Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Yabu – The City in Hyōgo that is Full of Natural Wonders

If you are looking for off-the-beaten-path destinations in the Kansai region, head to Yabu City in Hyōgo Prefecture. The city is perfect for outdoor recreation activities. It also has some amazing scenery that will captivate you any time of the year!

A List of Attractions in Yabu City

Yabu City Sightseeing Taxi (養父市 定額観光タクシー)

As a city in a rural area, some of the attractions below are harder to get to by public transport. So if you want to get there quickly, consider renting a car. If you don’t want to drive, hop into a sightseeing taxi instead!

What is great about the sightseeing taxi is its flexibility. Furthermore, you won’t be charged for the distance traveled. Instead, you pay by the hour.

For a 5-seater taxi, It starts with a minimum of 2 hours and a maximum of 6. It currently costs 2,500 yen per hour. Going beyond 6 hours is not recommended, as you will then be charged by distance traveled.

Reservation is required at least 5 days in advance by emailing [email protected]. You can also book by calling them if you speak Japanese.

For more information, please refer to the bottom of the official access page HERE.

Yabu Shrine (養父神社)

One of the most popular autumn foliage destinations in Yabu City is Yabu Shrine. The shrine that was built in 737 is one of the top five shrines in Tajima Province (但馬).

The gods of Yabu Shrine are looking after agricultural and sericultural activities. This is why on top of the stone lion-dog statues – komainu (狛犬) that are common in Japanese shrines, there are also statues of wolves as the shrine’s guarding animals.

© やぶ市観光協会

Why wolves? It is because they hunt animals that are likely to ruin paddy and/or vegetable fields, such as wild boars and deer.

© やぶ市観光協会

From late October, the color of the maple leaves starts to change. The autumn foliage season usually peaks from early to mid-November each year. It is also when the Yabu Momiji Festival (やぶ紅葉まつり) is held.

In 2021, the festival was held from the 6th to the 23rd of November. Nighttime illumination is from sunset to 8 pm if it isn’t raining.

You can also refer to the official website HERE for future festival dates. Utilize Google Chrome’s translation function at the right of the address bar to tranlsate the webpage to English.

Tip: The best spot to adore the autumn foliage at Yabu Shrine is probably from the shrine’s car park, underneath the red bridge of the shrine. The view is astonishing!

Yabu Shrine’s Admission Fee and Access Information

From JR Yabu Station (養父駅), take the Zentan Bus (全但バス), and get off at Yabu Myōjin (養父明神).

  • Yamaguchi Ikuno Line (山口生野線)
  • Yōka Takinoya Line (八鹿建屋本線)
  • Yōka Wadayama Line (八鹿和田山線)

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Yabu City.

Togayama Onsen Tennyo no Yu (とがやま温泉 天女の湯)

© やぶ市観光協会

The onsen facility, not too far away from most of the attractions in Yabu City, is open until 9 pm.

Relaxing in the onsen pool after a day of exploration is pure bliss.

They also have a private bath you can reserve in advance. Bookings must be made by the day before your visit. Call them at +81-79-665-6677.

Togayama Onsen Tennyo no Yu’s Business Hours, Admission Fees, and Access Information

  • Business hours are from 10 am to 9 pm daily except Thursdays unless it is a public holiday
    • The last admission is at 20:15 pm
  • The admission fee is
    • 700 yen for adults
    • 400 yen for children from 3 years old to elementary school students
    • 1,000 yen per 60 minutes for a private bath
  • From JR Yōka Station (八鹿駅), you can also take a bus and get off at Togayama Onsen (とがやま温泉)

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Yabu City.

Firefly Village – Hotaru no Sato (ほたるの里)

Besides the hot weather and typhoons, summer in Japan isn’t all that bad, especially with the fireflies dancing around in June.

In Yabu City, the best place to see these little dancers is Hotaru no Sato. Although it can be difficult to travel there by public transport, when the weather is good, it is definitely worth the effort!

