Road Trip on Sanin Main Line and Sakai Line (Part 1)

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Road Trip on Sanin Main Line and Sakai Line (Part 1)

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Road Trip on Sanin Main Line and Sakai Line (Part 1)

This week, our train journey of enquiry and discovery takes place in Tottori Prefecture. We will travel on two lines - San'in and Sakai - which run along the Sea of Japan. We will ride on the JR San'in Main Line first before transferring to the JR Sakai Line at Yonago Station. Our goal is Sakaiminato Station and our route will span 39 stations in total, covering a distance of 110.6km over two days. 

The JR San'in Main Line stretches from Kyoto to Hatabu Station in Shimonoseki City, Yamaguchi Prefecture. The railway line began operating in 1933 and it is said to be the longest existing JR railroad line. Our trip begins from Tottori Station in Tottori City and we head by the 8.50am train to Hougi Station. Along the way, we pass by Lake Koyamaike. With a circumference of 18km, it is the largest lagoon in Japan. We reach Hougi Station in 15 minutes and our next train will depart at 11am. 

A local tells us that a famous place in this area is the grave of legendary sumo wrestler Kajinosuke Ryogoku. He was born in this town and he was famous during the Genroku period. Known for his superhuman strength, legend says he once lifted an anchor weighing almost 400kg. 

We return to Hougi Station and travel five stations ahead to Kurayoshi. We enjoy the beautiful view of the Sea of Japan during the 30-minute train ride. Our next train will leave at 1.10pm and we are keen to have lunch in this area. A resident we speak to suggests we eat at Shunmon. Opened in 2011, the tavern serves fresh fish from San'in. We order the recommended sashimi set meal and seafood bowl. The ingredients include coho salmon from Sakaiminato and locally caught sea bass. 

After this, from Kurayoshi Station, we go to Akasaki Station, five stops ahead. During the journey, we get to see Mt. Daisen, the highest peak in the Chugoku region. Our train pulls into Akasaki after 25 minutes and we decide to spend about an hour here. We drop by a gas station to ask about famous spots in the area. 

We are told about a beach called Nariishinohama. It is known for its large number of round rocks which produce rare sounds. They “creak” when you walk on them, or a “clattering” sound can be heard when waves hit them. It is said that if you write your wish on a rock and throw it in the sea, the louder the “clattering sound”, the more likely your wish will come true. In addition, good fortune will come your way. The beach is thus popular as a spiritual site.

We next make our way by the 2.50pm train to Yonago, which connects the San'in Main Line and Sakai Line. The train ride lasts slightly over an hour. We want to spend the night at an inn with hot springs. We ask a local who tells us about a luxurious hotel called Kasuitei in Kaike Hot Springs. We call the inn to make a reservation and ask for directions. We are told there is a bus which goes to the hot spring village from Yonago Station. So we hop on the 4.50pm bus and arrive at the hot spring district in about 20 minutes.

Kaike Hot Springs, discovered in 1900 by fishermen, originates from the bottom of the sea. There are now 25 hot spring establishments in the area. After checking a guide map, we walk to Kasuitei and reach the hotel at 5.20pm. It was established more than 30 years ago and its guest rooms command a spectacular view of a white sand beach between the Sea of Japan and the Kaike coast. Kasuitei is said to have the best view among all the inns in the hot spring village. On a sunny day, one can also see Shimane Peninsula and Okinoshima Island from the hotel.

We later walk along the beach and manage to watch the amazing sunset from the coastline. After this, we check out the reserved open-air baths at the back of our inn. The inn also has a bath that faces the Sea of Japan. Soaking in this bath while enjoying the sound of the waves and the sea breeze is the perfect way to relax. 

For dinner, we are served more than 10 dishes featuring seafood, meat and ingredients from San'in. They include bamboo-steamed Tottori wagyu beef with ponzu vinegar; salmon and mosaebi shrimp sashimi from Sakaiminato; grilled abalone; snow crab; soup made with ground vegetables, pumpkin and seasonal onions; and chicken soup. A night’s stay at Kasuitei with two meals costs 24,000 yen per person.


Tips:

1)    At Nariishinohama, write your wish on a rock and throw it in the sea for good luck
2)    Among all the inns at Kaike Hot Springs, Kasuitei is said to offer the best view of the coastline


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