Maybe you’ve already visited Japan and done the tourist favorites: Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and Mount Fuji and you want more.
Or maybe you’ve never been to Japan yet you’re craving something different. If you do plan to visit Japan soon, skip the major cities and seek out more offbeat cities that have their own local character.
Akashi is a city like this. It’s a short train ride away from metropolitan Kobe in one direction and castle-town Himeji in the other. If you’re coming from other parts of Japan, no worries! The bullet train or shinkansen stops at Nishi-Akashi station. Here are three places you must visit if you’re ever in this part of Japan.
Akashi Park and Akashi Castle
One of the city’s highlights is Akashi Park. The park is quite large and great for picnicking, especially during sakura season. There are several cherry blossom trees, especially around the large paddling lake. Within the park, you will find Akashi Castle, built in 1620. Although very little of the original castle remains (two watchtowers and some castle walls), the views from the top are worth it. From here, you can see the Seto Inland Sea, Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge (the world’s longest suspension bridge), and a sweeping panorama of the city.
Akashi is pretty famous in Japan for its seafood. Even if you’ve already been to Japan’s seafood mecca, Tsukiji Market, you’ll certainly appreciate the local charm of Akashi’s fish market, located within walking distance of Akashi train station. On Uonotana Shotengai, a 400-year old shopping street, there’s no shortage of squiggly, dead, dried, or otherwise preserved sea monsters. The local specialities sold here are sea bream, octopus, and eel. With over 100 shops including restaurants, there’s a ton of seafood to sample. Don’t leave without trying akashiyaki, Akashi’s version of takoyaki. Unlike Osaka’s version, Akashi’s yummy octopus-filled fritters are dipped into a light dashi broth. If octopus isn’t your thing, here is also the perfect place to get fresh sushi. The street is also very pretty, with hundreds of colorful fisherman’s flags or tairyobata so go camera-crazy.
Akashi Municipal Planetarium
Akashi’s other claim to fame is that it’s located exactly 135 degrees east longitude, the meridian line used to measure Japanese Standard Time (JST). Built in 1960, the Akashi Municipal Planetarium honors Akashi’s status as “the city of time.” The planetarium is the perfect place to learn more about the stars, planets, time, and space. Bonus points: from here, you can also get crisp views of Akashi-Kaikyo bridge on clear, sunny days.
Photos: © Hot Foot Trini
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