While the fireflies won’t be active before sunset, we still recommend getting there a bit earlier to the fireflies’ decorations on the road to the river, where the fireflies inhabit!

If you are heading there on a Saturday, Firefly Festival or Hotaru Matsuri (ほたる祭り) is probably on. This means you probably won’t be able to park at the venue between 8 and 9 pm.

But don’t worry, fireflies should still be out after 9 pm for those who can’t get to the Firefly Village earlier (^_-)-☆.

How to Get to Hotaru no Sato

From the closest train station, no bus services stop at the nearest bus stop – Okumeiji (奥米地). So if you aren’t driving, please take a taxi from JR Wadayama Station (和田山駅). It is around a 20-minute drive.

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Yabu City.

Tarumi no Ōzakura (樽見の大桜)

If you are coming to Yabu City in spring, and are looking for cherry blossoms, don’t miss out on Tarumi no Ōzakura! This cherry tree rumored to be around 1,000 years old has a height of 13.8 meters, and a trunk circumference of about 6.3 meters Σ(゚Д゚).

© やぶ市観光協会

This National Natural Monument is currently the biggest weeping cherry tree in Hyōgo Prefecture. Considering it lived longer than the average lifespan of cherry trees, there was noticeable withering on the trunk and branches in 1967. The Tarumi Ōsakura Preservation Society was consequently established in 1973. A lot of work has been put into restoring the tree’s health.

Thanks to the preservation society and local volunteers, Tarumi no Ōzakura is currently in good condition producing many flowers and leaves that cover the entire tree. In addition, little cherry blossoms grow from the fruits of Tarumi no Ōzakura are around as well!

Traveling to Tarumi no Ōzakura isn’t all that easy, though. From the car park, you have got to hike up for around 400 meters. Taking breaks into account, it will probably take about 20 to 30 minutes. The parking lot can only hold around 20 cars. So on weekends, you might need to park further away, which will add to the hiking time. However, cherry trees bloom along the trail, so you can hike and adore the flowers at the same time (^_-)-☆.

Before reaching the car park, you will have to drive through a narrow road about 2 kilometers long.

When Will Tarumi no Ōzakura Bloom

Tarumi no Ōzakura usually blossoms from early to mid-April each year.

Tip: Tarumi no Ōzakura is on the northwestern slope. So it will be in the shade in the early morning. Depending on what sort of lighting you like, it might be better to come from the late morning onward.

How to Get to Tarumi no Ōzakura by Public Transport

  • From JR Yōka Station (八鹿駅), take Zentan Bus (全但バス) bound for Akenobe (明延) and get off at Nakamura-shita (中村下). From there to the car park, it is a 30-minute walk
    • The bus trip is around 50 minutes
    • HERE is the timetable for buses departing from JR Yōka Station
    • HERE is the timetable for buses departing for JR Yōka Station

You can use Google Chrome to translate the timetable above.

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Yabu City.

Tendaki Falls (天滝)

Tendaki Falls in Yabu City, with a height of 98 meters, is the best waterfall in Hyōgo Prefecture and one of Japan’s Top 100 Waterfalls! If you are coming to Japan to enjoy stunning nature, this waterfall, surrounded by rich nature, is a perfect choice. One thing to note is that due to heavy snow in the area, Tendaki Falls isn’t accessible in winter.

© kobe.travel.coocan.jp

From the trailhead (left photo) to Tendaki Falls, it is around a 30 to 50-minute hike. If you are driving, there is a car park with a capacity of 15 cars at the trailhead. On weekends and public holidays, the car park will probably be full from late morning.

The second closest car park is at the Resthouse Tendaki (レストハウス天滝) with double the capacity of the one at the trailhead.

If you are taking a bus, the bus stop – Tendakiguchi (天滝口) is around a 10-minute walk from the resthouse.

On the way to Tendaki Falls, a couple of small yet gorgeous waterfalls are the entrees to the main dish – Tendaki Falls.

