Road Trip on Sanko Line (Part 1)

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Road Trip on Sanko Line


Japan Hour:

Road Trip on Sanko Line (Part 1)

Join us as we explore the JR Sanko Line which links the prefectures of Hiroshima and Shimane. This local line offers stunning views of Gonokawa River, the largest river in the central Chugoku region, and the Sea of Japan. The railway line, which spans from Miyoshi Station in Hiroshima Prefecture to Gotsu Station in Shimane Prefecture, has 35 stations over a 108.1km-long track. The construction of the line began in 1926 and it took half a century for the entire line to be completed in 1975.

Our journey begins from Miyoshi Station. We check the train schedule and find out only five trains operate along the line each day. We take a two-carriage train to our first destination, Koyodo Station. A passenger on the train recommends we visit the Gonokawa Canoe Park Sakugi. At Koyodo, we have more than four hours to explore the area as our next train will only depart at 2.50pm. We finally find the canoe park after walking for nearly half an hour. It offers a range of water sports which can be enjoyed on the Gonokawa River.

After a canoe ride, we want to have lunch. We drop by an administrative office to get tips and are told about a rest station by the river, Josei. It is 3km away but we are relieved to find out we can rent some bicycles and ride there. After a 20-minute bicycle ride, we reach Josei. We order a local speciality, hiyashi chuka noodles, which contain celtuce. This vegetable, also known as “stem lettuce”, gives the noodles their green colour. The noodles are served chilled and is the eatery’s most popular summer dish. We also try natural sweetfish which has been caught from the Gonokawa River in front of the restaurant. It is salted and grilled for 15 minutes.

Someone at the restaurant suggests we check out the Josei Falls. At 126m high, it is one of the highest waterfalls in Japan. We ride our bikes for 10 minutes to the entrance of the waterfall, after which we have to hike up a hill for 15 minutes. The Josei Falls flows down three rock face tiers, with the top level being hidden behind a tree grove.

After this, we return our bicycles at the canoe park before walking for over 2km to Koyodo Station. We then take a 15-minute train ride to Kuchiba Station, three stops down the line. We have over 2.5 hours to spare before our train leaves at 5.50pm. A local recommends we visit the Enmei Temple, where there are several jizo statues. It is located atop a long staircase on a small mountain. We find out from the temple’s priest that it is over 530 years old; it was built in the Muromachi period.

The priest also tells us about a nature reserve, from where we can enjoy spectacular views of the Chugoku Mountains such as Mt. Sanbe. He offers to drive us there as it is quite far away. We reach the place after a 10-minute drive. The landscape from the viewing platform features layer upon layer of mountain peaks. On clear days, one can also see a billowing ocean of clouds from here.

We go back to Kuchiba Station and head by train towards the interchange, Hamahara Station, seven stops ahead. It is located in Shimane Prefecture. Along the way, we pass by an unusual station, Uzui. Its platforms are built about 20m above the ground, hence its nickname "Station in the Sky". This station does not have an elevator and passengers have to climb a staircase with 116 steps to reach the platforms.

We finally arrive at Hamahara and rest for a while at the station before catching the 7pm train to Kasubuchi Station. It is located in the middle of the JR Sanko Line. We meet an elderly lady and ask her to recommend a hotel. She mentions a few hotels such as Utopia and Hinode, but unfortunately, there are all fully booked because of the summer holidays.

We later manage to call a business hotel in Oda which has available rooms. Plaza Sanbe Hotel is a 25-minute drive from Kasubuchi Station. We decide to walk in the direction of Oda and try our luck at hitching a ride in case a car passes by.


1) Find out how many trains run along the railway line each day so that you can plan your time accordingly
2) Uzui Station is popular among railway fans for its platforms which are built 20m above the ground