If we would be askwd about a typical spot in Hyōgo Prefecture many of us would surely answer “Kōbe”, mentioning places like Arima Hot springs, Kinosaki Hot Springs, or Himeji Castle. In this article we are going to introduce another recommended, yet not so well known spot in Hyōgo: the Tonomine plateau.
What’s special about the Tonomine plateau?
The Tonomine plateau belongs to one of Hyōgo’s Prefectural Natural Parks. Here the grassland extends for about 90 hectares and it is possible to appreciate the amount and the variety of beautiful landscapes during the four seasons.
In spring the flowers are in full bloom all around, while summer is fresh and quiet. Fall shows the colors of seven herbs growing in the area, while in winter snow covers the plateau surface.
Especially, Tonomine is famous for being a plateau where fields of Japanese Pampas (susuki) take place.
The Tonomine plateau is also a set location for soe movies: a part of the scenes for Murakami Haruki’s “Norwegian wood” was shot here during 2008. Also, this plateau was used as the location of NHK’s historical drama “Taira no Kiyomori”.
How to get to the Tonomine plateau
The Tonomine plateau is located in Hyōgo Prefecture’s Kamikawa town, and reaching it by using public transportation is pretty complicated.
First, coming from any area of Japan, you have to get to Himeji Station: if you come from Kyōto, Ōsaka or Kōbe, JR West’s Special rapid trains are handy.
If you come from Tōkyō you can directly get to Himeji Station by Shinkansen high speed trains (be aware that some of them skip Himeji Station, so check their schedule beforehand).
Besides Shinkansen, you can choose to travel by “Sunrise Izumo” and “Sunrise Seto” overnight Limited Express trains or by night bus. (details: http://tinyurl.com/nx986kq )
At Himeji Station you have to transfer on a regional line: take a Bantan Line’s train
and get off at Teramae Station, there you will find a Himeji Bus heading to the Tonomine Plateau (砥峰高原 in Japanese). You can ask for the bus timetable at the following places.
(Kamikawa Town Regional Development Division Office, 0790-34-0971;
Kamikawa Tourism Association, 0790-34-1001)
You can travel from everywhere in Japan to Teramae Station using a Japan Rail Pass, bu you cannot ride a Nozomi or Mizuho Shinkansen (while Hikari, Kodama and Sakura are ok), and you have to pay an overfee if you wish to travel on the overnight trains mentioned above.
Since the Tonomine plateau is a vast place rich of awesome landscapes, driving there would be just perfect: if you decide to visit it by car coming from Shikoku area we recommend you to enter the grassland after crossing the Akashi Bridge, which is also the longest suspended bridge in the world!
We went to the Tonomine plateau in early summer, travelling by car from Ōsaka.
Hyōgo’s shore is very populated, with big cities, and economic activity, so it gives the impression of a lively place, but after entering the mountain area the atmosphere
becomes very peaceful and relaxing.
Trees are not many, but the Pampas grass grows all around: walking in the cool
summer breeze I felt refreshed while watching the Pampas grass swinging in the air.
We couldn’t find any shop around, but practical facilities for picnics are set in the whole area. There are also toilets and a hiking trail crossing the plateau. We walked along that trail for a bit, reaching a small high ground where we could behold an awesome view.
By hearing the chirping of small birds and watching the clouds floating in the sky, we entered in a magic and relaxed mood.
Close to the Tonomine plateau the Takeda Castle ruins, known as “the Japanese Machu Picchu” (if you see it, you can understand the reason of this name) take place.
Don’t stop your Hyōgo adventure to Himeji and Kōbe, take a step into nature!