The trail along the river flowing in Tendaki Valley (天滝渓谷) (right photo) is quite narrow, so trek carefully, as you won’t want to fall in the river.

© kobe.travel.coocan.jp

Among numerous waterfalls in Tendaki Valley, seven waterfalls were named due to their unique shapes.

The Meotodaki Falls (夫婦滝) is one of them.

If the signboards weren’t taken away as souvenirs by one of the previous hikers, then they will be there for you as a reminder to pay attention to the waterfall close by (^_-)-☆.

The Best Spots to Adore Tendaki Falls and the Area’s Fall Foliage Season

To get a similar view of Tendaki Falls (like the photo to the right), you will need to climb a set of stairs leading to the observatory. You can get even closer to the waterfall by venturing your way out from the observatory. Remember to be careful!

It goes without saying, Tendaki Falls receives the most visitors during the autumn foliage season. Along the Tendaki Valley, the color usually peaks from early to mid-November. Around the trailhead, it starts a bit later from around mid-November.

The promenade doesn’t just stop at Tendaki Falls. You can trek to Tawara-ishi Rock (俵石), and then all the way to Sugigasawa Plateau (杉ヶ沢高原) for a great view of Mt Hyōno (氷ノ山), and the surrounding magnificent nature.

© photo-ac.com

Tawara-ishi Rock (俵石)

If you choose to trek to Tawara-ishi Rock from Tendaki Falls, it is an 800-meter hike through steep slopes.

The shape of the basalt here was formed more than 2.4 million years ago. Named Tawara-ishi, it looks like bales that are neatly stacked.

As Tawara-ishi isn’t marked on Google Map, HERE is a visual map of where the attractions are located.

What to Bring and What to Watch out for

  • Trekking shoes
  • Hiking poles
  • Long pants are essential because of leeches

How to Get to Tendaki Falls by Public Transport

  • From JR Yōka Station (八鹿駅), take the Zantan Bus (全但バス), and get off at Ōya (大屋). From there, change to the bus bound for Wakasugi (若杉), and get off at Tendakiguchi (天滝口)
  • In November, on weekends and public holidays, there are also sightseeing buses called Tajimawaru Tendaki Momiji-gō (たじまわる天滝もみじ号) departing from JR Wadayama Station (和田山駅) at 10:40 am
    • 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 attractions close by
    • Please note it is a Japanese-language tour
    • Tour/bus fare is 500 yen payable when you board the bus

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Yabu City.

Mt. Hyōno (氷ノ山)

© photo-ac.com

Mt. Hyōno, with a height of 1,510 meters, is the highest mountain in Hyōgo Prefecture. The mountain that is blessed with an excellent natural environment was chosen as one of Japan’s 200 most famous mountains. The area is decorated with rare plants and animals, such as the National Natural Monument Golden Eagle.

The Torokawa Valley (瀞川渓谷) on the western foot of Mt. Hyōno is also one of the 100 Hidden Scenic Spots in the country.

Apart from the stunning seasonal scenery, Mt. Hyono, also known as Mt. Sugano (須賀ノ山), is also famous for its reflection in the rice terraces before rice planting (逆さ氷ノ山). This attracts many professional photographers in early May.

Hiking in Mt. Hyōno

With a height only second to the Daisen or Mt. Dai (大山) in the Chūgoku region (中国地方), Mt. Hyōno is a popular hiking destination in Kansai.

Mt. Dai has an altitude of 1,712 meters.

There are a couple of mountain trails to choose from. Some are accessible from Tottori Prefecture (as the mountain is at the border of Yabu City in Hyōgo Prefecture and Wakasa Town (若桜町) in Tottori Prefecture).

The hiking season at Mt. Hyōno is usually from mid-May to mid-November when the trails aren’t covered by snow. From December to April, you will need alpine and ice climbing gear if you are keen on hiking in the snow.

