Vegetarian's Japan Guide

The Top 10 Best Places to Visit in Asago City

Asago City, right next to Kyoto Prefecture, and below Toyooka City where the famous Kinosaki Onsen is, has become extremely popular. Many people flock to Asago for the amazing view of Takeda Castle that floats in the sky. But if the Takeda Castle Ruins are the only place that you visit, then you are missing out! There is so much more on offer!

Did you know Asago City is one of the epicenters of Japan’s mining industry, with the townships here creating an abundance of wealth from precious metal mining since 1,200 years ago? (=゚ω゚)ノ

Here is a list of attractions worth your time when you visit this part of the Hyōgo Prefecture next time!

Takeda Castle Ruins (竹田城)

Its rich history got it ranked as one of the Top 100 Castles in Japan!

Takeda-Castle-Ruins-Autumn-Foliage-Asago-Hyogo-Japan
© Hyogo Tourism Bureau

As aforementioned, the most famous destination in Asago City is the Takeda Castle Ruins.

When tourists come to the Takeda Castle Ruins, they behold the astonishing scenery of the castle floating in the sky! It is a place where you can experience what it would be like to walk above the fairy floss-like cloud and for your young kids to wonder if there are creatures living in the sky (^_-)-☆.

For more information, please read our Takeda Castle Ruins article!

Takeda Castle Town Hotel EN (竹田城 城下町ホテル EN)

Staying in one of the hotels around JR Takeda Station is a great idea if you particularly yearn for the fantastic scenery of the Takeda Castle floating in the sky.

If you don’t know where to stay, how about a hotel that was renovated from a sake brewery?

Takeda Castle Town Hotel EN overlooking Takeda Castle Ruins was originally a local sake brewery run by the Kimura family. The ancestor of the family was actually the vassal of Takeda Shingen (武田 信玄), a famous warlord in the Sengoku period (1467-1615)!

After the destruction of the Takeda clan, the family that changed its last name to Iio (飯尾) moved to Takeda Castle town in 1625. In 1902, after undergoing two fire hazards, the building we see today was built.

In 2013, the family changed its business from sake to hotel management. Instead of knocking the whole brewery down and building a brand new modern hotel, only minor renovations were done, so the hotel guests get a vibe of the locals’ lifestyle 100 years ago.

That is why no single room in Takeda Castle Town Hotel EN is the same. After all, each of the rooms originally had a different function!

Also, you might run into some animals during your stay in Takeda Castle Town Hotel EN. The hotel is pet friendly, so if you are an animal lover like us, there is a high chance that you will get to play with someone else’s pet during your stay (≧▽≦).

Things to Note Before You Book Your Stay with Takeda Castle Town Hotel EN

One thing to note: there is no TV or modern entertainment in their hotel rooms. The aim is to help guests really indulge themselves in the country lifestyle to recharge. However, you can still use your phone, which will surely keep you entertained with their free WIFI (^_-)-☆.

Lastly, it is an old building. So please don’t expect perfect soundproofing.

If you are tempted to spend a night at Takeda Castle Town Hotel EN, make a reservation HERE!

Tip: Let the hotel know in advance what you can’t eat for them to do their best to accommodate you.

How to Get to Takeda Castle Town Hotel EN

From JR Takeda Station (竹田駅), it is a 3-minute walk to the hotel’s reception.

One unique thing about the hotel is not all its facilities are in the same building. It is a short walk from the rooms to the restaurant. You will get to enjoy the vibe of the old township!

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Asago City.

Township Ikanochō Kuchiganaya (生野町口銀谷)

If you are waiting for the bus to get to Ikuno Silver Mine (the next attraction below), we recommend you walk around the township close to JR Ikuno Station (生野駅). You will find traces of prosperity due to the mining industry in this town!

Below are some of the places that you can pay attention to (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Bike Rental from Asago City Tourist Information Center (朝来市観光情報センター)

At JR Ikuno Station’s west exit, you can rent a bicycle from the Asago City Tourist Information Center from 9:50 am to 4 pm between March to November. Please bring along your ID and remember to return the bike by 4:40 pm.

The below cost is for a one-day rental.

