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Tonomine Highlands 

Today we're heading to one of Japan's most unique landscapes, Tonomine Highlands in Hyogo Prefecture. The main attraction of the highlands is the beautiful rolling hills that are thickly covered with Japanese pampas grass (susuki), as it's called in Japanese. 

The silky white flower of the grass blooms in autumn, creating an ethereal glow over the landscape.

Stunning Landscape

If you said it felt like stepping into a movie, you wouldn't be wrong. The magical landscape of Tonomine Highlands has piqued the interest of some filmmakers in Japan. Most notably, the film adaptation of Haruki Murakami's, Norwegian Wood, features two prominent scenes filmed at the highlands. 

With each season, the hills at Tonomine take on a different appearance. Autumn is the most popular time to visit, as the silver flowering pampas grass glitters beautifully in the sunshine. In winter, the area is inaccessible as the roads close due to high snowfall. When the hills come alive again in the spring, there is a spectacular fire show. Locals set the highland ablaze to encourage new growth, leaving a sea of blackened landscape in their wake. In the summer, after the new grass grows, the hills are blanketed with thick green grass. 

Epic scenery of the Tonomine highlands

Epic scenery of the Tonomine highlands

Grab your hiking boots...

There are several different walking trails through the hills, including one that loops around the highlands. They are all quite gentle, so you don’t need to worry about having hiking gear with you. Get lost wandering along the maze-like boardwalks, as the grass towers above your head. The trails cross over iridescent marshes, adding to the already other-worldly atmosphere.

Hiking trails are stunning around the Tonomine Highlands

Hiking trails are stunning around the Tonomine Highlands

Plush lush rich green grass looks makes the landscape look movie-like

Plush lush rich green grass looks makes the landscape look movie-like

Perfect to run your fingers through to re-enact the Gladiator movie scene. Maximus Decimus Meridius come on!!

Perfect to run your fingers through to re-enact the Gladiator movie scene. Maximus Decimus Meridius come on!!

A tad tired after all the walking? 

After exploring, head into the whimsical wooden lodge visitors centre. There you can grab some local omiyage (souvenirs), and get a bite to eat. Enjoy a hot bowl of udon from the restaurant while gazing over the enchanting landscape. During autumn there’s often small food stalls selling Japnese street food such as takoyaki and hot roasted sweet potato. 

The best way to get here is by car, it's about 20 minutes drive from Kamikawa-Cho. Alternatively, there is a shuttle bus that runs from Teramae Station during the peak season. This year peak dates are from October 12 to November 10. Buses depart Teramae station at 9:40 am and 12:00 pm. The return bus departs Tonomine Highlands at 1:50 pm and 3:35 pm. A return ticket is ¥1800 and reservations are required by telephone at least 3 days in advance, so find a Japanese speaker to help you out. 

Lord Of The Rings / Game Of Thrones esque scenery

Lord Of The Rings / Game Of Thrones esque scenery

The grass is just too nice not to take photos of!

The grass is just too nice not to take photos of!

Know before you go:

The visitors' centre is open Tuesday to Sunday 9:00 to 5:00. 

To make a reservation for the bus, call: 0790-34-1001

Check this flyer (Japanese) for more information on the bus:

https://www.kamikawa-navi.jp/wppro/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/20190809113352.pdf

Kansai Local are doing private tours and adventures to places that tourists don't know about. If this sounds awesome, get in touch with us and we will get back to you! 

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