About 2 hours by car from Osaka or 3 hours from Nagoya, in the north-east part of Nara prefecture is Soni village, a rich natural village which is part of Muro-Akame-Aoyama Quasi-national Park. Soni highland stretches there with its golden grass plains which resemble the final scene in the popular anime move “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind”. In the autumn the place is a popular touristic spot. I will introduce some fascinating spots in Soni highland.
Start your happy journey with soft rice flour bread
Hold your excitement and buy bread from “Okome no Yakata”. Eating this bread while you enjoy the view from the highland is an experience of its own. The bread is always fresh, soft, made from rice flour and pleasant to eat. Alternatively, you can have “onigiri bread” which is ideal for hiking, or the “spinach bread” which won a prize as a popular prefectural souvenir. If you go the bakery after hiking, they will be sold out! Therefore make a brief stop early. You can also book in advance on the phone to be sure to get the popular bread rolls that are usually limited in numbers.
Soni highland’s “Okome no Yakata” Address: Nara, Uda-gun, Soni-son, Taroji 837 Phone: 0745-96-2888 Open: 10:30~15:30 (closed after sold out) Closed: Wednesday (except if a public holiday, then closed the following day), New Year’s vacation
In the autumn Soni highland becomes a golden plain!
Soni highland is famous for the Japanese pampas grass that grows abundantly on the 900-meter high Mount Kuroso and Mount Kame. The green carpet in spring is also fascinating, but the most popular time to visit is between early October and late November when the grains appear.
In the bright autumn days the silver grass sways in the wind and creates a beautiful view. The best time to see is about 30 minutes before the sunset. The light of the setting sun paints the grass gold and invites the viewer into a magical world. There are also hiking trails in Soni highland. The best way to enjoy the place is to walk amidst the silver pampas grass and return for the golden picture at the end of the day. For more information and maps of the hiking trails, please check the link below to Soni highland’s pampas grass.
Watching the splendid Mount Kabutodake and Mount Yoroidake from the open-air hot spring known as "the beauty hot spring"
Soni highland’s “Okame no yu” hot spring is named after Mount Kame and the Kame Pond from a popular legend. There are two open-air baths - the wooden and the stone - which are gender separated and the gender allocation changes weekly. From the wooden bath one can enjoy the beautiful view of the natural monuments Mount Yoroidake and Mount Kabutodake, while from the stone bath one can see the wide panorama of Soni highland. The onsen is rich in sodium bicarbonate, therefore believed to help for making one’s skin beautiful. You can relax after hiking and refresh your body and soul.
Soni highland’s “Okame no yu” hot spring Address: Nara, Uda-gun, Soni-son, Oji-Taroji 830 Phone: 0745-98-2615 Open: 11:00-21:00 (until 20:30 from November till March) Acceptance until 20:00 (until 19:30 from November till March) Closed: Wednesday (except if a public holiday, then closed the following day), New Year’s vacation Natrium bicarbonate hot spring For more information, please check the link below to “Okame no yu”.
The golden beer directly related to Braumeister in which the yeast is still fresh
A few steps down the road from “Okame no yu” is “Susuki no Yakata”. This is the place to satisfy your thirst with a beer at the end of your trip. The beer sold here is directly related to Germany’s Braumeister. It uses Soni highland water, included in the selection of 100 rivers and springs known for their notable qualities (Meisui Hyakusen), and carefully selected malt. Served unfiltered together with still live beer yeast, this beer makes the visitor extremely happy. Enjoy whichever brand you like: Alt, Kolsch, Pilsener! If you could not drink because of driving, enjoy the beer later at home. There is a shop where you can buy not only the three brands from the restaurant, but also special seasonal beer.
Soni highland’s “Susuki no Yakata” Address: Nara, Uda-gun, Soni-son, Taroji 839 Phone: 0745-96-2888 Open: 10:00~6:00 (varies by the season; shorter in the winter) Closed: Wednesday (except if a public holiday, then closed the following day)
For more details, please check the link below to “Susuki no Yakata” and “Mugi no Yakata”.
Great scenery, hot spring, delicious food and beer. Soni highland has it all
All of the facilities I introduced here are about 40-minutes’ walk from Soni highland, making them easy to access touristic spots in Soni village. Do not miss the view of Japan’s plains in what can be described as “the most beautiful village in the country”.
Note: With a car it takes about 5 minutes from Soni highland to the facilities.
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