Izushi is a 30 minute bus ride from Kinosaki. It's another small town dubbed "little Kyoto", complete with a canal, a dozen or so shrines, wooden houses and shops selling Japanese snacks and wares. To the south, there is a small hill with a path lined with flaming orange torii gates that lead to an aged, half-demolished castle, from which one can get a gorgeous view of the town and surrounding rice fields. Thick redwood-like trees abound, and there is the constant bird-calls of
hawks black kites (see edit) that circle above.
Izushi's main fame is soba, noodles made from buckwheat. There are many restaurants specialising in soba; one could be forgiven for thinking it's all there is here. I spent only a few hours in the town, but would love to return another season.