theatre, please refer to their calendar HERE. Visit the theatre on the days that aren’t colored.
  • The admission fees are
    • 400 yen for adults
    • 240 yen for senior high school and university students
    • Free otherwise

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Izushi.

Izushi Shiryō-kan (出石史料館)

For Japanese history buffs and those interested in the interior of the mansion of a wealthy merchant in the Meiji period (1868 – 1912), you may be interested in Izushi Shiryō-kan (now Izushi’s museum).

The exhibition in the museum focuses on historical materials related to the Izushi Domain, including old hand-drawn maps, armor, and swords used by the samurai. You will also find artifacts excavated from Causuyama Tumulus that helped paint a picture of what life was like in ancient Japan.

© 豊岡市

Other than the exhibition areas, feel free to walk around this old house to examine the Japanese architecture in detail. From time to time, special exhibitions may be on to celebrate certain Japanese festivals. For example, around Doll’s Day in March, Hina Dolls that were passed down generations is one of the exhibitions that attract many visitors to this relatively quiet spot in Izushi.

Izushi Shiryō-kan’s Opening Hours, Admission Fees, and Access Information

  • The museum’s opening hours are from 9:30 am to 5 pm daily except Tuesdays and from the 28th of December to the 4th of January.
  • The last admission is at 4:30 pm
  • The admission fees are
    • 300 for adults
    • 180 yen for senior high school and university students
    • Free otherwise

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Izushi.

Sukyōji Temple (宗鏡寺)

Sukyōji, also known as Takuan-dera Temple (沢庵寺), is a guardian temple of the Izushi Domain.

If you know a bit of Japanese, the temple’s nickname might sound really funny. Takuan or Takuan-zuke is a pickled radish commonly appearing as a side dish in Japanese cuisine. Apparently, the pickled radish is named after the monk who presented this kind of pickled radish to the first lord of the Tokugawa shogunate – Tokugawa Ieyasu. Loving the pickled radish received so much, Ieyasu named the radish after the monk – whose name was “Takuan”.

And what does this have to do with Sukyōji Temple? It is because Takuan was the monk who revived it in 1616 after the temple was devastated as a consequence of the Arikoyama Castle (有子山城) up in Mt. Ariko being taken down by Hashiba Hideyoshi.

Enough of the history talk. We wanted to introduce the temple to you because it is a stunning place throughout the year, especially in autumn and winter. The best photo spot is the Tsurukame no Iwa Garden (鶴亀の庭) from the main worship hall. After all, the garden was designed from the perspective of sitting and looking from the main hall!

Tip: The pickled radish loved by Tokugawa Ieyasu is sold at the temple. The pickled radish recipe remains unchanged from the Edo period. Thus, this is your opportunity to taste the recipe that this famous samurai so highly regarded.

Sukyōji Temple’s Opening Hours, Admission Fees, and Access Information

  • Sukyōji Temple is open from 9 am to 4 pm daily except for January and February, July, and August.
  • The admission fee is
    • 500 yen for high school students and above
    • 200 yen for elementary and junior high school students
  • If you are taking the Zentan bus, get off at Takuandera-guchi (沢庵寺口). The temple is then a 10-minute walk away.

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Izushi.

Discover Other Awesome Attractions in Toyooka City

Izushi isn’t the only popular attraction in Toyooka. It also has a stunning coastline and a town that is nicknamed Tajima Province’s Kyoto.

To find out more places to visit that you might be interested in, refer to our article on Toyooka City!

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Click the photo to find out more information about this beach!

Visit Kinosaki Onsen for Extraordinary Michelin Certified Sceneries

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Click the photo to find out more about the stunning Onsen Town

For those who are looking for a hot spring resort with rich historical and cultural elements that also sports many recreational activities, make sure you visit Kinosaki Onsen. The spectacular view from Mt. Daishi is the recipient of a two Michelin star rating!

For more information, please refer to our article on Kinosaki Onsen!

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