Road Trip on Nippon Honsen Line (Part 1)

Japan Hour

Japan Hour - Summer
Road Trip on Nippon Honsen Line (Part 1)


Japan Hour:

Road Trip on Nippon Honsen Line (Part 1)

(Updated: )

Join us as we embark on a two-day journey on the JR Nippo Main Line, which runs from Fukuoka Prefecture to Kagoshima Prefecture. The line was built in 1932, connecting Kokura and Kagoshima and covering the whole of Kyushu. Passengers travelling on this railway line can enjoy beautiful landscapes all along southern Kyushu. Our trip will take us from Miyazaki Station to Kagoshima Central Station, a journey of 125.9km spanning over 28 stations.

From Miyazaki, we catch the 8.45am train to Aoidake. During the 40-minute ride, we pass by the Oyodo River. We decide to take the 11.40am train from Aoidake Station. A resident near the station tells us about the Sakaigawa Bridge. Constructed in 1916, it’s a famous spot for railway buffs to take photos of trains passing by. We later return to the station and head to the castle town of Miyakonojo, 20 minutes away. With about 16,000 residents, Miyakonojo is the second-largest city in the prefecture, after Miyazaki. We have 1.5 hours to spare before our next train departs at 1.35pm from Miyakonojo Station.

We are hungry so ask around about eateries but find out not many places are open for lunch. A local suggests Kashiwa Bento but unfortunately, the shop is closed for the day. So we shelve our plans to have lunch here and decide to check out the castle. Someone tells us we can get a map and rent electric bicycles at the tourism office for 300 yen. We try riding to the castle but are unable to find it so we cycle back to the tourism kiosk to return the bikes. The castle itself has in fact been converted to a museum, which commands a fantastic view of Miyakonojo City. 

We then ride the train to Osumi Okawara Station. The train enters Kagoshima Prefecture and we arrive at the station after 20 minutes. Our next train from here will only leave at 4.20pm. We drop by a store near the station and the lady at the shop recommends we have lunch at Kitan Market and also check out the Okawara Gorge. She also tells us this village is known for its "gottan", a musical instrument. It is an itai-shamisen which is very popular in Miyazaki and Kagoshima prefectures. It is similar to the shamisen lute, but is made entirely of wood. It is played with both a pick and the fingers.

The store owner kindly agrees to drive us to the market and then to Okawara Gorge. We reach the market after five minutes. Goods and arts and crafts that are made by the locals are sold at the market. We try the tempura soba and then head by car to the gorge, which spans about 2km. It is a popular spot for summer camps and the valley is also gorgeous in the fall. We then visit the Kirihara Waterfall, a famous spot in Okawara Gorge which is 12m high and 40m wide. We later go to another recommended place, the Mizonokuchi Cave which has been designated as a natural monument.

We are driven back to the station and head by train two stops ahead to Kirishima Jingu. The train pulls into the station after about 15 minutes. We pop by a bakery to find out about hotels nearby. The owner mentions Traveller Sanso, which also has hot spring baths. 

1) Sakaigawa Bridge is popular among railway buffs to take photos of trains passing by
2) A famous spot in Okawara Gorge is the Kirihara Waterfall