Road Trip on Sanin Railway (Part 2)

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Road Trip on Sanin Railway (Part 2)

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Road Trip on Sanin Railway (Part 2)

We resume our two-day journey on the JR Sanin Main Line. At the end of the first day, we spend the night at Fujimiya. A night’s stay, which includes two meals, costs nearly 39,000 yen per person. For dinner, we feast on dishes featuring crabs caught at the port of Tsuiyama. They include boiled crab, steamed crab with a dipping sauce and snow crab stew.

We ask the inn’s owner about recommended spots we could visit the next day. He suggests Onsenji Temple. So the following day, after having some miso soup with crab, we head to the temple. After a five-minute walk from the inn, we reach a stairway and have to climb 450 steps before taking an aerial tram to the temple.

Onsenji Temple was built by Buddhist priest Dochi Shonin, who is also the founder of Kinosaki Onsen. In ancient times, visitors of Kinosaki would first pay their respects to Dochi Shonin and Kannon Bodhisattva at Onsenji Temple. They would borrow sacred ladles and learn the proper way to bathe and then go to the hot springs.

We visit the main hall of the temple, which is the oldest building in northern Hyogo Prefecture. The temple itself has been officially designated as an Important Cultural Property. The main deity of the temple is the 11-headed Kannon Bodhisattva, who is ensconced in a closed shrine. The doors of the deity’s shrine are opened for public viewing for three years once every 33 years only.  

This particular Kannon Bodhisattva is closely related to the name "Kinosaki”, which means “tip of the tree”. The main deity of Nara's Hasedera Temple and the Kannon Bodhisattva here were actually sculpted from the same tree. The Kannon of the Hasedera Temple was carved from the wood near the roots, while the Kannon Bodhisattva at Kinosaki was sculptured from the topmost wood or tip of the same tree. This explains why this hot spring town is called Kinosaki.

After visiting Onsenji Temple, we go to Kinosaki-Onsen Station and catch the 10.25am train to Kasumi, four stations away. The journey takes half an hour and our train from Kasumi will depart at 12.30pm. A local tells us to check out a seaside park called Shiokaze, which opened in 2008. After enjoying the spectacular view of the sea from here, we go to the Nishitomo seafood market. It has been around since 1897. Its most famous seasonal item is snow crab and it also sells the Kasumi Crab. We get to try some crab broth for free before heading back to Kasumi Station.  

We take the train to Amarube, two stations ahead. The next train from here will leave at 2pm. We walk along the Amarube Railway Bridge, which is connected to the train station. It is 41.5m high and 310.6m long. It was originally a wooden bridge that was constructed in 1912. However, it was reconstructed in concrete in 2010. Five years ago, a sightseeing spot was built alongside it, called "Station in the Sky". It has since become a popular place for taking photographs.

After admiring the gorgeous scenery, we head by train to the railway terminal Tottori Station. Passengers travelling from Kyoto Prefecture to Tottori Prefecture have to change trains at Hamasaka Station. After going past Hyogo Prefecture's last station, Igumi Station, the train enters Tottori Prefecture. We finally reach Tottori Station and plan to take the 3.50pm bus from the depot to the Tottori Sand Dunes.

We have some time till then so ask a local to recommend another spot. The person mentions Sunaba Coffee, which opened four years ago. It is located in front of the station. The cafe’s owner suggests we try black small shrimp. A rare shrimp caught in the Sea of Japan, it is a famous item in Tottori. So we order the shrimp curry, shrimp hot sandwich and also the popular Sand Roasted Coffee. Brazilian coffee beans are roasted together with sand from the dunes using a unique technique. The coffee is mildly bitter with a rich aroma.

After this, we head by bus to the Tottori Sand Dunes, about 20 minutes away. They have been designated as a natural monument. We end our two-day trip on the Sanin Main Line by watching the sunset from a popular spot here, a 46-metre-high sand dune called Umanose.  

Tips:

1) When visiting Kinosaki, go to the Onsenji Temple first before soaking in the hot springs
2) Umanose at the Tottori Sand Dunes is a popular spot for watching the sunset


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