箕面

Minoh is a small city (population 120,000) in northern Osaka Prefecture, Japan. There are a variety of ways to romanize its name: it is actually spelled Mi no o in hiragana, and is sometimes spelled "Mino," "Minoo," "Mino-o," or "Mino'o" in English. According to Google, "Mino" is the most common romanization of the name, but "Minoh" is the name officially used by the city's website ( www.city.minoh.osaka.jp ), and thus it is the name I use here.

This unorthodox name literally means "winnowing face," and is said to be derived from Chinese poetry describing Minoh's famed waterfalls. During the Nara era, Minoh was considered a holy site for Japanese Buddhism, and two major temples were founded there: Minohji (founded 652) and Katsuoji.

The Saigoku Road was later built through Minoh, and so the city became strategically important as well. Its most famous native was Kayano Sanpei, a samurai who also wrote haiku under the pseudonym "Kensen." Kayano served a lord named Asano Takuminokami, who got into trouble with the Edo bakufu in 1701, and was told to commit seppuku. The trouble stemmed from a fight Asano had with Kira Kozukenosuke, and so Asano's followers became the 47 Ronin and went off to kill Kira. Rather than join them, Kayano decided to slash his own belly open, in order to serve his master without becoming a ronin: many people saw this as a feat of great heroism, and today Kayano's home in Minoh is a museum and study center.

Another cool thing to see in Minoh is Meiji no Mori Quasi-National Park, more commonly known as Minoh Park. It is Japan's oldest national park, founded in 1871 on the grounds of Minohji. In 1910, a zoo opened there, and Hankyu opened a railway line from Minoh to Umeda. Minoh became especially famous for its wild monkeys, which were released from captivity in 1977 and now roam freely in the trees, necessitating monkey alarms in the bathrooms. Some 1.4 million people visit Minoh Park every year.

The other notable fact about Minoh is that it houses a campus of the prestigious Osaka University.

Minoh's neighbors are Ikeda to the west, Nose to the north, Ibaraki to the east, and Toyonaka and Suita to the south. It can be accessed via the Hankyu line: board a train in Umeda bound for Takarazuka, and change trains at Ishibashi. There is also scheduled bus service from Senri and other nearby cities.

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