Road Trip to Tenryu Hamanako Line (Part 2)
Places highlighted this week include a temple featured in a historical TV drama series, a huge waterfall in a famous limestone cave and a store which makes delicious honey from mikan orange flowers.
Our two-day trip on the Tenryu Hamanako Line in Shizuoka Prefecture continues. On the first day, from Kakegawa Station, we manage to advance to Tokohadaigakumae Station. In the evening, we take a bus from Tokoha University to Hamamatsu Station, which is an hour away. We check into Hotel South Garden Hamamatsu and have dinner at an Italian restaurant. We order its popular pasta with shrimps, squid and clams. We also try another pasta dish made with Nagoya Cochin soup stock.
At 9.25am the following day, we take the bus from Hamamatsu back to Tokoha University. We arrive at 10.20am and go to Kanshiro, the tofu shop we did not get to visit on the first day. Its freshly made hot tofu is its most popular item. We check the list of famous spots and specialities compiled by the local tourism associated and are happy to see Tofu Kanshiro as an entry. We spin our roulette wheel and get a three. We thus get to advance three stops from Tokohadaigakumae Station.
We take the 12.10pm train and reach Kiga Station in about 10 minutes. We decide to catch the 2.20pm train later. A local suggests we visit the Ryotanji Temple, which appeared on an NHK historical drama series based on famous warlord Naotora Ii. The person also recommends a limestone cave called Ryugashido.
We first make our way to the Ryotanji Temple, which was established about 1,300 years ago. The Ii family was one of the four families that dedicated their lives to Tokugawa Ieyasu. They were close advisers of the lord. Naomori, Naotora's father, was defeated by Nobunaga Oda during the Battle of Okehazama. Naotora, who actually become a nun at the age of nine, took his place and became the head of the clan. Several valuable handwritten documents are preserved at the temple, such as an official document which was exchanged between Naotora and a vassal of Imagawa in November 1568. All 40 generations of the Ii family are also buried at the temple and their ancestral tablets are displayed here.
Our next stop is Ryugashido, one of the biggest limestone caves in the Tokai region. The cave is about 1,000m long. Previously a limestone quarry, the cave is now a popular tourist spot, drawing more than 200,000 visitors each year. One of the attractions of the cave is a waterfall. At 30m high, it is said to be the biggest waterfall in a cave. After visiting Ryugashido, we drop by Misoman to buy its famous sweet “miso” buns made with brown sugar.
Ryotanji, Ryugashido and Misoman are all included in our list of famous spots and specialities. We spin the wheel, get an eight and proceed to Ona Station, eight stops ahead. We arrive at 2.50pm and make enquiries at a dry cleaning place. The owner recommends we check out the Nagasaka Bee Farm, which specialises in domestically produced honey made from seasonal flowers. It opened 80 years ago and sells more than 130 different kinds of honey, with the most popular being honey from Mikkabi mikan orange flowers. As high-quality honey can be expensive, the shop has something for those on a tight budget - honey soft serve ice cream. In summer, up to 200 servings of this sweet treat are sold each day.
We return to Ona Station and are relieved to see Nagasaka on our special list. After spinning the roulette wheel, we finally get to take the 4.45pm train to our goal, Shinjohara Station. Four stops ahead, it is located in Kosai City, the westernmost part of Shizuoka Prefecture. The train travels along Lake Hamana and pulls into Shinjohara Station at 5pm, way before our deadline of 6pm. As a reward, we are treated to an array of luxurious dishes from Hamamatsu.
1) Fans of Japanese historical dramas should visit the Ryotanji Temple
2) Check out the huge waterfall in the Ryugashido limestone cave