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Walking in Mikage

Updated: Oct 8, 2023

Mikage is a quiet residential community surrounded by lush green hills, offering tranquility just a short distance from the center of Osaka and Kobe. This picturesque neighborhood boasts scenic Mt.Rokko, ideal for hiking and panoramic views, and is dotted with culturally rich small prayer sites. In Mikage, traditional Japanese residences and advanced modern residences are in perfect harmony with each other. With its peaceful atmosphere and easy access to central Kobe via Mikage Station, it provides a delightful blend of suburban tranquility and urban convenience, making it a perfect destination for those seeking a restful yet culturally enriching experience in Japan.



Yuzuruha Shrine

According to the legend of the shrine, Empress Jingu, on her way from Toyoura in Nagato to Naniwaura in Settsu, learned that Prince Oshikuma had raised an army, and she herself prayed to the Kumano Goddess with a bow, arrow, and armor. After that, all his wishes were fulfilled as he wished. Because of this story, the beautiful peak behind the shrine is compared to both Yumigenbadake (archery) and Mt. Also, according to a legend, Empress Jingu projected her image on a spring in this village (Sawanoi, south of Hanshin Mikage Station), and this village became Mikage or Shadow.

Since its establishment, the shrine has been widely revered as a shrine for "protection from misfortune, family safety, traffic safety, and the fulfillment of various wishes," and in recent years as a shrine for praying for "victory," the divine virtue of the Yatanokaras. In particular, soccer players come to the shrine to pray for victory, and the Japanese professional soccer team Vissel Kobe and the women's soccer team Leonesa regularly come to the shrine to pray.



The Kosetsu Museum of Art

The Kosetsu Museum of Art is currently closed for an extended period due to renovation of its facilities and equipment. The museum opened in 1973 to house the collection of Japanese and Oriental antiquities collected by Ryuhei Murayama, founder of the Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan's largest newspaper companies.

The museum promotes the preservation and study of fine antiques and modern architecture of the past, and supports projects to pass on irreplaceable cultural assets to the future through public service activities that provide opportunities for a wide range of cultural experiences. The Institute also works to maintain and manage the "Former Murayama Family Residence," which preserves the culture and architectural techniques of the Meiji and Taisho periods.

Every spring and fall, "Special Garden Tours" are held to show the exterior of the house to the public. In order to contribute to the improvement of art culture, which is the purpose of the Foundation, they have offered a scholarship for outstanding art students to financially support their educational and research activities.




Jizo, or what we call "Ojizo-sama" which are small stone Buddhas, are often seen in Japanese villages. Many of them were built by villagers along busy roads to pray for the safety of travelers in ancient times. They have come to be revered as saviors who protect sentient beings from suffering.

It is said that Jizo always travels through the six realms (heaven, man, beast, hungry ghost, shura, and hell) to save people from suffering. Jizo is enshrined as "Roku-jizo" or six jizo, corresponding to each of the six realms. The Six Realms are based on the Buddhist scripture "Roku-do Rin-ne (The Six Realms of Reincarnation)," and there are places called "Roku-do" or "Roku-do no Tsuji" in contemporary place names in Japan.

In other words, for people in the past, "this world" and "the next world" were not so far apart. Therefore, Jizo was a good guide not only for pilgrims, but also for ordinary travelers who wished for their safety and traveled together.



Nada Water Mill

The Nada Water Mill is a cherished piece of Japanese history, deeply ingrained in the culture of the Nada region for centuries. Its primary role is to provide the essential water needed for sake brewing, a craft for which Nada is renowned. This precious resource, drawn from the pristine Rokko Mountains, plays a vital part in the sake production process, facilitated by the Nada Water Wheel. The wheel's rotation powers the intricate mechanism responsible for raising water for use in sake breweries.

The Nada Water Mill features a timeless design, boasting a classic wooden water wheel comprised of sizable wooden paddles, activated by the flow of water sourced from a nearby stream. This ingenious use of water energy propels the wheel's rotation, which, in turn, drives the apparatus responsible for elevating the water.

