Road Trip on Donsan Line In Shikoku (Part 1)

Japan Hour (Synopsis Only)

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Road Trip on Donsan Line In Shikoku

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Japan Hour (Synopsis Only):

Road Trip on Donsan Line In Shikoku (Part 1)

Join us as we embark on a two-day trip to discover tourist sites along the JR Dosan Line in Shikoku. It runs through three prefectures - Kagawa, Tokushima and Kochi - offering passengers beautiful views along the line. The local line opened as the Sanuki Railway in 1889. It was later nationalised and extended to Kubokawa, the terminal station, in 1951. JR Dosan Line starts from Tadotsu Station in Kagawa and goes through Tokushima to Kubokawa Station in Kochi. It is a long line with 61 stations, covering a total distance of 198.7km.

We begin our journey in Tadotsu-cho, Kagawa. From Tadotsu Station, we take the train towards Awa-Ikeda, which is slightly less than 1.5 hours away. We however have to first change trains at Kotohira Station. There is a famous shrine called Kotohiragu, also known as Konpira-san, here. It attracts four million visitors every year.

After changing trains at Kotohira, we travel through the mountains and enter Tokushima. The train arrives at Awa-Ikeda Station and we have less than two hours till our next train leaves at noon. We speak to some people at the station who recommend we check out an “Udatsu” street. Udatsu refers to the high-winged wall structures built on both ends of the roof to prevent fires.

To see this street of Udatsu, we head to a cafe-cum-bar called Kiseru. It is located in a traditional folk house built 150 years ago. We are able to see the Udatsu structures from the cafe. We learn that Udatsu was originally built as a firewall to protect houses. Later it was used as a house decoration and became a symbol of wealth. The tobacco industry flourished in this area in the late Edo to Meiji era and many wealthy merchants used to live around here.

We still have an hour till our next train so we go to another recommended spot, a sake distillery called Miyoshikiku. It is a five-minute walk from the cafe. Several types of sake are found here and we buy an authentic sake which uses the underground water of Yoshino River.

After this, we take the train to Oboke, five stations away from Awa-Ikeda Station. We reach the station after half an hour and have till 2.20pm to catch the next train. We drop by a liquor shop to enquire about famous spots in Oboke. We are told about the Kazura suspension bridge made of mountain vines. However, we find out that it will take us three hours on foot to get there. As we have a train to catch, we shelve our plan to visit the bridge. Another spot mentioned to us is Oboke valley. We have to walk 2km to reach the place where the tour of the valley by sightseeing boat starts. Along the way, we enjoy the view of the valley and the river.

We later get on the boat and take a 30-minute ride down the Yoshino River. Oboke valley surrounds the river. The rocks on both sides are crystalline schist and the valley, part of the Tsurugizan National Park, has been designated as a national natural treasure in Tokushima.

It is 1.50pm by the time we end our tour so we have to rush back to Oboke Station. We then take the train to Tosa-Nagaoka Station, which is 12 stations away. During the 1.5-hour journey, the train goes through several tunnels and enters Kochi. Tosa-Nagaoka is an unstaffed station and our next train leaves at around 5pm. After asking some locals, we decide to go to a Korean restaurant called Gyeongbokgung, situated in an old Japanese house. For lunch, we order bibimbap and also seaweed roll made of rice seasoned with sesame oil and salt, and five ingredients including carrot and namul.

Next, we head by train to Tosa-Ikku, the fourth station from Tosa-Nagaoka. We arrive at the station after about 15 minutes. The next train will leave at 5.55pm so we have less than an hour. The residents here tell us this area is known for Tokutani tomatoes but they are currently out of season. Famous for their rich and sweet taste, they is only available from February to April.

We later take the train to our final station for the first day, Kochi, which is two stations ahead. This time, we ask some passengers on the train to recommend a hotel where we can spend the night. They tell us to check out the hotels in front of Kochi Station. Once we reach Kochi, we ask the locals to suggest a nice hotel. The name Jouseikan, where former prime minister Shigeru Yoshida used to stay, comes up. We call the hotel and find out that although there are rooms available, the hotel is unable to prepare dinner for us at such short notice.

So we make enquiries at the station’s information desk and are told to go to Hirome Market. It is a 15-minute walk from the station. It was built on the former residence of Fukao Hirome Shigeaki, who was a retainer of the Tosa domain. It boasts over 60 shops selling local delicacies and general goods. We go to one of the stores to try deep-fried gyoza dumplings, a speciality of Kochi, and lightly roasted bonito with salt and yuzu vinegar.


Tips:

1) Train passengers can also offer tips on tourist spots worth visiting
2) Explore the Oboke valley by taking a boat ride down the Yoshino River

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