Road Trip on Nankai Koya Line (Part 1)

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Road Trip on Nankai Koya Line (Part 1)

More train journeys await us and this week, we will travel along the Nankai Koya Line. It connects Osaka Prefecture and Wakayama Prefecture. There are 42 stations along the railway line, covering a total distance of 65.3km. The Nankai Electric Line was built in 1885 and was originally called the Hankai Line. The current Nankai Koya Line was established in 1930.

We begin our trip in Osaka’s Naniwa Ward and catch the 10.10am train from Shiomibashi Station. Our first stop is Nishi-Tengachaya, four stations ahead. The name Tengachaya comes from a local teahouse that was patronised by famous warrior Toyotomi Hideyoshi. We ask a local for recommendations and he tells us to go Cafe Maru at the Nishi-Tengachaya shopping district. Opened in 1935, Maru has a distinctive retro ambience and is open throughout the year. Its popular curry costs just 250 yen, while the cafe’s special coffee is 160 yen. The latter is made using a traditional brewing style originating from Sendai.

Next, we take the train to Kishinosato-Tamade, where the Nankai Main Line and Koya Line connect. We switch to another train and go to Tezukayama. The train reaches the station at 11.30am and we decide to spend an hour here. A local resident we meet suggests we check out the Tezukayama Tomb, located in a residential area. It was built around 1,400 years ago in an ancient Imperial style. With a total length of 120m, it is one of the largest tombs in Japan. According to local legend, it is the grave of Urashima Taro.

We also visit a driving range right next to the tomb, called "Golf Garden". After trying our hand at golf, we drop by a store which sells unique and cute clothes. We try on a coat which costs 170,000 yen and buy some socks which are reasonably priced at 2,300 yen.

We head back to Tezukayama Station and go to Mozuhachiman Station. We reach soon after 1pm and look for a place to have lunch. However, we find out from the locals there is no restaurant nearby and we should go to the next station, Nakamozu, instead. So we ride the train to Nakamozu Station, where a resident suggests we try the chicken broth ramen at Tori no Keiji. This ramen shop opened about two years ago. We order the popular Chicken Soba Fromage. The chicken is stewed for eight hours, leaving a rich and creamy broth. Parmesan cheese and two eggs are added, after which black pepper is sprinkled on top.

We then catch the 3.05pm train and speak to some passengers onboard. We are told about the two-day Kishiwada Danjiri Festival which is being held in front of Kongo Station on this day. So we alight at the station and ask the locals about the event. It is famous for its floats and the festival has a history of more than 300 years. It begins after dusk and traditionally, the men would move the floats while the women dance in front of them. As the floats go around the town, the participants would shake the floats and turn them and pray for a good harvest. We enjoy watching the festival, after which we have to find a place to spend the night.  

A resident recommends we stay at Nantenen, for which we have to take the train to Amami Station, seven stops ahead. We however have to change trains at Kawachinagano Station first. A beautiful traditional-style lodge, Nantenen used to be a house of a nobleman. The building was constructed in 1913 and designed by Tatsuno Kingo, who also designed Tokyo Station. Our room has a hearth and an attached outdoor bath too. For dinner, we are served several items including soup, scallops, charcoal-grilled beef and mushrooms.

1) Visit the Nishi-Tengachaya shopping district with its old town atmosphere
2) Passengers onboard trains can also offer tips on places worth visiting