The southern part of Osaka Prefecture along the sea is called Minami Senshu. The area has so many charming attractions that we'd almost like to keep them secret. There's a beech wood forest classified as a quasi-national park, hot springs, opportunities to experience commercial fishing and of course, Kansai International Airport. And don't forget the Danjiri Matsuri in early autumn, which is one of the most impressive festivals in Japan.
Enjoy the mountains in Minami Senshu
Mt Inunaki and the Izumi Katsuragisan Beech Forest lie on the border between Osaka and Wakayama prefectures. The beauty of the greenery and the valley surrounding the Inunaki River make this a popular hiking area. Inunakisan-Shipporyuji Temple, about halfway up Mount Inunaki, is well-known both for its display of autumn leaves and its mountain asceticism. In the winter, you may witness someone practicing spiritual austerities at one of the numerous waterfalls in the mountains. Near the mountain trailhead you can find Inunaki yama Hot Spring, a little-known hot spring of Osaka that's known as Izumisano's parlor.
Many hiking courses
Within Kongo-Ikoma-Kisen Quasi-National Park, near Horigo Dam on the border between Osaka and Wakayama prefectures, you can experience life in a mountain village at an Eco-Institute called Kisen Waiwaimura. Hiking-lovers will also be rewarded at Gin-no-mine Hiking Course in Yamanaka-dani, which boasts excellent cherry blossom viewing in spring and views all the way to Kansai International Airport. More great walking can be found at the Unzanpou Course nearby.
Enjoy the bounty of the ocean
Japan is famous for its exquisite seafood and at the Tajiri Ocean Community Center one can catch a glimpse into the fascinating world of how this bounty is harvested from the sea. Make a reservation and you'll soon be venturing out in Osaka Bay with a fisherman who will teach you how to can squid, flounder, crab, octopus, eel, sea bream and more. After you've hauled in your goods, return to port to enjoy the catch on the barbecue. And to experience the famous Japanese fish market, check out the Izumisano Fisheries Cooperative Open-Air Fish Market. Apparently the best time to go is at 2:30 in the afternoon, just after the fishing is finished and when the seafood is at its freshest.
Senshu Bay Area
Kansai International Airport, Osaka's gateway to the world, floats across 5 kilometers of the ocean in Senshu. Watching the planes take off and land from the viewing hall has quite an impact. We also recommend the beaches on the opposite shore, including Nishikinohama Beach Park, chosen as one of the 100 most beautiful beaches in Japan; Tokimeki Beach (Tannowa Bathing Beach), famous for its gorgeous sunsets; Rinku Minamihama Bathing Beach (Southern Beach), where you can watch the airplanes come and go from Kansai Airport as you swim; and popular swimming destination Pichipichi Beach (Hakotsukuri Beach).
Don't miss Danjiri Matsuri!
Kishiwada Danjiri Festival, one of the hallmark festivals of Osaka, carries on a 300-year-old tradition. Twenty-one portable shrines weighing four tons each are carried through the town from Kishiki Shrine at Kishiwada Castle in a stirring and heroic display. The Kishiwada Danjiri Kaikan offers a simulated experience of carrying a life-sized shrine. But this tradition isn't limited to just Kishiwada; shrines are brought out for autumn festivals throughout the Senshu area.