Tip: There is no shade close to the summit. Please be careful of a heat stroke on a hot sunny day.

© photo-ac.com

Important: Trekking shoes and hiking poles are highly recommended as most parts of the trail are earthen roads, which can be slippery and harder to walk on. Long pants are also recommended to protect your legs from bug bites.

Hyōnoyama-goe Course (氷ノ山越え コース)

Here, we will introduce the Hyōnoyama-goe Course (氷ノ山越えコース), which is suitable for all age groups and consists of numerous scenic spots along the way. At the summit, when the weather is good, you can see Mt. Dai (大山) and even the Sea of ​​Japan!

Hyōnosen Hachifuse-guchi Bus Stop (氷ノ山鉢伏口) → 20 minutes → Trailhead (登山口) at Fukusada Water Park (福定親水公園) → 45 minutes → Nunotaki Falls (布滝), Fudō Falls (不動滝), Jizōdō (地蔵堂), Kōbōnomizu (弘法の水) → 75 minutes → Hyōnosanetsu (氷ノ山越 ) → 80 minutes → Mt. Hyōno Summit (氷ノ山山頂) → 100 minutes → Higshione Evacuation Hat (東尾根避難小屋) → 45 minutes → Higashione trailhead (東尾根登山口) → 20 minutes → Hyōnosen Hachifuse-guchi Bus Stop (氷ノ山鉢伏口)

© kobe.travel.coocan.jp/
  • From Hyōnosen Hachifuse-guchi Bus Stop to the trailhead at Fukusada Water Park, there are paved roads
  • Shortly after passing the trailhead, you will need to cross a river. Although there is a bridge, if the water level is high, it will be safer to enter the mountain from Higashione trailhead (東尾根登山口)
  • Soon after crossing the river, the slope will become steeper. Continue all the way to Jizōdō
  • You will then trek through a beautiful beech forest, but be careful of the roots of the trees at your feet so you won’t get tripped over
  • From the summit to Higashione Evacuation Hat, a small part of the trail is steep, but most are gentle ridge roads
  • From Higashione Evacuation Hat, you will hike through some steep slopes again, walking on wooden stairs most of the time. So, it shouldn’t be too arduous, and it is difficult to get lost!
  • Once you reach the Higashione trailhead (東尾根登山口), you will be back on paved roads to get back to Hyōnosen Hachifuse-guchi Bus Stop

HERE is a map of the hiking courses. Hyōnoyama-goe Course (氷ノ山越え コース) is marked with blue circles. Higashione trailhead (東尾根登山口) and Hyōnosen Hachifuse-guchi Bus Stop (氷ノ山鉢伏口) are also marked on the map.

Autumn Foliage Season at Mt. Hyōno

The fall color at Mt. Hyōno usually peaks from mid to late October each year. The season starts in early October when the color of nature slowly becomes more vivid.

How to Get to the Trailhead at Fukusada Water Park

From JR Yōka Station (八鹿駅), take the Hachibuse Line (鉢伏線) of the Zantan Bus (全但バス), and get off at Hyōnosen Hachifuse-guchi (氷ノ山鉢伏口). The bus trip is around 50 minutes.

  • HERE is the timetable for the services departing FROM JR Yōka Station
  • HERE is the timetable for the services departing FOR JR Yōka Station

If you are driving, you can park for free at Fukusada Water Park. Note: it has a capacity of around 30 cars. Arriving around 8:30 am might mean you will have to park your car further away at Hyōnosen Kokusai Ski Resort (氷ノ山国際スキー場).

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Yabu City.

Hyōnosen Kokusai Ski Resort (氷ノ山国際スキー場)

© やぶ市観光協会

For those who would love to ski at Mt. Hyōno (氷ノ山), one of the popular ski resorts is Hyōnosen Kokusai Ski Resort.

The 2021/2022 season starts on Christmas Day from 8:30 am to 5 pm.