  • Normal bike: 500 yen
  • Electric-assisted bike: 1,000 yen

Kusaka Ryokan (日下旅館)

The first thing you will see once you get out of JR Ikuno Station from the east exit is the three-story Kusaka Ryokan.

A three-story building might sound like nothing now. Still, when the ryokan was expanded to the three-story building that we see now, there were only another two buildings along the Bantan Trainline (播但線) that stretches from Kinosaki (城崎) to Himeji (姫路)!

© あさぶら

If you pay attention to the wall around the windows, you can see that some openings can’t be closed off. You might find it strange because luxurious ryokans like Kusaka should be trying their best to keep the guests nice and warm, not opening some holes on the wall to let the coldness come in.

The funny thing is that those holes keep the guests alive!

In the past, the charcoal fire was used for heating and hot pot cooking. So ventilation holes were indispensable to prevent those inside the buildings from getting carbon monoxide poisoning. At Kusaka Ryokan, these openings are of shapes such as cranes or clouds.

The Building Material Special to Mining Town – Karami Stone

© あさぶら

As you walk around Kuchiginaya, you might notice that the architectural stones here are blacker than usual. And they seem to have a reddish color among the blackness as well.

In the process of extracting metal from the ore, rocks that are lighter in density will float above. These otherwise useless rocks were compressed and hardened into these Karami Stones (カラミ石), which can be used as building materials.

The Karami Stones that are cheap to get in a mining town like Ikuno are used for the walls and foundations of houses, wells, and waterways. The unique luster and texture are characteristic of the townscape in Kuchiginaya.

The Old Train Track along the Ichi River

Along the Ichi River (市川), there is an abandoned train track that used to connect Ikuno Silver Mine to JR Ikuno Station from 1920 to the late 20th century is now a promenade that forms part of the representative landscape of the Kuchiginaya district.

There are also many other small attractions within a 30-minute walk from JR Ikuno Station. For more information, please refer to the map on the official website HERE.

© あさぶら

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Asago City.

Ikuno Silver Mine (生野銀山)

© あさぶら

The Ikuno Silver Mine (生野銀山) in the south of Asago City is one of the best mines in Japan that was mined for more than 400 years. The mine that was closed in 1972 after it suffered from the deterioration of ore quality is now maintained as one of the city’s major attractions for people to discover the mining tunnels and quarries. You will also find out how the industry has evolved in Japan!

For more information, please refer to our article on Ikuno Silver Mine.

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Asago City.

Ginzan Lake (銀山湖)

Created in 1972, Ginzan Lake is an artificial lake of Ikuno Dam’s dam lake. The lake filled with the clear stream from the Ichi River is just stunning throughout the year!

On top of strolling around the lake, you can also rent out a boat where you can adore the scenery from a different angle (*´ω`).

Boats can be rented out from 1,000 yen between 6 am and 4 pm at the rental shop.

How to Get to Ginzan Lake

  • From JR Ikuno Station (生野駅),
    • It is around a 10 to 15-minute drive
    • On weekdays, you can also take Shinki Green Bus’s (神姫グリーンバス) Kurokawa Line (黒川線) and get off at Kirakuen (喜楽苑)
      • Regarding the timetable, please refer to the last table on pages 26 and 27 of the pdf HERE
      • It will be another 30-minute walk from the bus stop to the lake
    • On weekends and public holidays, get off at Ginzanko (銀山湖)

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Asago City.

Tataragi Dam (多々良木ダム) and Asago Fine Arts of Mori Art Museum (あさご芸術の森美術館)

If you yearn to see stunning cherry blossoms, head to Tataragi Dam. The cherry trees are just directly below the dam around the Asago Fine Arts of Mori Art Museum. Enjoy, and admire the flowers, as well as the amazing dam lake (=゚ω゚)ノ.

The cherry blossom season around the dam is from late March to early April.

Just underneath the cherry trees, a collection of statues inspired by the Last Supper sit in front of the art museum. Quite interesting indeed!

