Road Trip on Dosan Line (Part 1)
This week, we take a two-day trip on the JR Dosan Line, which runs across the three prefectures of Kochi, Tokushima and Kagawa in Shikoku. The JR Dosan Line was first opened as the Sanuki Railway in 1889.
This week, we take a two-day trip on the JR Dosan Line, which runs across the three prefectures of Kochi, Tokushima and Kagawa in Shikoku. The JR Dosan Line was first opened as the Sanuki Railway in 1889. It was later nationalised and in 1951, the whole line was opened, up to Kubokawa Station in Kochi Prefecture. We will however travel from Kochi Station in Kochi Prefecture, pass through Tokushima Prefecture and end at Kagawa Prefecture's Tadotsu Station, covering a distance 126.6km through 34 stations.
We hop on the 8.30am train at Kochi Station and head to Gomen Station, five stops ahead. The ride lasts 15 minutes and we have about an hour to roam around the area. We visit a clock shop along the shopping street. Opened in 1958, it has several types of clocks such as pendulum clocks, wind-up clocks and mechanical clocks. On the second floor, there is the Nakamura Clock Museum, with an entrance fee of 300 yen. It opened in 1998 and has several clocks on display, from nostalgic wall clocks to foreign antique clocks. The shop’s owners have collected over 2,000 clocks. Besides clocks they purchased themselves, some of the clocks were given to them as gifts. The oldest clock in their collection is a wind-up pocket watch from England, dating back to 1850.
The work of the shop’s current owner, Takuya, requires precise craftsmanship. He is a licensed top-grade clock repair technician and due to his reputed skills, he receives requests for repairs from all over the country.
Next, we take the train to Tosa-Yamada Station, which is three stops away. We ask about recommended spots on the train. A passenger tells us about a sake brewery, called Arisawa Sake Brewery, near the station. The brewery, which opened in 1877, produces nearly 30,000 bottles of sake each year. It uses Yamadanishiki rice and the underflow of the Monobegawa River to make the sake. A part of the brewery has been renovated to open a restaurant, where one can enjoy several types of sake. We get to taste a few varieties, such as the seasonally limited pure sake, which is aromatic and sweet, and the dry Junmai sake, which has bubbles in it.
Our next destination is Osugi Station, which is 40 minutes away by train. We arrive at noon and have three hours until our next train departs. A lady tells us about Yasaka Shrine, which has large cedar trees. The place is connected to Japanese singer Hibari Misora. She visited Kochi when she was nine and got into a bus accident near this place. She stayed in this area for a month to recover. That was when she prayed to a giant cedar tree here to become the top singer in Japan. Her songs later became huge hits and she became famous. That cedar tree is estimated to be about 3,000 years old, with a height of about 60m. It is considered a sacred tree to the locals and has also been designated as the country's Special Natural Monument. There is also a special monument dedicated to Hibari beside the shrine.
We want to have lunch so ask around for recommendations. A resident suggests we try the Goishicha tea and Tachikawa Soba at Kochi Prefecture’s first roadside station which opened in 1993. Goishicha is a special product passed down for over 400 years. After steaming, the leaves are placed in a barrel to ferment and then dried on straw mats. The fermented tea has a hint of sourness as it contains a lot of lactic acid. Tachikawa is a famous production area of soba since the Edo period. Tachikawa Soba is made of 10 per cent buckwheat noodle with no binding agents. It is known for its thickness and robust aroma. Grated ginger is added for flavouring.
We next travel north along Yoshinogawa River to Oboke Station. The train enters Tokushima Prefecture from Kochi Prefecture and we reach Oboke in about half an hour. The station is said to be the entrance to a “phantom village”. A local also tells us about a supermarket called Boke Mart which is popular among the locals.
We find out there are traditional inns and hotels here, one of which is called Sunriver Oboke. Located by a railway bridge, it even has railway-themed rooms. But we decide to go to a “phantom mansion” called Yokai House near the hotel. This area has many dangerous cliffs and narrow mountain paths. To discourage people from going to these areas, over 150 stories of “phantoms” have been told. They are said to be the spirits of people who died of starvation or dehydration in the mountains. Displayed at Yokai House are nearly 70 ghost figurines, all of which have been handmade by the locals.
We finally head to our accommodation for the night, Sunriver Oboke. Opened in 1980, it is a hot spring hotel surrounded by nature. Some of the rooms come with a view of the ravine and river. We can see the Yoshinogawa Bridge from our railway-themed room called Yashima.
1) Fans of antique and unique clocks should visit the Nakamura Clock Museum near Gomen Station
2) A giant cedar tree at Yasaka Shrine near Osugi Station has an interesting connection to singer Hibari Misora