For more information about the pricing and ski gear rental, please refer to their website HERE. You can translate the website by using the language drop-down menu on the top right corner. You can translate the website using the language drop-down menu in the top right corner. If you are using Google Chrome, you can change it to English by clicking on the Google Translate icon, right of the address bar.

Tips:
☛ Female guests get free entry on Wednesdays
☛ If you are coming with primary school students, one child can board the lift for free per adult if you get a one-day free lift pass

Hyōnosen Kokusai Ski Resort by Public Transport

From bus stop – Hyōnosen Hachifuse-guchi (氷ノ山鉢伏口), it is a 5-minute walk.

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Yabu City.

Bekkū Rice Terrace (別宮の棚田)

On the way to Hachi Plateau or Hachi Kōgen (ハチ高原), as you come out of the forest, amazing scenery will suddenly appear.

© やぶ市観光協会

The rice terrace on the hillside of Mt. Hachibuse (鉢伏山) is situated at an altitude of 700 meters. The 130 or so rice fields color the landscape differently in each season.

To get a full view of Mt. Hyōno, Bekkū Rice Terrace is the best observatory spot. The best time for photos is at the beginning of May, when the rice paddy is filled with water, as preparation for rice planting in early May.

The scenery is known as Sakasa Hyōnosen (逆さ氷ノ山), which simply means Mt. Hyōno upside down.

The water slowly withdraws over a few days, but it will be maintained at around the same level as per the photo. So, the reflection of Mt. Hyōno can still be seen after rice planting until early June. It just means your reflection of the mountain will have many rice seedlings growing out, which can be interesting to see, too (´▽`*).

© Hyogo Tourism Bureau

Bekkū’s Big Katsura Tree (別宮の大カツラ)

© やぶ市観光協会

Since Bekkū Rice Paddy is in a remote region, one might wonder how the farmers source so much water.

Well, the secret lies with the hug Katsura tree that is more than 1,200 years old!

Near the car park, the tree, with a height of 27 meters and branches stretching as far as 24 meters, is a Prefectural Natural Monument. Spring water flows from the tree’s root and moistens the rice terraces below.

According to the famous monk – Kūkai (空海), this Katsura tree is a sacred tree of water. No wonder the rice produced from the rice paddy here, known as Bekkū Tanada Rice (別宮棚田米), is extremely delicious (also due to the large temperature difference during the daytime and at night

How to Get to Bekkū Rice Terrace

  • If you are driving, there is a free car park with a capacity of 10 cars. It is also possible to park on the wide road shoulder
  • If you are taking public transport, please refer to the access information of Hachi Kōgen. Please get off at Bekkukami (別宮上), instead of Hachi Kōgen

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Yabu City.

Hachi Kōgen (ハチ高原)

Driving west of Bekkū Rice Terrace, the Hachi Kōgen or Hachi Plateau, situated further up on Mt. Hachibuse (鉢伏山) at an altitude between 800 to 900 meters, is one of western Japan’s leading areas for outdoor activities.

It is great for hiking, camping, and paragliding. When the plateau isn’t covered by snow, it is the ideal escape from the hustle and bustle of the city!

If you are an experienced hiker, you can march to the summit of Mt. Hyōno from the trailhead at Hachi Kōgen.

© やぶ市観光協会

In winter, the Hachi Kōgen Ski Resort (ハチ高原スキー場) is Kansai’s largest snow park.

For more information about skiing at Hachi Kōgen, please refer to the official website HERE and change the language to English using Google Chrome’s translation function to the right of the address bar.

How to Get to Hachi Kōgen by Public Transport

From JR Yōka Station (八鹿駅), take Zentan Bus’s (全但バス) Hachifuse Line (鉢伏) and get off at Deai Terminal (出合ターミナル). From there, change for Yabu City’s Community Bus – Seki no Miya Fureai Bus (関宮ふれあいバス) bound for Hachi Kōgen (ハチ高原) and get off at Hachi Kōgen.

