Road Trip on JR Kishin Line (Part 2)

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Road Trip on JR Kishin Line (Part 2)

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Road Trip on JR Kishin Line (Part 2)

We continue our trip along the JR Kishin Line, which runs between Niimi in Okayama and Himeji in Hyogo. We will visit more tourist attractions which are recommended by the locals. On the second day of our journey, we head to Tsuyama Station by bus. Our next train only leaves at 10am, an hour later, so we decide to visit more sightseeing spots. A resident tells us to check out the Tsuyama Railroad Educational Museum at the back of the station. Among the interesting things here are a machine to switch the direction of trains and a popular steam locomotive called D-51 which is the last diesel-electric locomotive in Japan. Railway fans can also learn about the history of 13 famous railways here.

We return to Tsuyama Station and take the train to Hayashino, five stations away. The ride takes less than half an hour and at Hayashino, the locals advise us to visit the home stadium of the Okayama Yunogo Belle, a women’s soccer team. The Mimasaka Rugby Soccer Ground was built over 20 years ago while the Yunogo Belle squad was formed about 10 years ago. The place was built in 1988 as an official rugby stadium. The main grounds are covered in real grass and there are 5,000 box seats in the stadium. It has been the home stadium of Yunogo Belle since 2001. This huge stadium is located in the Mimasaka valley and we need to walk uphill for quite a distance to reach the top of the mountain. Luckily, we meet someone who is kind enough to drive us there.

Later, we make our way back Hayashino Station and travel by train to Sayo Station. The train crosses the prefectural boundary and enters Hyogo Prefecture. We arrive at Sayo Station and after chatting with some locals, decide to try grilled offal udon, a signature local dish of Sayo. However, the restaurant recommended to us, Fuji, is closed on this particular day. So we ask the locals to suggest other well-known local dishes. We are told to try Ippei-san’s famous venison curry. Venison is low in calories and high in protein; it is also rich in minerals such as iron. The meat is pre-cooked first to get rid of water and grease and to remove any odour. The venison is then cooked in the curry for a day.

After trying the venison curry, we visit a butcher named Fukumori who makes grilled offal udon croquettes. Beef offal and udon are cooked on an iron plate, after which they are coated with bread crumbs to make a tasty treat. We rush back to Sayo Station and board the 2.35pm train to Harima Shingu Station, which is half an hour away. Most of the trains bound for Himeji stop at this station. So we change trains here and ride for another half an hour to the terminal station of Himeji.

Our final stop of this adventure is the famous Himeji Castle. It was built in the early Edo era and was registered as a World Heritage Site in 1993. Himeji Castle is also known as Shirasagi-jo, which means White Egret Castle, because of its gleaming white facade. The main building comprises six stories with a basement floor. The castle has been renovated - the roof was replaced and the gypsum-plaster walls were repainted. One of the most well-known viewing spots in the castle is called Hanomon Shitanosaka, where the TV drama "Abarenbo Shogun" was shot. We go up to the castle tower and enjoy a wonderful view of the surroundings. It is a fitting end to our two-day trip during which we visited 10 local attractions along the JR Kishin Line.

Tips:

1) If you are a fan of railways, check out the Tsuyama Railroad Educational Museum in Okayama
2) Do try grilled offal udon when visiting the town of Sayo in Hyogo

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