Last Sunday I decided to embark on an epic day trip to Akashi 明石, which is the closest city west of Kobe (around 20km), to see the ruins of Akashi Castle 明石城 and check out the town.
As I have become quite the avid cycler, of course I undertook the trip via bike.
Since I live in Gakuentoshi which is a western suburb of Kobe the round trip was only about 25km or so with sightseeing stops which was nothing major for my iron buttocks 😄
My first stop was Akashikoen 明石公園, the center of which stands the ruins of Akashi Castle 明石城.
This castle was constructed by Ogasawara Tadazane as his own castle from 1617 to 1619 to watch over the western lords.
The castle was built in Akashi, which was an important strategic point between Osaka and western Japan, where many major tozama daimyo had their feudal estates. Akashi Castle was expected to play the role of a key staging point to stop a hypothetical invasion of Osaka.
The castle was deconstructed by the Meiji Government in 1874, however two yagura 櫓 (watchtowers) and a small portion of wall still remain standing today.
This monk statue and partial moat stand at the entrance to the former castle.
Here’s a picture of yours truly hott and sweaty after riding a good 10km, taken the style of a 15 yr old girl in front of the castle ruins.
The park itself is also very scenic and pretty, although filled with steep slopes and steps was a great cross country bike ride, thank god I have a mountain bike!
This little tea house is used for sadou 茶道 (tea ceremony), however as they weren’t running on that Sunday there were a couple ojii-chans chilling under its balcony enjoying the shade.
Finally there was this awesome robotic taiko drummer who switched between drumming and doing a fan dance.
Such plentiful adventures began to take their toll on my stamina, so I headed out of Akashikoen towards Akashi Station 明石駅 in search of edibles.
What I stumbled upon was an awesome Tako themed shopping arcade called Uontana 魚の棚 (literally: fish-shelf) where local fishermen sell seafood (primarily tako) that was caught nearby. As I have quite the affinity for anything tako related (hence my name) I was certainly in my element ＼(^o^)／
The specialty of Akashi is a Akashiyaki 明石たこ焼き a variety of Takoyaki たこ焼き (octopus filled dumplings). When I came across this shop, it seemed criminal not to stop for some in the city that is famous for it!! Especially since they were a bargain at only 480¥ for 15 pieces!! Nomnomnom （＾∇＾）
Although similar, akashiyaki contains a higher amount of eggs resulting in a texture softer texture than takoyaki. They are eaten by first brushing them with Takoyaki sauce (similar to Worcestershire sauce) before being
and will be dipped into a broth of dashi出汁.
When visiting Akashi however if would like to order a round of Akashiyaki, keep in mind locals refer to it simply as tamagoyaki 玉子焼き (grilled egg).
Here are a couple more pictures of sights around Akashi city, it’s crazy how Japan can change straight from urban sprawl to harbor at an instant. I knew the ocean was nearby soon as I entered the city since there was a subtle saltiness to the air. The last photo however I found quite comical, I was nothing short of amazed watching families relaxing on the seashore at a beach that was completely covered in cement!
The Japanese seem to have an affinity for covering most of their coastline in asphalt.
Before heading off home however I did make my way to a real beach (as real as beaches get in Japan at least XD).
Maiko beach is quite nice as it overlooks Akashi-Kaikyō Bridge 明石海峡大橋 (also known as Pearl Bridge), the worlds longest suspension bridge. Despite the crowds and visible cargo ships on the horizon, it really was the perfect place to relax with a beer before embarking on the epic bike ride to return home :).