A weekend in Ako

Today I’d like to introduce you to Ako – the home of beautiful hot springs, historical relics, and salty, salty ramen.

Ako is a quaint little town at the southwestern edge of Hyogo Prefecture, an hour and 15 minutes west from Kobe by train. Ako’s peaceful atmosphere makes it perfect for a quiet weekend getaway.

Ako is located on a scenic little bump of land that juts out into the Seto Inland Sea. This gives it its biggest attraction for me – Shokichi Onsen, a hot springs inn located right on the end of the peninsula. You get a nice ocean view from the guest rooms, but the real treat is a dip in one of their outdoor baths that looks directly out onto the water. It’s just you, the Seto Inland Sea, and the dim shadows of islands on the other side.

There are a variety of room types to choose from, including Western-style rooms for those who would prefer not to sleep on the floor. There are also “Western-Japanese” rooms with Western-style beds but a Japanese atmosphere. Some of the guest rooms come with a private outdoor bath.

Dinner features seafood delicacies from the Seto Inland Sea. First, some very fresh sashimi:

Next, check out this do-it-yourself hotpot. Just slide the ingredients into a bubbling pot of boiling water for deliciousness!

After a good night’s sleep and an early morning dip in the baths, look forward to the full Japanese-style breakfast – sometimes intimidating for Westerners, but worth a try.

Fish is the main course:

Hot and fluffy tofu:

Of course, it wouldn’t be breakfast without miso soup!

The second day is a good opportunity to see some of the historical sights while you’re in town.

The first is Ako Castle, a smallish castle but remarkably well-preserved. Ako Castle was built in 1615 and plays an important role in the samurai tale Chushingura.

Ako Castle 1

SONY DSC

Next, history buffs will want to visit Oishi Jinja, where the 47 Ronin of Chushingura fame are enshrined. The 47 Ronin’s quest to avenge their fallen master is the most famous and beloved samurai story of all time.

Every single ronin has his own statue.

Tip: the town of Ako is also famous for its salt, and its local specialty is salty ramen with a clear broth. Try picking up a ramen map at the train station and wandering into one of the numerous ramen joints for lunch!

Enjoy your weekend in Ako!

Shokichi Onsen
Hours:
Check-in: 15:00. Check-out: 10:00.
Address: Ako Onsen Shiosai-Kirara Syokichi
2-8 Misaki, Ako City, Hyogo Prefecture 678-0215
Telephone: 0791-43-7600
Fax: 0791-42-1241
E-mail: ako-shokichi@nifty.com
Website: http://www.ako-syokichi.com/foreign/index_english.html (English)

How To Get There

Shokichi Onsen
From Sannomiya: Take the JR Special Rapid Service west to Banshu-Ako Station (72 minutes). From the station, take the Shinki Bus to Misaki bus stop (15 minutes), or call the hotel in advance to reserve a shuttle bus.

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