© あさぶら

How to Get to Tataragi Dam and Asago Fine Arts of Mori Art Museum

  • From JR Nii Station (新井駅), it is around a 10-minute drive.
  • The museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm daily except Wednesdays and the next business day after a public holiday, as well as from the 25th of December to the 5th of January
    • The last admission is at 4:30 pm. It is closed on Wednesdays
  • The admission cost is
    • 500 yen for adults
    • 200 yen for elementary and junior high school students

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Asago City.

Kurokawa Onsen (兵庫の秘湯 黒川温泉) and Kurokawa Dam (黒川ダム)

Kurokawa Onsen in Asago City is a small day trip hot spring facility buried in the deep mountain beyond Ikuno Silver Mine. With the Kurokawa Dam situated just next to the facility, you will get a nice view of the dam lake from the male onsen pool.

There is also a small restaurant, but the only vegetarian dish you can order is the Takana Rice Ball. Other dishes, such as Kitsune udon have seafood extract in their broth.

Another matter to note is parts of the road leading to the Kurokawa Onsen are extremely narrow, making it impossible for two cars to pass through at the same time. We recommend coming from the Ikuno side because of the fewer number of slopes that you have to drive through, despite the increased number of curves.

Driving from the Ikuno side, although it takes slightly longer, the exquisite scenery makes up for it.

Important:
☛ Kurokawa Onsen politely asks those with tattoos to refrain from using the facility.
☛ There are no private onsen pools at Kurokawa Onsen

After enjoying the onsen that is said to make your skin as smooth as porcelain, stroll around the beautiful Kurobe Dam.

© あさぶら

An observation deck also bestows a panoramic view of the stunning lake!

Kurokawa Onsen’s Business Hours, Fees, and Access Information

  • Kurokawa Onsen’s Opening Hours:
    • May, June, September, and October: from 11 am to 7 pm on weekdays with hours extending to 8 pm on weekends, and public holidays
      • The last admission is at 6:30 pm on weekdays and at 7 pm otherwise
    • July and August: from 11 am to 8 pm
      • The last admission is at 7 pm
    • November to April: 11 am to 7 pm
      • The last admission is at 6:30 pm
    • It is closed on Wednesdays unless it is a public holiday
  • Restaurant’s Opening Hours:
    • Weekdays: 11 am to 3 pm
    • Weekends and public holidays: 11 am to 4 pm
  • The cost of the onsen pools at Kurokawa Onsen is
    • 650 yen for adults
    • 300 yen for elementary school students
    • 100 yen for younger children

From JR Ikuno Station, it is around a 30-minute drive.

  • On Tuesdays and Fridays, you can reserve Ako Bus’s (アコバス) Kurokawa Line (黒川コース) and get off at Daimyoji-bashi (大明寺橋)
    • To reserve, please call +81-790-32-1050 the day before. If you don’t speak Japanese, don’t worry, as some of the station staff or hotel staff can possibly interpret
    • Regarding the timetable, please refer to the table at the bottom of page 13 of the pdf HERE. As it is an abbreviated timetable, please use the arrival time at Kurokawa (黒川) as a reference. Daimyoji-bashi is just one stop before Kurokawa
  • On weekends and public holidays, there is only bus one service a day. Instead of the Ako Bus, you will need to take Shinki Green Bus’s (神姫グリーンバス) Kurokawa Line (黒川線) and get off at Daimyoji-bashi (大明寺橋)
    • Please refer to the last table on pages 26 and 27 of the timetable’s pdf HERE

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Asago City.

Aokura Shrine (青倉神社)

Aokura Shrine is situated on the hillside of Mt. Aokura (青倉山). The 12-meter high rock with a two-story shrine built over is treated as an object of worship. On the first floor of the worship hall, you can worship the megalithic statue. If you check out the giant rock from the side, it will look like a human’s head (≧▽≦).

So what will you be praying for here? It is going to be for your eyes! The god that is enshrined here is looking after our eyes. Climbing the stairs on the right of the worship hall, a mountain spring should be flowing out from the crack of the rock above you.

The sacred water is said to be effective for curing eye diseases. So most worshipers bring bottles with them to take some of the water back home and spray on their eyes each day (with eyes closed, of course).

