A hidden treasure in the back of
town away from the crowded
Tucked away in the back of town lies Kiyamachi Street, a quiet pedestrian strolling path. There is very little traffic, aside from the occasional car or van making their way to local residents or small business tucked back here along the river. A walk here in the early morning and late afternoon will greet strollers with groups of local elementary school or junior high students as they walk to and from school. The gorgeous canopy of trees extending the length of the street boasts clouds of cherry blossoms in spring, a green tunnel in the summer, a sea of orange and red in the autumn, and powdery strips of snow in the winter.
Where is Kiyamachi Strolling Path
Straw Craft Museum
At the beginning of your walk, you will see a traditional looking building with a white walls and black trim to the side of the river. This is the Kinosaki Mugiwara Zaiku Straw Craft Museum. Here you can learn about this beautiful and intricate craftsmanship that began around 300 years ago here in Kinosaki. There is also a workshop available for those who would like to try their hand at this local craft.
Mandara Yu is the original hot spring and is where the first official hot spring source was discovered, or rather produced by the town’s oracle – according to legend, in 720 A.D. . This bathhouse is located on the far end of Kiyamachi Street, by where the river bends towards the ropeway.
A walk under the cherry blossoms
Cherry blossom trees line the walkway along the river, creating a tunnel of soft pink for over 1 km long. A popular place during the short cherry blossom season. Depending on the year’s climate and weather these cherry blossoms will begin blooming anywhere from late March or early April. On average the blossoms grace the town with their presence for only one week. This fleeting beauty is why the cherry blossom is so beloved. From dusk lanterns light the trees, allowing visitors to enjoy the blossoms at night for an after-dinner stroll. Another sight to behold, is when all the petals fall from the tree into the river below, creating a raft of sorts. It is also a mesmerizing sight to see when the blossoms begin to wilt and clouds of petals dance in the wind as they fall from the trees.
Going to see the fireflies near the back of Kiyamachi Road is another great reason to take a late evening stroll around early to mid June, although the timing really depends on that year’s weather and the timing of the rainy season, so best to check ahead of time to see when they might be appearing. Fireflies favor moist air and dark places, so the heavily wooded mountains and the aligning river along Kiyamachi Road creates an ideal environment for seeing them.
About midway down you will find a shopping square called Kiyamachi Kouji and the adjacent square. Take notice of the striking design of the wall in the square. This wall is called the “Hibuse Kabe”, meaning fire prevention in Japanese. The wall was created to symbolize the recovery from the Great Hokutan Earthquake that occurred in 1925 and destroyed much of the town, it is also to pray for the further development of Kinosaki.
Within the shopping square you will find a specialty vinegar store, a wood sculpture artisan shop, Kinosaki Mugiwara Zaiku Straw Craft, an ear salon, and a few other shops selling local specialties.
Aside from shops a few fun things to check out are the little book corner and rolling ball sculpture featuring local characters and scenes.
Like scavenger hunts? Walk around the square and see if you can find small sculptures hidden here and there. These creatures are modeled after the same ones that appeared in famous novels about the area, written by Shiga Naoya, a Japanese fiction writer and master stylist. Hint: there are three and one is a bee.