THE Best Castle Town in JAPAN Daytrip IZUSHI

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The Little Kyoto in the
north of Hyogo.
A castle
town that you can walk
around.

IZUSHI

Izushi Town is part of Toyooka City in northern Hyogo Prefecture.
The castle town is famous for its beautiful streets, for having the oldest playhouse in the Kinki region, and for Izushi soba, which is fun to eat
thanks to its unique eating style. The town attracts tourists not only because it is western Japan’s leading soba area, home to around 50 different
soba restaurants, but also because of its location right in the middle of Kinosaki Onsen, Amanohashidate, and the Takeda Castle ruins. These are
the main tourist attractions of the northern parts of Hyogo and Kyoto, so many visitors stop by on their way to and from these places.

History

Izushi is an old, historic town whose name has been heard since since the age of ancient
mythology. The foundation of the present town came into being as a castle town developed
around Izushi Castle, built in 1604. Izushi is known as the “Little Kyoto of Tajima” because its
streets were arranged in a grid pattern. Before Izushi Castle was built, Arikonoyama Castle,
located to the south of the town on top of Mount Ariko, was used. It was a large castle,
spanning 740 meters east to west and 780 meters north to south. While this spectacle is no
longer visible, the view of the town of Izushi is beautiful from the summit, so we recommend
hiking all the way up to the top of the mountain.

Izushi History
Izushi History
Izushi History
Izushi History

Izushi is an old, historic town whose name has been heard since since the age of ancient
mythology. The foundation of the present town came into being as a castle town developed
around Izushi Castle, built in 1604. Izushi is known as the “Little Kyoto of Tajima” because its
streets were arranged in a grid pattern. Before Izushi Castle was built, Arikonoyama Castle,
located to the south of the town on top of Mount Ariko, was used. It was a large castle,
spanning 740 meters east to west and 780 meters north to south. While this spectacle is no
longer visible, the view of the town of Izushi is beautiful from the summit, so we recommend
hiking all the way up to the top of the mountain.

Festivals

The main spring festival in Izushi is the Cherry Blossom Festival, with the Izushi Soba Eating Contest and the Arikoyama Inari Shrine's
Hatsuuma Festival also being held in this season. Summer is the time for the Firefly Festival, the Bon Dance Festival, and the Atago Fire
Festival. In fall, there is the Fall Festival, which is also known as the Fighting Danjiri Festival; the Castle Festival, in which a lord’s procession
parades through town; and the New Soba Festival. All of these are great opportunities to experience Japanese culture.

Sight

Izushi Castle ruins

All of Izushi Castle's buildings were demolished in 1868, but in 1871, Shinkoro clock
tower was built beside the remains of the main gate. Originally a drum tower, a
large clock face was added in 1881. A 20-meter-tall relic of the castle gate, it is now
the symbol of Izushi. Other structures that provide a feel of the atmosphere of
olden times are the inner citadel's east and west corner turrets, reconstructed in
1968, and the main bridge and main gate, rebuilt in 1994.

Izushi Castle ruins

Eirakukan:The oldest playhouse in the
Kansai region

Built in 1901, the Eirakukan is the oldest playhouse in the Kinki region. Back in the
day, flourished as a highly successful center for popular culture, with performances
including kabuki, popular theater, and vaudeville. With the spread of movies and
television and the diversification of entertainment styles, the Eirakukan eventually
closed in 1964. In 2008, however, it underwent a major refurbishment and made a
comeback after 44 years. These days, just like in the past, the playhouse is a venue
for a range of events that include not only kabuki, kyogen, plays, and rakugo, but
also manzai stand-up comedy, concerts, and lectures. At times when no
performances are being held, the backstage area is also open to the public.

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Eirakukan:The oldest playhouse in the Kinki region

The leading area for soba in western Japan

In 1706, the Izushi Domain was transferred to the Sengoku clan, who were the lords
of present-day Ueda in Nagano Prefecture. With this, the techniques employed by
soba noodle artisans who arrived with the clan were added to soba-making
techniques originally handed down in the area, and Izushi soba was born. As time
passed, the soba noodles came to be served on small, white, Izushi ware plates, and
a style of eating several plates of noodles was established. With a set of five plates
as one serving, the soba comes with condiments such as egg, grated yam, green
onions, grated daikon, and wasabi, and dashi soup served in a sake flask. These
days, Izushi has about 50 different soba restaurants and is known as the leading area
for soba in western Japan. So that visitors may enjoy eating and comparing the soba
served in different restaurants, we recommend purchasing a set of reasonably-priced
Sara Soba Tour coupons, which allow you to eat at three restaurants of your choice.
Some shops also offer soba-making experiences, allowing you to enjoy the deeper
aspects of soba.

Izushi Castle ruins

Izushi ware:said to be the ultimate white
porcelain

Izushi-yaki, or Izushi ware, is a local ceramic style said to have started at the time
of the 11th emperor, Suinin, with the firing of plates and dishes required for daily
living. Izushi ware's present-day style is said to have emerged when a kiln for firing
unglazed earthenware was set up in 1784. The white of the porcelain is so pure that
Izushi ware came to be called the “ultimate white.” The painting on these wares is
delicate and characterized by somber colors, and Izushi ware is said to be the
porcelain of porcelains. Currently, there are four kilns that have shops. Some kilns
offer porcelain painting experiences, which we recommend as something that will
create wonderful memories of your trip.

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Izushi Castle ruins

Izushi Shuzo:A historical sake
brewery with mud walls

Built during the 1700s with mud walls, Izushi Shuzo has become a tourist attraction.
The brewery sells directly, and it is possible to taste products such as its famous
brand Sasazuru. Recommended for souvenirs.

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Izushi Castle ruins

The many temples of the castle town

The castle towns of old Japan offered advantages such as defense, so many temples came to be
built in them. The formation of temple areas was also a frequent phenomenon. Izushi was no
exception, and still has an area known as “Teramachi”, meaning “Temple Town”. These
days, the temples are not all together in the one area, but there are many that are very
atmospheric, including Sukyo-ji Temple, which has historical connections with Takuan Soho.
We invite you to combine your soba tour with tour of Izushi’s temples.

ZEN EXPERIENCE
at famous Japanese pickles temple: Sukyoji < Coming Soon >

Stay

Nishidaya Inn: an accommodation
facility
built in a traditional
architectural style

The Nishidaya was built in a traditional Japanese style around 1930. Two stories tall
and with a tiled roof, this precious, large-scale town house has a total floor area of
about 200 square meters. The building was given a new life as an accommodation
facility and, because the building was not in use for a period of time, serves as a
sightseeing spot that lets future generations learn about traditional culture and
building techniques.

< An official web site of NISHIDAYA >
Nishidaya Inn: an accommodation facility built in a traditional architectural style

Location

About 40 minutes by car from Kinosaki Onsen, about 50 minutes by car from
Takeda Castle ruins, and about 1 hour by car from Amanohashidate. About 3 hours from Osaka, Kobe, and Kyoto. About 2 hours from Himeji.
In addition to the Nishinomaru parking lot, (a large parking lot with convenient access to the city), four other parking lots are also available.