Road Trip on Konan Tetsudo Line (Part 1)

Road Trip on Konan Tetsudo Line (Part 1)

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Road Trip on Konan Tetsudo Line (Part 1)

Join us as we take a two-day journey along Konan Railway’s Owani and Konan lines in winter. Konan Railway was established in 1926 and the two railway lines run through the southern side of Tsugaru in Aomori Prefecture. Both lines have a total of 27 stations, covering a distance of 30.7km. The railway route boasts spectacular views of gorgeous snowy scenery during winter.

We will first travel along the Owani Line and our trip starts from Owani. It is famous for its hot springs which have a history of 800 years. Before boarding the train at Owani Station, we buy all-day passes. We then take the train to our first stop, Sabaishi Station. We decide to take the 10.35am train from here, which gives us over an hour to visit interesting spots. We first come across a Shinto shrine, where we pray for a safe journey. We also meet a man who tells us about a large stone which is believed to have been carried by Japanese warrior Benkei Musashibou to its current location.

After checking out the legendary rock, we come across a woman shovelling snow. She mentions a restaurant called the Sabaishi Drive-In, which serves the area’s famous dried anchovy ramen. Founded in 1973, the eatery is popular among locals and travellers. Its soup uses dried anchovies, chicken and pig bones which have been simmered for five hours.

Once we’ve eaten the dried anchovy ramen, we walk back to Sabaishi Station. Our next destination is four stops away, Tsugaru Osawa Station. We speak to some locals at the station and ask them for recommendations. One mentions a place called Dougadaino Katsurashimizu but it is not accessible at the moment due to the snow. Another suggests Mount Iwaki. At 1,625m above sea level, it is the highest mountain in Aomori. However, we can’t go there either. A third resident tells us about the Tomato House, which sells tomatoes, ketchup and tomato juice. But unfortunately, it is closed from end-November until mid-May. So we give up trying to find a recommended spot in Tsugaru Osawa.

We next head by train to the Seiai Middle and High School Station. The students from Seiai regularly compete in national volleyball matches. For example, the Hirosaki Institute Seiai Middle and High School is a powerhouse in the spring volleyball tournament with a 12-year winning streak. A local tells us to visit Kobayashi’s Cafeteria, which opened 40 years ago when Seiai High School was built. Its speciality is the chicken karaage which is fried in a secret sauce made of locally-produced soy sauce, ginger and other ingredients.

The next destination is the last station of Konan Railway’s Owani Line, Central Hirosaki Station. We go to the Nakadote Fish and Vegetable Market and ask the locals about inns where we can spend the night. We prefer to stay at one which has a hot spring. One of them tells us about Iwaki Manor, which is about 30 minutes away by car. We call the inn and it arranges a bus to pick us up from the station.

Built in 1964, Asobe No Mori Iwaki Manor is located at the foothills of Mount Iwaki. It has some private rooms with outdoor spas. We warm up in its hot spring while admiring the winter scenery. The hot spas around this area, known as Hyakuzawa Onsen, have lots of iron in them and this gives them a reddish colour.

Tips:
1) On some railway lines, trains only come once or twice an hour so make sure you don’t miss your train
2) A must-try sweet treat in Hirosaki is apple pie


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