Food, Wine & Travel in Style


Kinosaki Onsen, Japan's Best Hot Spring Town

5 Ways to Relive the Samurai Era

From landscapes dotted with temples and shrines, mystical villages manifesting the centuries-old heritage, Japan is a fascinating country of ancient cultures.

Despite international visitor numbers to Japan being at record heights, the land of the rising sun has managed to keep its heritage alive and largely preserves the culture and aesthetics reminding of the country's old days.

One region that has managed to preserve its old-world charm particularly well is Kinosaki Onsen, and its surroundings, located in the untouched Hyogo prefecture of Japan. Just a 35-minute drive from Kinosaki Onsen, Izushi Castle town, often referred to as 'little Kyoto', is a slice of unspoiled territory, charming visitors with a nostalgic atmosphere of the old days of Japan being home to many Edo-era relics and museums, but also a scrumptious local specialty—Izushi Sara Soba.

According to Visit Kinosaki, the best ways to relive the historic eras of Japan in Izushi include:

Sample Izushi Soba, noodles made of buckwheat

It is said that Izushi soba originated in 1706, when a soba maker from Shinshu Ueda Domain (now Nagano Prefecture) accompanied the newly appointed castle lord of Izushi, Masaakira Sengoku from the Sengoku clan, to Izushi. Izushi soba is traditionally served on small plates, a single serving consists of 5 plates. There are about 50 soba noodle shops in Izushi-soba-flavoured desserts are a must-try as well. There is even an annual soba-eating tournament, held this year on April 21st.

Wear a Kimono
For those looking for a fun and unique way to enjoy Izushi, you may want to check out Izushi's kimono rental service. For a small fee you will be able to rent a kimono and enjoy strolling around the Izushi Castle Ruins for the day.

Visit a Samurai House
Visit this former samurai house located right near Izushi Castle itself and delve deep into the Edo era. Highlights on display at Izushi Karoh Yashiki include old weapons, tools and other belongings.

Zen Meditation at Sukyoji Temple

Sukyoji Temple was built in 1392. This was the family temple where the family of Izushi Castle had worshipped for generations. In addition to tours of the garden, visitors can try full-fledged zen meditation and traditional temple vegetarian food.

Simply take in the Spirit
The best way to take in the spirit of the old Japan is simply by wandering Izushi's quaint, historic streets. It's here where shops, homes, and other buildings represented by Eirakukan Kabuki Theater have retained their original charm, where locals still live in town, and where community and rural life are felt in on every turn, adding to the authentic and nostalgic atmosphere.

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