Road Trip on Tenryū Hamanako Line (Part 2)

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Road Trip on Tenryū Hamanako Line (Part 2)

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Road Trip on Tenryū Hamanako Line (Part 2)

Our two-day trip on the Tenryu Hamanako Line in Shizuoka Prefecture continues. We manage to find accommodation at Morinoie, a 10-minute ride from Gansuiji Station, on the first day. It is surrounded by nature and its interior features a lot of wood. Hamamatsu City is known for its lumber and this hotel uses Tenryu cedar. All the rooms are named after different types of wood. For example, there is a room called zelkova and the plaque is made from zelkova wood. We stay in a room made from yew. 

Before dinner, we soak in a relaxing bath made of cypress. Later, we are served a variety of seafood from Suruga Bay and an assortment of creative dishes. The main dish is Mikkabi beef sukiyaki. Mikkabi cows are fed with Mikkabi tangerines, thus the beef is known for its sweetness.

There is a large forest around the hotel and the manager takes guests for a walk in the area at 8.30am every day. So after breakfast the next morning, we gather at the hotel lobby with some other guests. The 30-minute Sky Concourse includes a walk across a suspension bridge, which is 150m long and 48m high. We can see the whole of Hamamatsu and even the Shin-Tomei Expressway from here. 

The hotel manager later drives us back to Gansuiji Station and we head by the 9.45am train to Shikiji Station, which is about 25 minutes away. We speak to a farmer growing melons inside a plastic greenhouse. We ask about recommended spots in the area and are told about the Eiani Temple, dedicated to Ashuku Nyorai Buddha. It is usually visited by worshippers who have problems with their feet. Thus, the tradition of offering straw sandals here has been practised for ages. There is also a small temple beside Eiani, called Jokoji, which was built during the Muromachi Period. 

After this, we hop on the 12.55pm train and make our way to Enshu-Mori, four stations ahead. The ride lasts about 10 minutes and our next train from here will leave at 2.15pm. We want to eat eel so ask a local resident to suggest a restaurant for lunch. He mentions Suisei, a shop near the river. Opened in 1871, it serves fresh eel from Lake Hamana. The eatery’s fourth-generation owner grills the eel with a sauce made using a traditional family recipe. The eel is prepared in two ways. One is the Kanto style, where the eel is lightly grilled after being steamed. For the Kansai style, the eel is not steamed but grilled until it becomes crispy. 

Our next stop is Sakuragi Station, which is a 15-minute ride from Enshu-Mori Station. A local recommends we check out a coffee shop called Shironeko. It is known for its authentic home-roasted coffee. The owner left his office job and opened this shop with his wife more than five years ago. The coffee beans they use come from countries such as Brazil and Tanzania. The imported beans are sorted by hand and then roasted. The shop’s popular Shironeko blend uses Brazilian beans, while the Sakuragi coffee has a fruity taste which is characteristic of Ethiopian coffee beans. The couple named the shop Shironeko after their late cat. His portrait is in fact printed on the shop's coffee bean packages. 

Next, we take the train to the final station on the Tenryu Hamanako Line, Kakegawa. We ask a local resident about places worth visiting. She mentions Kakegawa Castle and the beautiful cherry blossoms along the river. If you pay an entrance fee, you can go up to the castle tower and see the whole town of Kakegawa.   

Another resident tells us to visit a shop called Suinoya at the front entrance of the castle. It was established in 1955. An 87-year-old lady manages this mom-and-pop candy store which incidentally also sells oden. The oden from Shizuoka is known for its black soup, ingredients cooked on skewers and bonito powder. Suinoya was opened by the lady owner and her husband when she was 25. Her husband passed away about five years ago but she continues to make oden every day to keep the tradition going.


Tips:

1)    Worshippers with feet-related ailments often visit the Eiani Temple, which is close to Shikiji Station
2)    Fans of home-roasted coffee should check out Shironeko near Sakuragi Station


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