Road Trip on Tango Railway Line (Part 1)

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Road Trip on Tango Railway Line

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Road Trip on Tango Railway Line (Part 1)

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Join us as we embark on a two-day trip on the Kyoto Tango Railway, which links Hyogo and Kyoto prefectures. It consists of the Miyatoyo and Miyamai lines. So we will be travelling from Miyatoyo’s Toyooka Station in Hyogo and then change to the Miyamai Line before going all the way to Nishi-Maizuru Station in Kyoto. These lines offer stunning views of the Yura River, the Sea of Japan and the mountains. There are 19 stations in total, covering a distance of 83.6km.

Kyoto Tango Railway started operations about 30 years ago and was known as the Miyafuku Railway. The name was subsequently changed to the Kitakinki Tango Railway and reinstated as the Kyoto Tango Railway in 2015. The exterior of some of the trains features famous sights along the railway line. The train cars were designed by Eiji Mitooka, who also handled the Kyushu Shinkansen.

We begin our journey at Toyooka City in northeast Hyogo Prefecture. We buy a rail pass for 2,000 yen which offers unlimited rides on the Kyoto Tango Railway. From Toyooka Station, we take the 9.50am train to the adjacent Konotori-no-Sato Station. We decide to catch the 12pm train from here, which gives us two hours to explore the area. We speak to a local who recommends we check out storks, a nationally protected species, at the Konotori-no-Sato Park. It is 20 minutes away by foot. The park serves as a place for storks to feed and breed, after which they are released back into the wild. The park currently cares for nearly 100 storks.

After visiting the park, we return to the station and head to Kumihama. Situated along the Sea of Japan, it is an ancient castle town dating back to the Muromachi period. The town prospered in the Edo period thanks to cargo ships and became the capital of the former Kumihama Prefecture during the Meiji period.

Our train enters Kyoto Prefecture and pulls into Kumihama Station after 10 minutes. We have to take the 2.25pm train to our next destination and decide to have lunch here. We walk towards the main street, where we meet someone who tells us to try the sushi and bota mochi at Inaba Honke. The building that presently occupies the enormous compound is registered as a national tangible cultural asset. It is open to the public for tours and also doubles up as a restaurant. Besides bota mochi, we also order bara sushi, an ancient favourite in the Tango region. Mackerel is scattered over sushi rice and it also includes egg and shiso leaves.

We then take a 10-minute train ride to Shotenkyo Station, which is two stops ahead. We decide to catch the 3.35pm train from here. We start looking for tourist attractions in the area. A resident suggests we visit a bridge which resembles the Amanohashidate sandbar. As the bridge is a 20-minute walk away, we rent some bicycles instead. At 7km long, the Shotenkyo sandbar separates the Sea of Japan and Kumihama Bay. In 1913, a waterway was built to connect the bay to the sea. In 1956, the then Minato Bridge was built to allow ships passage into the bay. The present Minato Bridge was erected in 1981 and a smaller Minato Bridge was also built as a pedestrian thoroughfare.

We return to Shotenkyo Station, only to realise that we just missed our train. We have to wait till 4.40pm for the next one. So we ask some more locals about interesting spots. One of them recommends we go to the next station, Yuhigaura-Kitsu-Onsen Station, which has a foot bath at the station platform itself. The station is near the Yuhigaura Beach, which is famous for its captivating sunsets. Train passengers can use the station’s foot bath for free.

We later take the train to Yuhigaura-Kitsu-Onsen Station, try the foot bath and then travel by train to Amino Station. We have to look for a place to spend the night. We drop by a bookstore to gather information about hotels with hot springs and are told to try either Mansukero or Satake. We call the two places - the former is full but luckily, the latter has available rooms. The hotel staff picks us up from the station and we arrive at the hotel after 10 minutes. The spacious Japanese-style rooms boast a beautiful view of the ocean, while the hot spring baths are said to be good for one’s skin.


Tips:

1) Look out for unique station designs when travelling on the Kyoto Tango Railway
2) Train passengers can use the foot bath at Yuhigaura-Kitsu-Onsen Station for free


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