Myoken no Mori Forest: Bathe in the lush nature of Japan’s best “Satoyama”
Kawanishi City’s Mt. Myoken is in southeastern Hyogo Prefecture. This sprawling mountainside is affectionately called “Myoken no Mori” (lit., “Excellent Views Forest”), an ideal place to enjoy the beauty of nature in all seasons.
Let’s explore Myoken no Mori Forest.
Japan’s No. 1 Satoyama
The Kurokawa area of Kawanishi City at the foot of Mt. Myoken is called “Japan’s best satoyama.” What is a “satoyama”? This refers to areas between wilderness and human settlement, a mix of villages, forests and land traditionally cultivated to produce goods like firewood and charcoal. The Kurokawa satoyama has a history dating back to the Heian period (794-1185), and the landscape still retains much of its original character, including the practice of maintaining the uniquely shaped Daiba Kunugi (Sawtooth Oak), and the biodiversity of insects and wildlife in the forest that earn this place the name of “Japan’s best satoyama.”
Myoken no Mori Cable
Myoken no Mori Cable is a trolley on a 666-meter-long track connecting the foot of Mt. Myoken to the summit, a height difference of 223 meters. From the train window, the changing seasonal scenery of Japan’s best satoyama is revealed, whether cherry blossoms in spring or colored leaves in fall. It’s the perfect start for a walk in the Myoken no Mori.
Fare: Adults 400 yen (one way), Children 200 yen (one way)
Myoken no Mori Foot Bath on the Mountain
Just off the Myoken no Mori Cable Sanjo Station is the Myoken no Mori Foot Bath on the Mountain. Soaking your feet amid the 360-degree view of the natural surroundings is deeply relaxing. Take your time and heal your tired soles while gazing at the satoyama scenery from the mountain summit.
Admission: 100 yen (free with a Myoken no Mori Free Pass)
Myoken no Mori Fureai Square
Myoken no Mori Fureai Square is a short walk from Myoken no Mori Cable Sanjo Station. Enjoy a rest or a meal at the Forest Cafe Ajisai (Hydrangea) or from the Observation Deck take part in the game of Kawarake-nage (where people throw unglazed sake cups and plates from a high place to ward off evil or misfortune), then board the mini track train “Signus Forest Railway” that runs through the pastoral satoyama environment (runs only on weekends and holidays, but closed if raining).
If you come to Myoken no Mori Fureai Square, the natural mineral water Myoken no Mizu gushing from a spring 171-meter underground is highly recommended. Bring a container to take some home as Myoken water is known to be delicious even if used for tea or coffee.
Myoken no Mori BBQ Terrace
Myoken no Mori BBQ Terrace is in the forest, surrounded by trees. Cooking utensils can be borrowed for free (some charges apply), and ingredients and drinks are also sold onsite, so it’s easy to enjoy a barbecue even coming empty handed. Your stomach and heart will both thank you for a barbecue amid this natural splendor (reservations required).
There is also a playground for children to enjoy.
Admission: 600 yen for adults, 300 yen for children
In addition, around Myoken no Mori Fureai Square, artwork is also on display, such as the “North Star Entrance Station” and “The Mountain Swing.” Climbing higher from here, enjoy the many seasonal flowers from the Myoken no Mori Lift and look forward to the many pleasures that still await you.
With cherry blossoms in spring and colored leaves in fall, Myoken no Mori is a spectacular place year-round to enjoy “the best satoyama in Japan.”
Myoken no Mori Forest
Address: Okutakiya, Kurokawa, Kawanishi City, Hyogo
Access: From Nose Electric Railway Myokenguchi Station to Kurokawa Station on the Myoken no Mori Cable, go on foot (about 20 minutes) or by bus (about 3 minutes)
*There are few buses, so please check the Hankyu Bus website in advance.
*The information herein is as of October 2021.
This article was originally published on Tourism Guide of Hyogo Hokusetsu.
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