During the Edo period (1603-1867), the Nada region flourished with the operation of as many as 88 waterwheels. These versatile devices not only supported sake brewing but also contributed to activities such as oil pressing for kerosene, flour milling, and the simplification of sake rice. The quality of rapeseed oil and sake produced by these waterwheels was esteemed, earning them the moniker "Nada-me oil and sake," particularly among samurai families in Edo (now Tokyo). This thriving industry led to bustling roads frequented by heavy traffic and cattle drives for the transportation of stones and waterwheels. The rainy season often made these roads perilously muddy, hampering travel.

In 1887, recognizing the need for improved transportation, a local lord purchased land in the area and oversaw the construction of a road to facilitate traffic.

The Nada Water Wheel comprises two distinctive components, one large and one small, akin to two brothers affectionately known as Yamada Taro-Wheel and Jiro-Wheel. (The name "Yamada" serves as a placeholder for the family name, while "Taro" and "Jiro" are commonly used in Japan as placeholders for the elder and younger brother, respectively.)


It is known as “Kaki no Ki Jizo” (Kaki Tree Jizo) because of its location near a persimmon (kaki) tree. It was a busy road where granite from Mt. Rokko and ox carts carrying rice from the water mill went back and forth.

Kakinoki Jizo was built in 1854 to pray for traffic safety on such a road.In the Taisho era (1912-1926), an ox cart driver tied an ox to this jizo and was resting when the ox went wild and the jizo fell down and broke at the neck. The current jizo was rebuilt by a local resident in 1921, but the base is the original.

There is also a jizo wearing a red yodaregake (apron). This is said to have been worn by a deceased child as a memorial.



The Hakutsuru Museum of Art

The Hakutsuru Museum of Art was opened in 1934 by Jihei Kano (Tsuruo, 7th generation Hakutsuru sake brewer), who wanted to show his world-class collection to as many people as possible, rather than keeping it in private hands.

Starting with 500 pieces of ancient art, the museum now has more than 1,450 pieces, including two national treasures (75 pieces) and 22 important cultural relics (39 pieces). The museum has survived many hardships, including war and air raids, post-war turmoil, and the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake of 1995, while preserving valuable ancient artifacts to this day.

The collection includes Japanese art such as bronze and gold works, ceramics and lacquerware, silverware, coins, and jewelry, scrolls, calligraphy, ancient and ceremonial objects, and paintings.

The city of Kobe as seen from the entrance of the Hakutsuru Museum of Art.

Walking back to the Mikage Station from the Hakutsuru Museum of Art.



Fukada Pond Park

Fukada Pond Park is a beautiful park with a view of Fukada Pond, located just north of Hankyu Mikage Station. The area around the station is where the founding families of major Osaka companies built their mansions during the Meiji, Taisho, and Showa eras.

Fukada Pond was originally a reservoir from the farming village period. The name Fukada Pond is thought to come from the fact that it was built in a place where there was a "fuke" (slimy or muddy rice field). This marshy area is said to have served as the eastern defense line for an old castle. Although there is no trace of the castle today, the Fukada Pond area has been completely renovated into a park, and together with the quiet walking paths that remain in the vicinity, it has become a place of relaxation for the local residents.


Fukuakari serves buckwheat noodles that are ground on a millstone and launched with the same water used for brewing sake.

After soba noodles, enjoy matcha sweets.

If you have time, enjoy a leisurely lunch or dinner.

Run by Nishimuraya, a traditional Japanese restaurant in Kobe, "Waraku" offers the traditional taste of ingredients blessed from Hyogo with "Nishimuraya'sHeart".Ingredients are carefully selected from the rich natural environment of Hyogo, which is surrounded by the sea and mountains. Through Japanese cuisine, enjoy the blessings of the four seasons created by the calm waters of the Seto Inland Sea, the varied coastline of the Sea of Japan with its cliffs and rocky shores, and the natural mountains and fields!

The restaurant offers a variety of seating options, including counter seating where you can enjoy the interaction with the chef, open-air table seating where you can enjoy your meal while viewing the bright garden through a large window, and a large semi-private table that can seat up to 10 people.


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