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PARTNER CONTENT FOR WEST JAPAN RAILWAY COMPANY


Kansai-Hiroshima Area Pass Famed for its fantastic street food, friendly nature and electric nightlife, Osaka is where your journey begins. You’ll arrive from Kansai Airport into the enormous JR Osaka Station in the heart of the city. From here, you can see the robot-like 558ft-tall Umeda Sky Building, which has a circular observation deck on the 39th floor, offering eye-popping views of western Osaka’s skyscrapers and the meandering Yodo River. After getting your bearings, fuel up on some of Osaka’s sensational street food. Lit up like a jukebox and packed with stalls, restaurants and cafes, the canal-side Dotonbori is a favourite place to fill up on kani (crab), fugu (pufferfish), and crunchy- squishy takoyaki (batter balls typically filled with octopus). End the night with some late-night shopping and drinking in the Souemoncho party zone. While Osaka is a modern metropolis, it


has a key historic building that’s not to be missed: Osaka Castle, an elegant pearl- white fortress dating back to 1583, set in a 106-acre plum tree park. Its beauty is only rivalled by that of the hilltop Himeji Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located 30 minutes on the Hikari line from Osaka-shin Station — an outing which teams perfectly with a tour of the dreamy Edo-period gardens of Okayama. Then there’s Kobe, just 15 minutes from


Shin-Osaka station by Shinkansen. Perched between the Rokko mountains and Osaka Bay, it’s considered one of Japan’s most attractive cities, as well as the producer of its best beef. Take a historic cable car to the city’s highest peak for views of the Seto Inland Sea and islands; dip in the Arima Onsen hot springs, the oldest in the country; tuck into a top-quality beef burger folded over rice and topped with a fried egg; and visit the emotive Kobe Earthquake Memorial Museum, which commemorates the Great Hanshin-Awaji disaster of 1995. The following day, take the Sanyo


Shinkansen line 90 minutes west, passing the Chugoku Mountains, and into the ruggedly beautiful Chugoku region. Hiroshima, the biggest city in the area, features wide boulevards, six beautiful rivers, a range of galleries and a buzzing food scene. It also, of course, has a tragic past, having been the first city in history to suffer a nuclear attack. Spend the morning learning about the immediate and long- term impact the A-bomb had upon the city with visits to the Atomic Bomb Dome, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park,


ABOVE: Canal Boat in Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter RIGHT: Sagano Romantic Train, Kyoto PREVIOUS PAGE: Tea house interior at Kenrokuen Gardens, Kanazawa


the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for Atomic Bomb Victims and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. Follow with an afternoon river cruise and an evening sampling the local treat okonomiyaki (a fat, savoury pancake stuffed with some variation of meat, seafood, vegetables and shredded cabbage). From Hiroshima Station, it’s also just a


25-minute rail journey to Miyajimaguchi Station, where you can catch a ferry to the temple-studded island of Miyajima; both the train and ferry are covered by the JR West Pass. Miyajima, considered one of the three most scenic spots in Japan, is home to the 1,400-year-old Itsukushima Shinto Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From here, head to Kintai Bridge, one of the country’s most iconic landmarks.


Take a historic cable car to the city’s highest peak for views of the Seto Inland Sea, or go for dip in the Arima Onsen hot springs


IMAGES: OKAYAMA PREFECTURAL TOURISM FEDERATION; GETTY


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