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Four of Kansai’s Most Picturesque Destinations You Didn’t Know Existed

September 24, 2020 Visit North Asia No Comments Email Email

From mountain ranges to endless fields of flowers, Japan is well-known for its spectacular outlooks and photography opportunities. To help plan your next Japan trip, we’ve found four of Kansai’s most breathtaking year-round destinations (that you might have never heard of) to add to your itinerary, with all destinations accessible along the Kintetsu Railway line.

1. Explore the hidden natural wonder of Akame Waterfalls

Akame 48 Waterfalls in Mie Prefecture is home to endless waterfalls lining a four kilometre stretch along Akame Valley. The walk takes around 4 hours to complete and allows visitors to immerse themselves amongst the serenity of the falls. The waterfalls are considered one of Mie’s hidden natural wonders, with the forested Akame Valley holding a historic past as a training ground for ninjas between the 15th and 18th centuries.

Every season Akame 48 Waterfalls greets visitors with new scenery.  In spring, cherry blossoms come into bloom, while in autumn the changing colour of the forest leaves see it painted in red and brown hues. In the summertime, the valley is a luscious green, and in winter visitors may be rewarded with frozen waterfalls and icy outlooks.

The falls can be reached with the Kintetsu Railway by alighting at Akameguchi Station and a 10-minute bus ride.

2. Find endless fields of flowers at Menard Aoyama Resort Herb Garden

Nestled in a national park in Mie Prefecture’s west is Menard Aoyama Resort. The resort houses an eight-hectare herb garden that is home to 300 different varieties of herbs and flowers including lavender and camomile.

In mid-June more than 30,000 lavender plants come into bloom, blanketing the resort’s garden in a mesmerising pastel purple. After enjoying the endless fields of flowers, a quintessential Japanese summertime activity, visitors can treat themselves to a lavender soft serve ice-cream made with lavender fresh from the herb garden.

Menard Aoyama Resort can be accessed from Kintetsu Railway’s Iga-Kambe station, with a transfer on a free shuttle bus (reservation required).

3. Explore cedar forests and ancient structures at Murouji Temple 

Murouji Temple stands on Mt. Muro on the border of Nara and Mie Prefectures. The temple is hidden in an almost magical cedar forest which covers the surrounding mountain area.

Murouji Temple is known for being home to the smallest five-story pagoda in Japan, which is just 16 metres high and smaller than 3 metres wide. The most photogenic times to visit the pagoda is in the autumn when it is surrounded by blazing leaves and in early summer when it is perfectly framed by azaleas and rhododendrons.

Get to Murouji Temple from Kintetsu Muroguchi-Ono Station, followed by a bus bound for Murouji-mae, alighting at the last stop.

4. Discover the Japanese countryside at Soni Village Highlands 

Soni Village Highlands offers a rare outlook of expansive green fields reminiscent of the old Japanese countryside. The almost never-ending grassland is covered with Japanese pampas grass, which was traditionally used as roofing material in early Japanese houses.

The grassy fields offer easy hiking courses, giving way to amazing views, especially at sunset when the glowing sun above the pampas grass dyes the fields gold.

After a day of hiking, visitors can soothe their muscles with a relaxing hot spring soak at Okame-no-yu Onsen which offers panoramic mountain views as you bathe.

Access Soni Highland from Nabari Station using the Kintetsu Railway line. During peak season a bus will take you to the highlands from the station, but it is recommended to access the area by car if you wish to experience the sunset views and explore the surrounding village after dark as buses stop mid-afternoon.

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