Road Trip on Takamatsu-Kotohira Electric Railroad (Part 2)
Highlights this week include a unique reservation-only second-hand bookstore, a golf course facing a reservoir and a giant LED kaleidoscope in the middle of a national road intersection.
Our two-day journey on Takamatsu-Kotohira Electric Railroad’s Shido Line and Nagao Line continues. At the end of the first day, we manage to book rooms at the Aji Tourist Hotel, Umi no Yadori. A hotel car is sent to pick us up from Kotoden-Yashima Station along Shido Line. Located on a hill in a hot spring town in Shikoku, it is popular among pilgrimage groups. Our room overlooks the sea and even has a jacuzzi. There is a public bath on the first floor which offers a breathtaking view of the surroundings. For dinner, we are served an array of seafood, including raw young yellowtail, simmered head of sea bream and grilled abalone.
The next morning, the hotel staff gives us a ride to Kotoden-Yashima Station. We board the 9.40am train and go to Kawaramachi, the terminal station where all of the Kotoden lines intersect. The train ride takes about 15 minutes. We will travel on the Nagao Line from here and the next train from Kawaramachi Station will leave at 11.35am.
We start asking the locals to recommend famous spots. One of them tells us about a unique reservation-only second-hand bookstore called Natasho, which is owned by Mr Fujii. The two-storey building boasts a stylish interior and has rare, highly prized books. We call the store to make a reservation. When we reach the bookstore, we meet Mr Fujii. He left his job at a famous publisher in Tokyo years ago and renovated this wooden building, which he rents for 10,000 yen. He sells about 5,000 books in the store. Besides working as a writer, he has also produced book exhibition spaces and appeared at panel sessions.
We also learn that he does not get his books from second-hand book markets but the books are all sold to him individually. An example is the first edition of manga series “Lupin III” by Mr Monkey Punch, who passed away in 2019. Its original price was just 150 yen. He also has treasured books for collectors, some of which can cost up to 30,000 yen.
We return to Kawaramachi Station and ride on the Nagao Line to Hanazono, which is less than five minutes away. We have until 2.15pm to visit recommended places here. A lady we meet suggests we visit Oike’s golf course. She gives us directions to a bus stop, from where we travel to the Oike stop. We reach in less than 10 minutes and go to the Kita Golf Centre, which faces a reservoir.
Kagawa Prefecture has always faced the problem of water shortage so there are many reservoirs here. About 30 per cent of the golf driving ranges in the prefecture face reservoirs and people can hit the golf balls into the water. The specially made golf balls float on water and they are scooped up with a net every morning before the practice range opens.
We take the 1.40pm bus back to Hanazono Station and ride the train to Hayashimichi, less than five minutes away. The next train from here is at 4pm. As we are hungry, a local resident recommends we try the deep-fried chicken at the Takamatsu Base Cafe. We walk for 15 minutes from Hayashimichi Station before finally finding the place. Their popular fried chicken is seasoned with soy sauce base stock and spices, chopped into large pieces and then deep-fried until crunchy.
After this, we head back at the station and take the train to Hiragi Station, which is eight stops away. At Hiragi, a resident tells us about Miki Mande Gankyo, a giant LED kaleidoscope. It can be found near the neighbouring stop, Gakuen-dori Station. So, we make our way by train and reach Gakuen-dori at 4.40pm.
Located in the middle of a national road intersection, Miki Mande Gankyo was built for the 60th anniversary of Miki and is thus the town’s landmark. It symbolises the wishes of the town’s residents, who always pray for Miki’s development and happiness. We end our two-day trip by taking the train from Gakuen-dori Station to the last stop and goal of our journey, Nagao Station.
1) Highly prized books can be found at the unique second-hand bookstore Natasho in Takamatsu
2) Those who love fried chicken should visit the Takamatsu Base Cafe