Toyooka City is a stunning rural destination for your next trip to Japan, teeming with hidden treasures brimming with otherworldly beauty no matter the season.
This fall, how about setting off beyond the beaten path with a set of wheels? Discover the top autumn picks in town to plug into your car GPS below:
Stop #1: Arikoyama Inari Shrine torii gates in Izushi
Arikoyama Inari Shrine in Izushi decorates the base of Mount Arikoyama and is well-known for resembling Kyoto’s Fushimi Inari Shrine with its stairway lined with vibrant vermilion red torii gates.
A favorite with locals and visitors alike no matter the season, Izushi's Arikoyama Inari Shrine definitely makes a visit to this castle town south of Kinosaki Onsen worth the drive, especially when the nearby trees are painted with gorgeous yellow, orange, and red leaves.
Snap a commemorative shot at this popular fall photo spot not only due to the area's fiery foliage, but also because the ground of Arikoyama Inari Shrine is a particularly rare photo op no matter where one travels in Japan - torii gates and a castle can be captured in one photo!
*Address: 39 Izushicho Uchimachi, Toyooka, Hyogo 668-0214
*Paid parking lot located next to the shrine
Izushi Tip: get artsy with a DIY lunch
Izushi buckwheat soba noodles are not only delicious, but are served in a style that is quintessential to the ancient castle town.
5 small porcelain plates, known as Izushi Pottery, cradle your cuisine after a DIY noodle-making activity.
*Address: 129-19 Izushicho Kobito, Toyooka, Hyogo 668-0256
*Free parking lot
Stop #2: Ankokuji Temple in Tanto
Ankokuji Temple, a Zen Buddhist temple famed for its vibrant autumn foliage in the farming village of Tanto, is particularly known for a special type of foliage called dodan-tsutsuji, a type of plant native to Japan which transform into a striking mixture of orange and red leaves during the fall.
Visit Ankokuji Temple and admire the serene fiery fall foliage reminiscient of an ancient painting, delivered every year by Mother Nature's skillful strokes of her brush.
*Address: 327 Tantocho Aida, Toyooka, Hyogo 668-0324
*Free parking lot located next to the temple
Stop #3: Hattan Waterfall in Kannabe
Hattan Waterfall has a drop of 24 meters and is nestled amongst the valleys of the Kannabe Highlands.
A popular photo spot for hikers, Hattan Waterfall boasts emerald green waters and is accessible via a staircase connected to a small parking lot.
In the autumn, splashes of orange and yellow leaves adorn this mystical hideaway's cloak of green leaves.
*Address: 85-61 Hidakacho Nashiki, Toyooka, Hyogo 669-5379
*Free parking lot located next to the waterfall
Kannabe Tip: Stop by Tei Apple Orchard to eat your fill of freshly grown apples. Bring one on the road for a car ride snack!
*Address: 830 Hidakacho Tada, Toyooka, Hyogo 669-5371
Stop #4: Cozy Townscapes in Takeno
In the seaside town of Takeno, a storybook setting unfolds with a drive over the Takeno River and into the sleepy neighborhoods home to fishermen and farmers.
The narrow roads are lined with cozy retro yakisugi (charred cedar) homes, an architectural hallmark of the area.
After parking the car, sink your feet into the white sands at Takeno Beach, breathe in the ocean air, and get lost in the wooden maze mapping the town.
*Address: 3366 Takenocho Takeno, Toyooka, Hyogo 669-6201
*Free parking at Takeno Children's Experience Village
Takeno Tip: Head over to Okukinosaki Seaside Hotel for a Tajima beef lunch.
*Address: 4 Takenocho Takeno, Toyooka, Hyogo 669-6201