Road Trip on Tenryū Hamanako Line (Part 1)

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Road Trip on Tenryū Hamanako Line (Part 1)

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Road Trip on Tenryū Hamanako Line (Part 1)

Our train trip this week takes place on the Tenryu Hamanako Line in Shizuoka Prefecture. It opened in 1987 after Tenryu Hamanako Railway took over what used to be the JNR Futamata Line. Many of its station buildings and platforms have been registered as national tangible cultural properties. 

Tenryu Hamanako Line runs from Shinjohara Station to Kakegawa Station, covering 39 stops over a distance of 67.7km. It boasts several natural sights such as Lake Hamana and Tenryu River. We buy a one-day pass and take the 9.30am train from Shinjohara in Kosai City to Okuhamanako Station. The journey lasts about 15 minutes and the next train will depart at 10.35am. 

A local we speak to suggests we visit a Japanese confectionery shop called Irikawaya, It is famous for its soft-serve tangerine ice cream and it has also opened a bakery. Established in 1885, the first-generation owner started off by making cakes and sweet buns. Western confections and tangerine wafer cakes were introduced by the later generations. The fifth-generation owner has ventured into making bread and his creations include butter croissant with bean jelly and red bean bread. Red bean paste, which is used in the shop’s traditional sweet buns, can also be found in both pastries. We also try the shop’s famous soft-serve ice cream. Tangerines are a well-known local product of the Lake Hamana area and the juice is used to make the tangerine ice cream.  

We make our way back to Okuhamanako Station and go to Mikkabi, one station ahead. Mikkabi’s wooden station building is a national registered tangible cultural property. A resident recommends we go to Seto as it offers a panoramic view of Lake Hamana. So from the station, we head there by bus. With a circumference of 114km, Lake Hamana is one of the largest lakes in Japan. 

We walk back to Mikkabi Station. On the way, we meet a local who suggests we try the croquettes at Uokane. The person offers to give us a ride to the shop as it would take us over 30 minutes to walk there. Interestingly, instead of being a meat shop, Uokane actually sells fish. The owner’s son came up with the idea of serving croquettes to expand the business. Beef from Mikkabi and baron potatoes from Hokkaido are used to make the croquettes. The shop can sell more than 200 of them over some weekends. We also try Uokane’s minced beef cutlets. 

Our next stop is 11 stations away, Fruit Park. We catch the train departing at 1.40pm and the journey takes about 40 minutes. A gentleman tells us about Hamamatsu Fruit Park Tokinosumika. It is nine times the size of the Tokyo Dome and one can enjoy picking about 15 kinds of fruits here throughout the year. Passengers of the Tenryu Hamanako Line get a discount on the entrance fee and can enjoy strawberry-picking for just 500 yen. 

A ride called the “Chu-Chu Train” takes visitors to the strawberry farm and it makes 16 runs each day. We reach the farm in 15 minutes. The strawberry-picking season is from December till May and one has 30 minutes to pick as many strawberries as possible. Benihoppe and Akihime are two varieties of strawberries which can be found at the farm. Meanwhile, 20 types of fruits such as oranges, apples and dragon fruit are available at a buffet during weekends and holidays. 

After this, we catch the train at 4.15pm and plan to alight at Nishi-Kajima Station to look for lodging. However, a lady on the train tells us there are not many hotels in that area so we decide to get off at Futamata-Hommachi instead. We ask several locals about where we could spend the night. They mention places like Owariya, Miura Inn and Fukaya. Unfortunately, they are either fully booked or closed. 

Another resident advises us to go to Gansuiji, where there is a hotel called Morinoie. We call the hotel first and are relieved that they have rooms available. So we take the 6.35pm train but have to go back two stops. The hotel’s manager picks us up from Gansuiji Station. The hotel, which was built about 26 years ago, is located quite high up on a mountain road. 


Tips:

1)    Tangerines are a famous local product of the Lake Hamana area
2)    Various discounts are offered to Tenryu Hamanako Line passengers who visit Hamamatsu Fruit Park Tokinosumika


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