The Saigokukaido Road that runs from the old capital to the Sanyodo Road and through the northern part of Osaka was once populated by powerful clans and shrines. This area, also known as Hokusetsu, includes the cities of Toyonaka, Ikeda, and Minoh, with its European-style luxury houses, as well as Suita and Ibaraki, which developed along with the influences of the 1970 World Expo. These towns are enveloped in a calm atmosphere, laden with the touch of nature and the colors of their history.
Be sure to see the Tower of the Sun
Gazing into the southern sky with its face of glittering gold, the Tower of the Sun has a commanding presence. This piece of art was built in 1970 by Taro Okamoto as a symbol of the World Expo that was exciting the entire country. At its feet are the 2.6 million square meters of Expo Park. This includes a Japanese Garden and the Natural and Cultural Gardens where you can enjoy year-round greenery, as well as the National Museum of Ethnology where you can learn about cultures from all over the world. There is easily enough to entertain you here for a whole day.
Enjoy Osaka's nature
Only an hour away from bustling Osaka City you can step into deep nature. Settsukyo Gorge is a valley only a slight distance away from a residential area near the mountains, but the stream there is so clear that it attracts fireflies in the summer. Said to have been loved by Imperial family member Taikou for its lush greenery and colorful autumn leaves, the Meiji-no-Mori Mino Quasi-National Park (Mino Waterfall) is a place of abundant water, with a waterfall and hot springs. Here you can stroll up a forested path up to a beautiful waterfall past vendors selling treats like deep-fried red maple leaves and grilled fish.
Introducing some tasty secrets
In the north of Osaka sits Mount Tennou, famous for a battle involving Akechi Mitsuhide. This area is the source of Kansai's most renowned well water, Rikyu-no-mizu, which springs forth from the royal villa of Emperor Go-Toba. And thanks to the benefits of this water, the region produces world-class whiskey and beer. At the Suntory Yamazaki Distillery, you can observe the manufacturing process, and taste freshly-finished whiskey. Also recommended is the Asahi Beer factory.
Another site in this area which cannot be left out is the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum, which celebrates the Osaka-born inventor of instant ramen. In addition to viewing the history of this globally-recognized product, you can even make your very own original cup noodles.
Nosekaido and Hokusetsu's history
During the Edo period, the Nosekaido Road went from Osaka, through Ikeda, to Tanba and Kameoka. It served as a transport route for chestnuts, rice, charcoal and precious metals from Nose, Kawanishi and Tanba, as well as sake and clothing from Ikeda. Ikeda was an important point along that road and even now you can see the ruins of the Ikeda Castle and the ancient layout of the town. At the Joruri Theater in Nose, you can attend performances of gidayu, a form of traditional Japanese narrative music sung to the accompaniment of a shamisen that originated in Osaka. Enjoy a pleasant stroll to visit popular sites such as Katsuoji Temple in Minoh where you can offer a prayer for victory, or Mt. Myouken in Nose for good fortune.