Our cherry blossoms may have been here in an instant, gone with a flash, but if you missed out on Yabu’s thousand-year-old sakura blooms, you can still get your ancient (but still going strong) flora on in the Yamasaki (Shiso) area early in May. Shiso’s thousand-year-old wisteria is a beautiful sight to behold.
Typically, the fuji (wisteria) blossoms come out en force about the same time as Golden Week, so anyone who doesn’t have plans to be in Korea or the Philippines can take in their beautiful colors and heady perfumes. Some famous places include Nara’s Kasuga Taisha Grand Shrine, but more relaxing travels may involve biking to your local park (so many parks have a little fuji lattice!) and sitting under the small arbor watching the bees buzz from purple flower to purple flower.
May 26-27th, Aioi will be having its 90th Peron Festival. Peron is an all-weekend event, boasting some excellent fireworks. You can see the hanabi out over the water from 7:50 to 8:50 on the 26th, Saturday night. The main event is a series of boat races, taking place on Sunday from about 8:30 am to 4:30 in the afternoon. Between 10 and 3 there will also be some dance performances, music, and other presentations. Of course there is also the beautiful weather, good company, beer, meat on sticks, and other fun festival things—the whole city smells like BBQ and sounds like fun. Since this is the 90th anniversary, they’re going to do it bigger and better than in past years! Check out our past article on Peron for more info and a link to the city’s Peron page.
To get to Shiso, take the 31, 32, 33, or 41 bus from Himeji. This link can help you search for times at the stops: http://navi.shinkibus.jp/snk/unkoh . The departing place (blue) you want is 姫路駅（北口）, and the arrival place (green) is山崎.
If coming from Osaka or Kobe there are more direct buses. From OSAKA take a bus bound for Tsuyama (津山) and get off at Yamasaki interstop (山崎インター ..schedule is here http://www.shinkibus.co.jp/hw/tsuyama_osaka.html). From KOBE there is a bus direct to the Yamasaki bus terminal (http://www.shinkibus.co.jp/hw/kobe_yamasaki.html), from where you can easily walk to the shrine with the wisteria, or take another bus to Imajuku (今宿). You are looking for the 大歳神社「千年藤」（ださいじんじゃせんねんふじ）or “Dasai-jinja, sen-nen fuji.”
Here are some photos: http://yaccyann.maxs.jp/sennenfuji/
For walking directions, use this map: http://g.co/maps/fnskw, or this address: 〒671-2571 兵庫県宍粟市山崎町上寺122. If you drive, park at the Yamasaki michi-no-eki on rte 29 and walk up the street.
To get to Aioi (相生), take the JR line to Aioi station, just to the west of Himeji. The boat races happen down by the port ( 相生湾特設会場).
Here is a map of buses to and around both Yamasaki and Aioi: http://www.shinkibus.co.jp/rsn/pdf/westshinki.pdf
In both cases, follow the crowds and/or direction of helpful uniformed dudes directing traffic.