Toba is a coastal city in the prefecture of Mie, located approximately two and a half hours from Osaka. It has a population south of 20,000, and an area of 107.3 km² so it’s less than half the size of Osaka with a fraction of the people, but it does have that Japanese seaside charm.
On any given day, the banks of the Kamogawa are flourishing with activity, and depending on the season, you’ll find a variety of people walking dogs or cycling.
Awaji Island, located just south of Kobe in Hyogo prefecture is worth putting on your itinerary if you visit Kansai. It’s connected to Honshu—Japan’s main island—by the nearly 4km long Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge.
This Koka Ninja House, located in the suburb of Koka City in Shiga prefecture, once a residence of The Koka Ninja clan, is currently the only real Japanese ninja house in the country.
If you like old world charm and nostalgia, then you will love Imai-cho town. At 17.4 hectares, it’s the largest preservation district for groups of traditional buildings in Japan. And since there are in fact people still residing in Imai-cho, it really is a living historical town.
Since these cities aren't what the typical tourist thinks to drop in on, you also won’t have to suffer through the crushing crowds, and can instead enjoy a more relaxed, authentic taste of Japanese beauty and culture.
His works are notable for the unconventional shapes and designs as well as the philosophy he puts in creating them – he believes in what he calls ‘ordered poverty.’
There’s more to the area than the renowned temple. Being a convenient Kintetsu or Keihan train ride from Osaka, and south of Kyoto city itself, it’s well worth the trip to Fushimi. The first thing you’ll notice when you arrive is that it’s a quaint, picturesque and peaceful place, compared to the hustle and bustle of Kyoto city, or even Fushimi Inari—at least it was when I visited.
Surrounding Kobe city is the abundant mountain terrains of Rokko-san (Mount Rokko). There are many hiking trails available at Mount Rokko and some range from three to seven hours depending on difficulty level and speed (stamina).
To be able to absorb the wholeness of the Japanese spirit, experiencing a brief moment of Zazen meditation can be quite bracing and uplifting. At the Shorinji Temple in Kyoto, regarded as the oldest Buddhist temple in Kyoto built in 712, visitors are allowed to engage in Zazen meditation sessions by reservation.
Tomogashima Island in Wakayama Prefecture is a natural and historical treasure that combines the allure of crumbling architecture with lush natural greenery and impressive rock formations.