  • HERE is the timetable for buses departing from JR Yōka Station
  • HERE is the timetable for buses departing for JR Yōka Station
  • HERE is the timetable for Seki no Miya Fureai Bus
    • This service is only operating on weekdays, excluding public holidays, and from the end of December to the beginning of January

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Yabu City.

Torokawa Valley (瀞川渓谷)

Just like Mt. Hyōn, Torokawa Valley, also in the Hyōnosen-Ushiroyama-Nagisan Quasi-National Park (氷ノ山後山那岐山国定公園) has such stunning scenery that it was chosen to be one of Japan’s Top 100 Hidden Scenic Spots!

The mountain trail in Torokawa Valley is more suitable for those more experienced in mountain trekking.

There are several places that you must cross the mountain stream with no proper bridges built (i.e. it can just be some stepping stones in the shallow river).

To reach the end goal of Torokawa Valley, the magnificent Torokawa Falls (瀞川滝), most people park around Torokawa Inari Shrine (瀞川稲荷).

From Torokawa Inari Shrine, it takes around 30 to 40 minutes to Torokawa Falls. To cut the hiking time even more, park your car closer to Sōmi no Taki Falls (双身の滝). The road is very narrow, so only one car can pass through.

Torokawa Inari Shrine (瀞川稲荷) and Sōmi no Taki Falls (双身の滝)

Although people usually go to an Inari Shrine to pray for their businesses, it wouldn’t hurt to pray for a safe hiking trip at Torokawa Inari Shrine. Probably because it is situated in rich nature, the shrine’s precinct feels more sacred compared to the shrines in big cities.

Trekking from Torokawa Inari Shrine, you should arrive at Sōmi no Taki Falls in 15 minutes. While it might not seem to be the case in the photos below, Sōmi no Taki Falls actually has a height of 10 meters, a lot taller than you and me (´▽`*). On the way, there is also a 400 years old Katsura tree that grows alone in the cedar forest.

Keen to check it out? When you see the directory sign of Sōmi no Taki Falls, please head in the opposite direction (yes, it is a bit of a detour).

The trail from Sōmi no Taki Falls to Torokawa Falls is more challenging than the first half of the trip. With limited directory signs, the 20 minutes journey can take much longer if you miss the red tapes tied on the trees. On top of that, you may find the foothold along the way unstable and/or slippery.

Along the way, you will meet the 13 stone Buddha statues that can be a good road sign as well (^_-)-☆.

Torokawa Falls (瀞川滝)

Torokawa Falls, also known as Torokawa Fudō Falls (瀞川不動滝), is in the same location as the 13th Buddha statue – Fudōmyōō (不動明王).

Looking up at the waterfall that is more than 55 meters tall, we are sure you will be glad you spent the effort to get there (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Make sure you get enough rest at Torokawa Falls because the journey back can be even more challenging! While it is easier to go downstairs, this definitely isn’t the case when hiking down Torokawa Valley.

Thanks to the moss growing on the surface of pretty much everything you walk on, it can be really hard not to slip. So be really careful and trek slowly!

HERE is a map of Torokawa Valley. It is in Japanese, so please use the Japanese characters that we have specified previously to read.

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Yabu City.

Akenobe Mine (明延鉱山)

© Hyogo Tourism Bureau

If you have ever wondered where the copper of the Great Buddha at Tōdaiji Temple in Nara was from, then you must visit Akenobe Mine, discovered in 809!

For more information, please refer to our article on Akenobe Mine!

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Yabu City.

Making a Side Tour for the Castle in the Sky

The Takeda Castle in the Asago City next to Yabu City is known as one of Japan’s Three Castles in the Sky. If you haven’t had enough spectacular scenery, how about heading to the castle after visiting Yabu City?

For more information about the amazing scenery, please refer to our article on Takeda Castle!

Takeda-Castle-Ruins-Sea-of-Clouds-Asago-Hyogo-Japan-
Click the photo to find out more about where you can see this astonishing scenery!

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