Road Trip on Tarumi Railway (Part 1)

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Road Trip on Tarumi Railway (Part 1)

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Road Trip on Tarumi Railway (Part 1)

Our journey of enquiry and discovery this week takes place in Gifu Prefecture and this time, we will travel on the Tarumi Line. Originally part of the Japanese National Railways, the line’s ownership was transferred to the third-sector Tarumi Railway in 1984. The line was extended to Tarumi Station in 1989 and now runs between Tarumi Station and Ogaki Station. The local railway line has 19 stations, covering a total distance of 34.5km. The scenic route features many cherry blossom sites.

We begin our trip from Motosu City, located in the south of Gifu Prefecture. The Usuzumi zakura cherry tree here, believed to be more than 1,500 years old, has been designated as a National Natural Treasure. We start by travelling from Tarumi Station to Hinata Station. The cute and colourful one-car train departs at 10.30am. A commuter tells us there are several beautiful rivers in the area, one of which is Neo-gawa. We arrive at Hinata Station in 10 minutes and the next train will leave at 12.05pm. We come across a couple, who tells us about Yamabiko, a restaurant which is famous for its eel.

On the way to the restaurant, we pass by the Neo-gawa River, known to be a popular fishing spot for sweetfish. At Yamabiko, we are told that a prior reservation is required for eel dishes. So we order other recommended items such as the mountain vegetable course meal, and amago trout and char sashimi. The restaurant’s owner drives us back to Hinata Station and we ask him to recommend spots along Tarumi Line. He suggests we find the time to visit the Tsumitsumi Strawberry Farm near Motosu Station.

We then take the train from Hinata to the next stop, Nabera. We reach in less than five minutes and have until 1.35pm to explore the area. The sakura or cherry blossoms around the station are beautiful. We want to find a scenic spot and a resident tells us to check out the Kaneyama Bridge. The view of the valley, mountains and river with its crystal clear water is breathtaking from the bridge.

After this, we advance two stations to Komi, which is about five minutes away. Our next train from here will depart at 3.20pm. We meet a teacher from the Motosu City Municipal Primary School and she tells us about the school’s shiitake garden. It is located next to the school and the mushrooms are grown by the students themselves. It is part of an initiative to educate them about food. The mushrooms, which are cultivated on logs for over six months, are now a famous local product.

After trying our hand at picking some shiitake mushrooms, we look for another famous spot. We drop by a clinic and the staff mentions a 300-year-old cedar tree at Kasugi Shrine. We are taken to the shrine, which is surrounded by mountains. Standing tall within the shrine grounds is the cedar tree which has been designated as a Natural Treasure. The main shrine itself also has a long history, as it was built during the early Genroku period.

Our next destination is Tanigumiguchi Station, one stop away. On the train, we ask a passenger about other places and he tells us that Kegon-ji Temple is a must-see spot for sakura and autumn leaves. Tanigumiguchi is an unattended station with cherry blossom trees planted all around. We ask a local to recommend a hotel for the night. He tells us there are lodging places a few kilometres away which can be reached by bus. So we board a bus and ask the driver to suggest a place near Kegon-ji Temple. He mentions Tachibanaya. We manage to get the number and call the inn to make a reservation. The bus passes through a tunnel of sakura trees before arriving at the main gate of Kegon-ji Temple at 4.15pm.

We stroll along the main street of the temple and drop by Hoteiya, a 40-year-old store selling food and souvenirs. We find out that the temple will close at 4.30pm so we decide to visit it the following day. We then head to Tachibanaya, which opened during the late Edo period. Its Japanese-style rooms offer fantastic views of the cherry blossoms. Before dinner, we relieve our fatigue by soaking in a granite porphyry bath filled with minerals.

Tips:

1)      Some restaurants require a prior reservation if you want to eat certain delicacies
2)      Kegon-ji Temple near Tanigumiguchi Station is a popular spot to enjoy the autumn scenery


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