Locations - Hyogo

 

Hyogo

Hyogo is the prefecture that borders Osaka and Kyoto. It contains the city of Kobe (pop. 1.5 million) the sixth biggest city in Japan, which is a hub for fashion and forgein influence. Protected by the Seto Inland Sea, Hyogo has mild weather, usually on the sunny side. Tokushima prefecture on Shikoku, the subtropical large island south of Hyogo, is hit with a bit more rain coming off the Pacific Ocean. Hyogo has about 5.6 million people and Tokushima in Shikoku has 786 thousand. Both Hyogo and Tokushima are great prefectures for outdoor sports. When you've got the whole of Japan to choose from, why live in Hyogo or Shikoku? Let’s hear it from the instructors who live there and love it!

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"Hyogo is a wonderful place to work, it has the perfect balance between city life and nature. I love travelling to work and seeing the mist on the mountains on one side while enjoying the beautiful ocean on the other. It is so convenient to travel to either Osaka or Kyoto and has many sightseeing places itself. My favorite thing about Hyogo is that everyone knows one another and there is a definite sense of community that is sometimes missed in the bigger cities."
- Lauren, Hyogo Instructor Manager

Kobe is the hub of Hyogo prefecture and a short train ride from the giant city of Osaka but at the same time Kobe and the surrounding cities in Hyogo retain charm and beauty because of their location – sandwiched between the mountains and the sea.

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“I've lived here seven years and I don't think I'll ever move. On my days off I can climb a mountain or take my bike to the beach, but I'm always close to all the stores and restaurants.”
– Jennifer, Kobe instructor

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“the legendary Koshien Stadium is located here, home of the Hanshin Tigers, the team with arguably the most enthusiastic and boisterous fans in Japan. It is also the site of the two annual national high school baseball tournaments: the spring Invitational and the summer Championship, which are watched from around the country. Japanese high school baseball players all dream of competing at Koshien. Indeed, most people aren't even aware that Koshien is in Nishinomiya, but think of it as a town unto itself.”
– Andrew, Nishinomiya instructor

If you enjoy America’s favorite pastime, there is no better place than Nishinomiya. Home to one of Japan’s most popular teams, the Hanshin Tigers, as well as the annual high school baseball tournament any baseball fan will be singing “Take me out to the ballgame” all year long.

Want to be more than a spectator? Join in the Japanese running craze at the Kobe marathon in November with over 18,000 participants.

“Himeji is close enough to enjoy a day out in Osaka or Kobe, while allowing you to enjoy a quiet and peaceful lifestyle. While you may get an adventure elsewhere, you get a family in Himeji.”
– Blaine, Himeji instructor

History buffs will be infatuated with Himeji Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Japan’s largest castle. The castle is as white as the back of a heron and its stunning appearance is especially beautiful at night when it’s lit up. The expansive castle grounds are also just the spot to have a picnic and many festivals are held nearby.

Get out on the open road and take a ride to Awaji Island across the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the world. Enjoy a dizzying elevator ride up to the top of the bridge museum or kick back and relax at one of the island’s many hot springs. If you are lucky enough you might be able to catch a glimpse of the whirlpools on the other side of the island. Why not try out your sea legs and get an up close view on one of the tour boats?

“The famous Naruto water swirls are quite lovely to view from both far or near. Near, meaning in a boat that gets swirled around in them.”
– David, Tokushima instructor

Far from the bright lights of Broadway, one can still catch a good show in Takurazuka, Hyogo. Home of the famous all-women Takarazuka Review where they put on musicals, operas, and Japanese works once or twice a day in their Grand Theater. The catchy music and energetic dancing will get your hands clapping.

“Let’s rocket!” with a trip to the Tezuka Osamu Manga Museum in Takurazuka, Hyogo. Compare hand sizes with Astro Boy on the walk of fame or spend your time in the Kimba inspired lounge with one of Osamu’s many books. If you feel inspired, head down to the basement with its own animation workshop.

Put on your dancing shoes and hop on over to Tokushima for the Awa Odori dance festival which draws sightseers from all over Japan. Groups don traditional clothing and play traditional instruments in this popular four day festival.

Half way around the world you can still get your Christmas cheer at Kobe Illuminarie where the main streets are decorated in lights that form a beautiful tunnel. The festive atmosphere dispels the chill of winter and at the end of the tunnel, hot wine and food stalls await to tempt and satisfy even the strongest Scrooges.

Kobe beef. Need we say more? The ultimate melt-in-your-mouth wagyu Kobe beef experience is waiting for you. Foodies, and their stomachs, will quickly fall in love with Hyogo. From rare varieties of citrus fruit to Sanuki Udon, arguably the best udon noodles in the country. If you prefer a taste of the sea, Akashi in Hyogo has what you are looking for. Walking down the shop lined street, sellers will offer you freshly cooked octopus, squid, and other snacks while you pore over which fish to bring home for dinner.