© あさぶら

To make life easier for worshipers, faucets are now set up below the spring source (refer to the second last photo of the Instagram post)!

Located at an altitude of 650 meters, Aokura Shrine is also a great spot for a wide view of the surrounding nature. In autumn, you can adore the vivid autumn color here!

How to Get to Aokura Shrine

There are no bus services that stop near the shrine. So you have to either drive or get a taxi.

  • From JR Nii Station (新井駅), it is around a 30-minute drive
  • From Tataragi Dam (たたらぎダム), it is also a 30-minute drive

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Asago City.

Shirai Ōmachi Fuji Park (白井大町藤公園)

© photo-ac.com

In spring, one of the best places to go is Shirai Ōmachi Fuji Park, because of the magnificent wisteria scenery.

The wisterias in the park were the work of local volunteers who grafted 150 wisteria saplings to the wisteria scion gifted by Wake Town of Okayama Prefecture.

After opening in 1999, the park is now a famous destination for wisteria in the San’in region.

The wisteria pergolas there now have a total length of 500 meters!

The wisteria flower cluster, which can reach up to 1.45 meters, has flowers in different colors. Together with the breeze, the waves created by the wisteria flowers are just wonderful to see (*´ω`).

Just before the arrival of wisteria’s season, the narcissus on the park’s slope will enchant the visitors first from early April! And from late April to mid-May, the park will be filled with the elegant scent of wisteria flowers. If you stay close to the pergola for long enough, you will walk away with a magical aroma (≧▽≦).

In early May, there will also be Koi fish flags floating above the pond. The view of the flags plus their reflections underneath is another view in the park that receives a lot of attention from visitors.

Tips:
☛ Arrive early especially if you are visiting the park on weekends and public holidays
☛ We will update the article with shuttle bus information when it becomes available for the 2022 season

Shirai Ōmachi Fuji Park’s Opening Hours, Admission Fees, and Access Information

  • The park is open from 9 am to 6 pm
    • The last admission is at 5:30 pm
  • The admission fee is 500 yen for middle school students and above
  • From JR Wadayama Station (和田山駅), take Zentan Bus’s (全但バス) Shirai Hospital Line (白井病院線) and get off at Shirai (白井)
    • It is around a 20-minute walk from the bus stop to the park
    • Please refer to page 22 of the pdf HERE for the timetable

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Asago City.

Mikobata Ore Processing Site Ruins (神子畑選鉱場跡)

© photo-ac.com

Besides the Ikuno Silver Mine, another mining-related attrition in Asago City is the Mikobata Concentrator Ruins (神子畑選鉱場跡), located in the mountains west of the Ikuno Silver Mine. Because the concentrator on the site operated 24/7 between 1919 to 1987, the site that is reminiscent of a fortress was nicknamed “Nightless Castle”!

For more information, please refer to our Mikobata Ore Processing Site Ruins (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Asago City.

Oriental Paper Bush Colony (みつまた群生地)

From mid to late March, the huge colony of Oriental paper bush that is just around a 10-minute walk away from the Mikobata Cast Iron Bridge will be blooming!

You may not have heard of this type of plant before (we haven’t either up until now), but they are just gorgeous to see when they blossom together! The flowers of Oriental Paper Bush don’t just form a golden carpet if seen from afar. When you get close to them, you will fall in love with their sweet scent that helps you relax!

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Asago City.

Visit Kinosaki Onsen for the Stunning Michelin Certified Scenery

Kinosaki-Onsen-Toronagashi-Tooyoka-Hyogo-Japan
Click the photo to find out more about Kinosaki Onsen!

Kinosaki Onsen (城崎温泉), only a couple of stations away from Asago City, is one of the most popular destinations in northern Hyōgo Prefecture among tourists both from Japan and overseas. It won’t be hard to understand the reason at all once you see the two-star Michelin-rated scenery from Mt. Daishi (大師山)! In addition, the town that has prospered for more than 1,300 years is filled with historical and cultural charms!

The most amazing part about the onsen town is that it offers many vegetarian-friendly accommodations and dining options!

For more information about what to do and where to go, please read our Kinosaki Onsen article!

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