Mukogawa : A Spot For All !
Nick Breen February 2, 2016
The Muko river in Hyogo prefecture finds its source all the way up in Himeji city. It falls from a mountain named Mt Shirakami in the Tamba highland range and travels all the way into Osaka bay and splits the cities of Itami and Takarazuka, doing the same to Nishinomiya and Amagasaki, along the way. The river totals around 66 kilometres in length but most of the action is limited to a short 15 kilometre section of it. Following the flow of water from Mt Shirakawa, the well used, built-up section of the river begins around the Takarazuka point, not far from the Takarazuka Grand Theatre. It is here that the cycle path begins and heads around 12 kilometres south toward Hanshin Mukogawa station. Running parallel to the cycle path is a wide, sandy walking and running path that continues all the way to Osaka Bay, about 15 kilometres toward the sea. On the weekends especially, like-minded runners, walkers and cyclists take to the stretch in search of their well-needed hit of endorphins. More adventurous cyclists use the path to lead them to steep inclines and terrifying downhills in and amongst the hills of Mt Rokko. Runners, too, can come off the river at a small town called Nigawa, and begin an off-road run in the trails of Mt Kabuto. While Mukogawa offers superb stretches of running and cycling routes, it isn't, of course, the only thing that merits the river a write-up. Similarly to other inner-city rivers across Japan, Mukogawa acts as a wonderful community centre for those living in close proximity. Sunday baseball, soccer and rugby teams descend on the river weekly, as do local school and University sports clubs. And each morning, crowds of retirees amble along to their designated spot to go through their radio calisthenics routine. Those who aren't affiliated to any particular group or event are the most noticeable, though. Locals and visitors utilise the space for whatever the activity may be; a stroll with their dog, a couple of drinks with a friend or perhaps a kick around of a football.