Soak up some history with 600 years of tradition at the famed Nada Sake Brewery and museum. Or say “Kanpai!” while you tour the Kirin Beer Brewery in Kobe or relax in the historical Dogo Beer Brewery and bathhouse. The latter is a cultural location with 3,000 years of history and the model setting for Hayao Miyazaki’s film, Spirited Away.

Fashionistas might be familiar with Milan and Paris but don’t overlook Kobe. The three kilometer downtown shopping arcade has all the latest fashions as well as anything one would ever need. As a port city, these shops not only offer the best of Japan, but the world.

Desire something more traditional? Nestled in the mountains is Arima, a miniature Kyoto with little Japanese treasures sold in quaint shops. The town also has a number of hot springs and a free foot bath to sooth weary feet after a long day shopping.

“The first time I went to Arima, I had lunch and took a bath at one of the nice resorts, which was a bit of a treat but not too expensive. Don’t forget to try the cider and cream sandwich cookies!”
– Andrew, Nishinomiya instructor

Shikoku is the place for outdoorspeople. Giant rivers cut through the island, which are perfect for rafting or kayaking. Hikers travel not only up and down the mountains, but you can see pilgrims walking from temple to temple around the circumference of the island. If you feel inspired, it takes about 3 weeks to walk all at once and visit the 88 temples. Cutting the journey into sections or taking one of the many bus tours can make the pilgrimage a bit easier for the average layman.

Tighten up your boot straps and take a hike up Rokko Mountain, one of the 300 famous mountains in Japan. Reward yourself and relax at the Garden Terrace with its “million dollar nightscape” and fine dining or take things at a slower pace and play a round at The Kobe Golf Course, Japan’s oldest golf course.

“Living in Himeji is a rewarding experience. Maybe even more so than living in one of the bigger cities. It's close enough to enjoy a day out in Osaka or Kobe, while allowing you to enjoy a quiet and peaceful lifestyle. And the school is one of the best schools I've worked in. The students are engaging and come regularly, which allows you to establish a rapport and become close with them. While you may get an adventure elsewhere, you get a family in Himeji. The students give you the same effort you put in and reward you for caring about them and their growth. I've only been here for four months, and already I know I've gained some experiences I'll keep with me for the rest of my life.”
– Blaine, Himeji instructor

Baseball: the legendary Koshien Stadium is located here, home of the Hanshin Tigers, the team with arguably the most enthusiastic and boisterous fans in Japan. It is also the site of the two annual national high school baseball tournaments: the spring Invitational and the summer Championship, which are watched from around the country. Japanese high school baseball players all dream of competing at Koshien. Indeed, most people aren't even aware that Koshien is in Nishinomiya, but think of it as a town unto itself.
Shopping: the city is home to two very nice shopping malls, the smaller Lalaport Koshien, and the larger and grander Nishinomiya Gardens. Virtually anything you wish to buy can be found here: groceries, imported foods, books, clothes, kitchenware, interior decorations, electronics, you name it. In addition, most major national retailers have stores elsewhere in the city.
Nature: looking to take a walk by the beach, or go for a hike? You can do both here. Osaka Bay is directly to the south, and while the coastline has a lot of industry, there are some nice beaches and yacht harbors as well. The Rokko mountain range, with all of its great hiking trails, is just to the northwest. The Shukugawa river is a nice place for a walk, and well-known particularly for its spring cherry blossoms. Many of the roads have bicycle lanes as well, making it easy to get around.
– Andrew, Nishinomiya instructor

“I live in Nishinomiya city which is the third largest city in Hyogo Prefecture after Kobe and Himeji. It is located roughly halfway between Osaka and Kobe and is international, second only to Kobe city. There are two reasons for this: the first is the presence of the large and famous Kansei Gakuin University which attracts foreign students from around the world and second, the area is home to many Christians, both Japanese and foreign. I like Nishinomiya because it is convenient, clean and safe.”
– Thomas, Nishinomiya instructor

“Enjoy, the many scenic views that surround you in Tokushima. Enjoy the famous Awa Odori Festival, in August!` Tokushima is famous for the Awa Odori Festival held every year in August. If you are into sightseeing, there are plenty of waterfalls, and temples to visit. Also, the famous Naruto water swirls/ pools is quite lovely to view from both far or near. “Near” meaning in a boat that gets swirled around in them. There are lots of get places to do hiking and mountain climbing.”
– David, Tokushima instructor

“One of my favorite aspects of Kobe is how foreigner friendly the city is. In addition to the community center, which offers free Japanese lessons and books in English, there are also many bars and restaurants featuring English menus.
Kobe is what I would call, the "perfect-sized city." Nestled between beautiful mountains and the sea, Kobe offers a vibrant nightlife in Sannomiya without the intimidating crowds of cities like Osaka or Tokyo. If you're looking for a great, comfortable but exciting location to begin your journey, you can't find a better place than Kobe.”
– Kyle, Kobe instructor

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