The linchpin of western Japan and considered the geographic center of the nation, Hyogo Prefecture is full of unique qualities. For starters, it is one of the few prefectures with coastlines on both the Japan Sea and Seto Inland Sea. Its southern edge features the massive Awaji Island, which can be reached by the Akashi Kaikyō Bridge.The Great Naruto Bridge provides access to Shikoku via Tokushima Prefecture.
Perhaps the heart of the Kansai region, Hyogo is characterized by the commercial, industrial, and cultural might of Kobe City and the historic significance of Himeji City and its legendary castle. In fact, the southern region of the prefecture is dotted with cities that are filled with exciting and developed urban areas.
A ride on the Ako and Sanyo train lines or a journey along National Route 2 will allow you direct access to every major urban area from Kobe to Himeji. The possibilities for sightseeing, shopping, dining and city trekking are endless in the chic metropolises near the southern coast.
Hyogo Prefecture also has a spectacular hinterland filled with mountains, hills, fields, and pastures that are every bit as important as its air and sea ports. Hyogo beef, which is produced from cattle raised inland, is regarded as some of the highest in quality and most delicious in the world.
Northern Hyogo is distinctive for its hot springs, of which Kinosaki hot spring town is exemplar. With quiet willow-lined streets and a backdrop of wonderfully preserved traditional Japanese architecture, it is easy to leave behind the hustle and bustle of the big cities in the south.
Another popular destination in the north are the ruins of Takeda Castle, which can be found high up in the hills of Asago City. At 353 meters in elevation, the site is often cloud covered, adding to the mystery and delight.
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