If you have already planned a visit to Himeji, why not stopping by at Akashi before getting back to Osaka or Kobe?
Easily reachable by train from Himeji (and from Kobe as well), Akashi is a small and quiet town, perfect to spend a relaxing afternoon with your partner.
The first stop that I recommend is Akashi castle, which is located right in front of Akashi station. Walk along the beautiful moat with swans, ducks and carps that you’ll see in front of you and enter the park that surrounds Akashi castle. Despite its name, not much remains of the castle itself: it was demolished in 1874 but it’s still possible to see two “yagura” (towers) and their connecting wall. The towers are open on weekends from 10.00 to 16.00 and there is no entrance fee to pay so, why don’t you enjoy the beautiful view from the top? You can take some beautiful shots from up there! The castle is surrounded by a wide and beautiful park (Akashi Park) that was opened exactly 100 years ago (1918). This park is ideal for a romantic walk , a bicycle ride or a picnic with your lover. You’ll be amazed at how peaceful it is!
Inside the park there’s also a baseball stadium where, every now and then, you can watch a high school baseball match for free. One of the main attraction is the big pond inside the park: this is a popular place during cherry blossom season, having been selected as one of “Japan’s top 100 cherry blossom viewing sites”. If you want to make your date even more romantic it’s also possible to rent a paddle boat to enjoy the beautiful view from the pond!
The second place that you don’t want to miss is Akashi Municipal Planetarium. This museum is located exactly on the Japan Standard Time Meridian, at 135° east longitude. You can have fun with your partner exploring the permanent exhibitions on the third and fourth floors or visit the Planetarium Dome, on the second floor. The access to the Planetarium Dome is already included in the admission ticket so you won’t need to pay any extra charge, and you’ll be asked at the entrance wether you want to see the planetarium show. I recommend you take advantage of this (romantic) opportunity: explore the wonders of the night sky, go to distant galaxies or land on Mars while holding the hand of your loved one.
After the show, head to the 13th floor where the observation decks are located: from here you can enjoy a 360° view of Akashi city, including Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge, the longest suspended bridge of the world!
The view from here is breathtaking, especially at sunset!
After all the exploring you may start feeling hungry. It’s time to go looking for some local specialties. Akashi is known for its delicious seafood, especially octopus. it’s not a surprise that the main specialty here is “Akashiyaki”, that in Akashi area are often referred to as “Tamagoyaki”. Akashiyaki are the local cousins of the more famous “Takoyaki”, fluffy balls of egg batter filled with octopus and then fried and eaten with sauce. The difference is that, in the case of Akashiyaki, the batter is made with extra egg and they’re usually enjoyed with dashi broth. Akashiyaki are usually served on top of a slanted wooden tray whose price generally ranges from 500 to 700yen for 15 pieces.
To get them, we’ll walk back towards the station and head to the “Uo-no-tana” shopping arcade. This is a 350-meter-long shopping street, with more than 100 shops, including kimono stores, tea shops and many Akashiyaki restaurants.
To end up your date, what about a romantic walk along the sea? Head back to the station and take the train bound to Maibara. Get off at Maiko station (only 4 minutes from Akashi) and enjoy the wonderful view of Akashi-Kaikyou Bridge that, with its 3911 meters, is the longest suspension bridge in the world.
At night the bridge is lighten up and its colors will amaze you!
Walking hand in hand with your partner while looking at the beautiful view under the starry sky will definitely be the perfect end to your date!