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HYOGO Prefecture

Area: 8,396 km2
Population: 5,5559 million
Region: Kinki
Capital: Kobe

photo by Marufish

Hyōgo prefecture is in the western Kansai region of the main Japanese island Honshu. Its capital is the city of Kobe.
Hyogo one of the most geographically and culturally diverse prefectures in Japan, and the only one to span the width of the central island of Honshu.

Located between the sea and the Rokko mountain range, Kobe is the sixth largest city in Japan and is considered one of the country’s most attractive cities.
It is ranked as the number one best place to live amongst expatriates. A synagogue, a mosque (Japan`s first), a Sikh temple (also Japan's first), a Chinatown, and European architecture mark Kōbe as a place where foreigners and foreign culture first arrived in Japan.

Although hit by a devastating earthquake in 1995 which killed over 6000 people and destroyed large parts of the city, today the city is completely rebuilt and only a few signs of the terrible event remain.
In 2002 the Kobe Earthquake Memorial Museum was opened to commemorate the tragic event and to educate visitors about earthquakes and disaster prevention.

Being a large city, Kobe offers plentiful of attractions that including Kobe Harborland, a popular shopping and entertainment complex and Meriken Park, a waterfront park which is also home to Kobe Tower and Kobe Maritime Museum. Other places to see are Sumadera Temple and Chinatown, called Nankinamachi.

There are also plenty of activities that can be done in Kobe. One of them is the Shin-Kobe Ropeway, a cable-car that will take you up to the observation deck on Mt.Rokko and to the Nunobiki Herb Garden where approximately 75,000 herbs and flowers of 200 varieties bloom seasonally. From the gondola you can see famous sites such as Nunobiki Waterfall and Gohonmatsu Entei, also known as Nunobiki Gohonmatsu dam.

You may also enjoy spending some time in Arima Onsen, a famous hot spring located behind Mount Rokko. Its tranquility and beautiful natural surroundings attracts many tourists each year.
Hyogo is blessed with an abundance of wonderful resources, and the prefecture’s most significant feature is most definitely the 400 year-old Himeji Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a national treasure. Unlike many other Japanese castles, Himeji Castle has never been destroyed and survives its original form, making it Japan’s most spectacular castle.

The Hachi Highlandse located in the northern Tajima District is one of the most popular ski resorts in the Kansai region where off-seasons activities such as camping and hiking can also be enjoyed.

The Yotakuji templee in Sanda City is famous as flower viewing spot where as many as 3.5million of irises of about 650 species blossom in June and July.

Kinosaki Hot Spring located in the Tajima District, has a history of about 1,400 years. Also in Tajima District is umura Hot Spring, a 1,150 year old hot spring where the 98℃ water from the sprinted can even be used to boil eggs.
By plane
The prefecture's only significant airport is Kobe Airport , serving a limited variety of domestic destinations.
Closest international airport is Kansai International Airport, located in Osaka Prefecture, near Osaka city while Osaka Itami also located in Osaka Prefecture is the busiest and best served domestic airport. Both have convenient transportation links to Hyogo – Itami is only 40 minutes away from downtown Kobe by bus.

By train
One of the world’s fastest trains, the Shinkansen, or bullet train, runs from Kobe to destinations east and west, making the travel time from Kobe to Tokyo only about two and a half hours. In combination with those of Osaka and Kyoto, Hyogo’s extensive transportation system, including various railways such as JR, Hankyu, Hanshin, Sanyo, Kobe Dentetsu, and the Kobe Municipal Subway, make up an integrated commuter sphere in the larger Kansai metropolitan area.
Due to the region’s vast land size, climates in Hyogo vary by region. In the South the climate is moderate with little rain, while the cloudy and rainy north receives seasonal winds from Siberia in the wintertime and has lot of snowfall. The hottest month is August, with a daily average temperature of 28.3℃, while temperatures go down to 4.9℃ in February, the coldest month of the year.
During summer, you should be fine if you wear a short-sleeved shirt, t-shirt or a dress, however a long sleeved shirt is highly recommended if you choose to go near water or to the mountains.
In the winter, be sure to bring warm clothes such as winter coat or jacket, hat, scarf and gloves.
For the spring and autumn a light jacket or a sweater should keep you warm.
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