Road Trip on Ohmi Railway (Part 2)

Japan Hour

Japan Hour - Spring in Japan
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Road Trip on Ohmi Railway (Part 2)

Our two-day journey on the Ohmi Railway Main Line in Shiga Prefecture continues. On the second day, the hotel staff from Crefeel Koto drives us to Yokaichi Station. We buy a one-day pass called Smile Ticket and start asking the locals for recommendations, as we still have time till our train leaves at 10.20am. One of them suggests we alight at Sakuragawa Station and visit the Ishidoji Temple, while another mentions an ancient tomb in a park near Kyocera-mae Station.

We first head to Kyocera-mae, which is 10 minutes away. The next train from here is at 11.25am. We walk to Akane Kofun Park, one of the largest archaeological sites in Shiga Prefecture. The rectangular-shaped ancient tomb of a powerful family that dominated the area in the past is called Amagoiyama Kofun. It was created about 1,500 years ago. There is another round tomb called Kubotayama Kofun. It was built a few decades after Amagoiyama Kofun. We see many other tombs and burial mounds at the park, together with cylindrical clay images that were excavated from the site and restored. 

After this, we head by train to Sakuragawa Station. We ask a local resident for directions to Ishidoji Temple and are told it is very famous, with many jizo statues. We reach the temple in the mountain after walking for 40 minutes. We first go to the main temple, Ashoka Ozan Ishidoji, which was built about 1,400 years ago during the Asuka period. Legend has it that the temple was constructed by a famous prince and regent called Shotoku Taishi. 

We climb up some steps and see a three-storied pagoda at the top. Built in the Nara period, it is the oldest stone pagoda in Japan. It has been designated as a national important cultural property. Surrounding the pagoda are countless small pagodas and stone Buddhist images. 

We walk back to Sakuragawa Station and take the 2.30pm train to Hino Station. The train ride takes about 10 minutes. We have until 3.45pm to explore the area. There is a cafe here which is managed by the students of Hino High School. One of them recommends we visit Farm Kei, which grows various types of tomatoes using groundwater from the Suzuka Mountains. The water is rich in minerals, resulting in sweet and fruity tomatoes. Farm Kei also sells things such as pizza sauce, ketchup and tomato juice.   

Visitors can also make their own pizza or tomato parfait at the farm. We try our hand at making a parfait, using tomatoes, crackers, three types of tomato puree, basil leaves and soft serve ice cream.

After this, we catch the train at 3.45pm and head to Minakuchi Jonan Station. It is 15 minutes away from Hino Station. The train to our goal of Kibukawa will depart at 4.50pm from here. We ask a taxi driver to suggest a restaurant and he recommends Tanino Shokudo, which serves suyakisoba, its speciality.   

The restaurant is always packed with students from Minakuchi High School so the chef does not have time to season the noodles. The homemade chewy Chinese noodles are cooked in a wok heated with lard, with just bean sprouts and green onions added as ingredients. Only a pinch of salt is added for flavour. After the noodles are cooked, the students would season the noodles themselves with pepper and sauce according to their individual preference. One serving of noodles costs just 350 yen, which suits the budget-conscious students. 

After trying the lightly flavoured noodles, we take the train to the final station on the Ohmi Railway Main Line, Kibukawa Station. It is five minutes away from Minakuchi Jonan and we arrive at the terminal at 4.55pm, just before our 5pm deadline. 


Tips:

1)    A three-storied pagoda is one of the main attractions of the Ishidoji Temple
2)    Visitors can try making their own pizza and parfait at Farm Kei near Hino Station