Road Trip to Tenryu Hamanako Line (Part 1)
A farm boasting more than 80 kinds of roses, a "Lion's Nose" cliff which offers breathtaking views, and a museum displaying valuable art pieces and a rare statue of Buddha are featured this week.
Our next train trip takes place on the Tenryu Hamanako Line in Shizuoka Prefecture. It is also known as the Tenhama Line. During the two-day journey, we will travel from Kakegawa Station to the terminal, Shinjohara Station. We will ride along the north coast of Lake Hamana, covering 39 stations.
This time, a roulette wheel will determine the course of our journey and the stations we alight at. For example, if we get the number two on the roulette wheel, we will get off at the second station from our current location. To make it even more challenging, there is a list of famous spots and specialities compiled by the local tourist association, railway companies and local magazines. We will ask the locals for recommendations and if the places or delicacies we check out are on the list, we can move forward. If they are not, we have to go back and where we alight will once again be determined by the number we get on the roulette wheel. If we reach our goal of Shinjohara Station by 6pm on the second day, we will be treated to an extravagant dinner featuring luxurious Hamamatsu dishes.
Before taking a retro one-car train at 9.10am from Kakegawa Station, we spin the wheel first. We get the number five, so we head to Hosoya, the fifth station from Kakegawa. We have until 10.45am to visit recommended spots. We first notice several polytunnels for large-scale farming. A local working in the field tells us that roses are famous in Kakegawa City. We visit the Yoshioka rose farm, which is as big as Tokyo Dome. Eight farmers grow more than 80 varieties of roses here. It is one of the biggest rose farms in Japan and 2.7 million roses are shipped each year. Shizuoka used to be the top producer of roses in Japan. Currently, Aichi Prefecture is number one in terms of production volume, while Shizuoka is at second place.
We return to Hosoya Station and check the list of famous spots and specialities. The rose farm is included in the list so we get to move forward. We spin the wheel and this time, we get eight and advance to Shikiji Station. The train enters Iwata City, the hometown of the Jubilo Iwata football team. Shikiji is a rare station that is also a post office.
A resident tells us to visit the Shishigahana Park, where there is a cliff boasting incredible views. It is 10 minutes away by car, so the resident advises us to enquire at the station about getting a taxi. A post office worker at the station informs us that since this is a rural area in between mountains, it will take a long time for a taxi to come. His friend Mr Fujimatsu offers to drive us to Shishigahana Park.
The cliff is located in a legendary rocky area where Japanese Buddhist monk Kukai is believed to have gone for his ascetic training. It offers a spectacular view of the city, surrounded by deep greenery. The cliff is called Lion’s Nose as it looks like one when seen from the side. Mr Fujimatsu drives us to Shirakabekan, a restaurant mentioned by the postal worker. It is actually a rice shop which also serves cooked dishes so that people can try their rice. They owners run the biggest farm in the area which was established in the Meiji era. They sell seven different kinds of rice, including Nikomaru, which has been recognised as the highest-ranked Special A. At the restaurant, various types of the rice carefully selected by professionals are served with dishes which go well with them. We order the recommended rice with raw egg, beef curry and hamburger steak with Kakegawa beef.
Later, we check our list and are thrilled that Shirakabekan and Shishigahana Park are both included. The former has been featured in a local magazine and attracts people from other prefectures, while the park is a popular hiking course for families and is also a well-known spot to see the first sunrise of the year.
We spin the roulette wheel and get a two, which means we can advance to Kaminobe Station. We reach the station at 3.30pm and start enquiring about popular spots. A resident mentions the Silk Road Museum and a confectionery shop Osakaya. The latter initially specialised in Japanese sweets but now the owners’ daughter makes Western confectionery too. We head to the store and meet the owners and their daughter. We try their daughter’s famous Megumi Roll. The huge roll cake is fluffy and light and costs only 930 yen.
We then go to the Silk Road Museum. It was established by a president of a local company called Hamana Konpo, for people to learn about ancient cultures. He had travelled on the Silk Road and collected works of art as a hobby. The museum has 400 valuable artworks from 3,000 BC to the 15th century. An example is a rare structure which depicts Buddha performing a miracle, with water spouting from his feet and him floating in the air. It was made more than 1,700 years ago.
Osakaya and the Silk Road Museum are both included in our list of famous spots and specialities. We get an eight on the roulette wheel and take the train at 5.35pm to Tokohadaigakumae Station. We walk towards the Tokoha University and meet a lady along the way. She recommends we check out a tofu shop which is so popular that customers from other prefectures patronise it too.
Unfortunately, the tofu place is closed. So we decide to look for a hotel here and go to the shop the following morning. A student, Ms Tozuka, tells us there are no hotels in this area but we could go to Hamamatsu and spend the night there. Hamamatsu Station, however, is more than 10km away and is not along Tenryu Hamanako Line. So we would need to take a bus from the university to the station.
1) Rose gardens are a must-see attraction in Kakegawa City
2) Fans of ancient cultures should visit the Silk Road Museum near Kaminobe Station