Road Trip on Kyoto Tango Railway (Part 2)
Places featured this week include a 130-year-old sake brewery, a town known for its crepe fabric, and a famous shopping street full of bag shops and even a unique vending machine for tote bags.
We continue our two-day train journey along Kyoto Tango Railway’s Miyamai and Miyatoyo lines, which connect Kyoto Prefecture to Hyogo Prefecture. On the first night, we have to look for a restaurant for dinner as we checked into Amanohashidate Hotel late. Most of the eateries are closed but we manage to find a ramen shop which is still open. We enjoy the noodles with a soup made of chicken and pork bones.
We start the second day with a relaxing bath while enjoying the view of Amanohashidate. Amanohashidate Hotel has private open-air baths, an open-air bath with an exquisite view, a steam bath and foot baths.
After checking out, we search for more spots with a great view of Amanohashidate. A local tells us about “Amanohashidate View Land” and highly recommends we try out “matanozoki”, a traditional way of viewing the sandbar. All we need to do is to bend over and look at it between our legs. So we take a monorail and head to “View Land” at the mountain peak. There is also an amusement park and restaurant here. After seeing Amanohashidate in the “matanozoki” position, we head to Amanohashidate Station.
After making enquiries, we head by the 10.15am train to Yosano Station. A local tells us the town is known for its Tango crepe fabric and there is a famous street showcasing this. However, at Yosano, we find out the stores, workshops for weaving the fabric and the historical museum are rather far away if we were to walk there.
So we drop by a hair salon and ask the owner to suggest another famous place. He mentions a sake brewery called Yosamusume Shuzo. The wife of the hair salon owner offers to drive us there. At the brewery, the sixth-generation owner tells us Yosamusume Shuzo opened in 1887 and besides sake, it also produces plum wine and sparkling sake. The products are mainly exported to other countries. Yosamusume sake is produced using rice and water from Yosa. It is bright yellow in colour as the sake is poured into bottles without filtering. We get to sample some of the light and dry sake.
The sake brewery’s owner gives us a ride to Yosano Station. We catch the 12.45pm train and head to Yuhigaura-Kitsu-onsen Station. The journey takes about half an hour. We want to have lunch but the restaurants suggested by the locals, Funatake and Nao, which is run by a farmer, are both closed. We finally find an eatery which is open. A shop called Kanihan sells souvenirs and also serves local seafood and its restaurant Koppe. We order its special seafood rice bowl, which is huge and costs 1,600 yen.
After lunch, we take the 3.25pm train to the terminal station, Toyooka. We find out from a passenger that the town is famous for producing bags and leather products. There are more than 10 bag manufacturers in Toyooka. In the past, 80 per cent of the bags in Japan were produced here.
At Toyooka, a local we speak with highly recommends we check out the city’s famous Caban Street. It has been around since 2005 and 14 out of the 25 stores sell bags. One of the shop owners shares with us that a single sheet of leather is used to make only one bag, making each one unique. He also leads us to a one-of-a-kind vending machine for tote bags of various styles and designs. It is the brainchild of the shopping street association and the bags have become very popular.
1) A unique way to see Amanohashidate is to bend over and view it “upside down” between your legs
2) Caban Street near Toyooka Station is known for its bag shops and even a bag vending machine