It’s finally starting to cool down in Japan, so we’re able to go on more adventures and be comfortable. We can even wear pants without sweating like crazy…
Today we headed out on another countryside adventure. I had been wanting to go see some castle ruins for some time, so on this adventure we decided to go and see the Izushi Castle ruins in Toyooka.
It was a 2 1/2 hour drive from our place, so once we arrived there we were already hungry. The road into the main car parks of the town are quite narrow, so we were happy to be in a little kei car. We were lucky and got a spot right next to the information centre. From there we proceeded into town.
Soba noodles are famous in Izushi, with more than 50 soba restaurants around. They’re served on little white plates, and come with some condiments and the soup stock (fish and kelp) the noodles are cooked in. If you’re still hungry after the first 5, you can order more one by one.
Needless to say they were really delicious. I didn’t really appreciate noodles before moving to Japan, but after coming here I can safely say they’ve become a favourite of mine.
The Shinkoro clock tower is one of the earliest clock towers in all of Japan, dating back to 1871. It sits at the main entrance of Izushi town from the parking areas, and just below it is a large pond with some of the biggest Koi fish I have ever seen.
After lunch it was time to visit the castle ruins. There are many entrances to get inside the castle walls. We elected to go the main entrance, but to the left of it there is a striking red bridge that leads across the river moat. This Torii path leads up to the Arikoyama Inari shrine, which we visited after.
It’s difficult to find reliable information about Izushi Castle. There are a lot of conflicting information about the the year it was built, and how. But by the best accounts it was built in 1604 by Koide Yoshihide, after the Arikoyama castle was destroyed in the turbulent times prior.
There is no main keep at the castle, but the top level of the castle is said to have housed the lords palace. Now only the towers and walls remain. Inside the courtyard there is a shinto shrine and a pond.
Further up the torii path, which is compromised of 37 torii gates and 157 stone steps, sits the Arikoyama Inari shrine. If you’re wanting a decent view of Izushi without climbing to the top of Mt. Ariko, this is the place to go.
After we walked back down the torii path, we went and saw the Morosugi Shrine, and then walked back into town to do some souvenir shopping. Making sure we picked up some delicious soba noodles of course!
The day was still young, so we decided to drive to the top of Toyooka and enjoy the views of the Sea of Japan.
It was a windy day, and we couldn’t bear to stay for long. So the rest of our adventure was spent checking out the beaches along the coast of Toyooka. Making early plans for next years summer.
Going to Izushi from Osaka without a car becomes a fairly difficult task. But if you’re looking for that Edo period charm without the extreme crowds of Kyoto, maybe this is the place. Apparently people call Izushi the “Little Kyoto”… but we heard that about Kanazawa in Fukui prefecture as well, so who knows.