Sightseeing in Tajima, Hyogo – Yumura Onsen, Daijyoji Temple & Genbudo Park
The region of Tajima, which refers to northern Hyogo prefecture, offers a completely different face to that of southern Hyogo, which comprises of big city names such as Kobe where many skyscrapers and vivid colors of neon lights characterize the province. On the contrary, this part of Hyogo is full of nature, history and boasts of premium quality hot springs.
Needless to say, these sites are excellent tourist destinations of Japan, but in this article I would like to offer some alternatives that are equally attractive, just minus the crowds.
Yumura Onsen, located in Mitaka District of Hyogo, is a prestigious onsen town that is rich in history and culture.
The history of Yumura Onsen dates back to 848 during the Heian period when Jikaku Daishi uncovered this hot spring.
This ancient spring known as Arayu (荒湯) is very famous for its extremely hot onsen which is over 98 degrees. The abundance of its boiling and premium quality onsen is recognized as one of Japan’s outstanding hot springs.
This onsen has served the town hot water ever since the Heian period up until today, and thus considered an important lifeline for the people of Yumura.
Still now, locals occasionally gather around the Arayu to use this spring for cooking ingredients such as eggs and vegetables, and these days tourists are welcomed to join the experience as well.
Ryokans, it goes without saying, are the highlights of Yumura too. Many Ryokans which range from traditional to modern contemporary styles line up along the Haruki River (春来川), and the nostalgic feel of this place just makes you want to take a stroll in your yukata!
Daijyoji, located in Kasumi-cho, founded by Gyoki in 745, is home to wonderful architecture along with many works of Ohkyo Maruyama (famous painter, father of sketch in Japan during Edo period) that are listed as important cultural properties of Japan.
Initially, Ohkyo served this temple as a monk, but since his boss was fascinated by his artistic talent, he was given a scholarship to extend his career as a painter. This opportunity led Ohkyo to build a successful career as an artist and subsequently establish his own school which pursued his painting style: a technique which incorporated the Western naturalists style in to the lavish Asian style.
As a token of appreciation Ohkyo contributed many paintings to Daijyoji and these stunning artworks have been appreciated by countless visitors even today.
Although the original paintings of Ohkyo are relocated, many of the digitally replicated versions of his works are displayed inside the temple as they were over 200 years ago.
The work of Ohkyo is magnificent indeed, however the work of his disciples are not far behind. 165 Original works of his pupils are left as they were inside the temple and many of these are designated important cultural properties of Japan.
Taking photos of these artworks is prohibited, but the adjacent souvenir shop offers varieties of Karintos (Japanese sweet & savory snacks) that are packaged in bags printed with some of those pictures so that you can take home the beautiful world of Maruyama Ohkyo and his school with you to enjoy.
Genbudo Park, part of Saninkaigan National Park and Global Geopark located between Toyo-oka and Kinosaki Onsen, is a place where you can find a series of enormous basalt caves formed from solidification of magma 1.6 million years ago.
The magnificent organic columns of these igneous rocks which depict the phenomenon of earth are a masterpiece of natural art.
There are 4 caves: Genbu, Seiryu, Byakko, Suzaku (named after the Chinese mythological creatures), within the premises and you can walk to each of them in approximately over an hour following the paved path.
The spectacular sceneries of these columns will surely be stunning for you!
In order to access Yumura Onsen using public transport, catching the train from Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe or Himeji and changing to a local bus will be your options. You may board the train on JR Sanin Honsen (JR 山陰本線) to Hamasaka Station (浜坂駅) or Yoka Station (八鹿駅) then change to a bus (Zentan Bus) for Yumura Onsen from there.
To access Daijyoji on public transport, like the above, you will need to board the train on JR Sanin Honsen to Kasumi Station then change to a bus that stops at Ohkyodera Bus Tei (応挙寺バス停).
To access Genbudo Park on public transport, you will need to ride the JR Saninn Line to JR Toyooka station or Kinosaki Onsen station then change to a taxi to reach there. The taxi ride takes about 7 mins from Toyooka station and 5 mins from Kinosaki station.