Two of the most wonderful places within a couple of hours drive that offer both a small nest-egg of beauty as well as reasonably dark skies for deep sky astronomy are Takirenzan in Sasayama-shi, Hyogo Prefecture and Oeyama in Fukuchiyama, Kyoto Prefecture.
Takirenzan is a hilltop lookout park found on Prefectural Route 304 heading north from National Route 372 which connects Kameoka with Himeji. There are acceptably dark skies, plenty of walking trails, a managed forest to walk through, a public restroom, a public barbecue area and more parking than is ever needed. Although you will certainly have privacy issues, it would be a lovely place to go camping as well.
Oeyama, a hilltop shrine, research station and educational facility is found on Prefectural Route 9, heading north from National Route 175 out of Oe-cho toward Miyazu. This is a lovely place in any season and can be mixed with a trip to Amanohashidate or even an overnight trip to Ine-cho up on the Tango-hanto. For the astronomer, Oeyama is a required destination as it has the darkest sky in Kansai after the peaks in the deep South of Nara Prefecture and to help out we organize 4 star parties there each year for astronomers from Kyoto, Osaka and Hyogo Prefectures. If you have a telescope with at least 15cm of aperture, you will appreciate Oeyama for its incredible sky transparency, particularly in the summer months when the 900m elevation site offers a respite from the summer heat while the Summer Milky Way seems so close you can pull it out of the sky with your hands. If you are fortunate enough to have access to a telescope of at least 40cm of aperture, you will be so busy to forget all about the insects attacking you from all angles all night long!
Enjoy and drive safely!
Martin Werner Zander, Smith’s Partner
Owner, Smith’s School of English Kotoen Nigawa Sakasegawa Nishinomiya
月謝制のスミス英会話 甲東園 校 仁川 校 逆瀬川 西宮市