Road Trip on Tosa Kuroshio Railway Line (Part 1)

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Road Trip on Tosa Kuroshio Railway Line

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Road Trip on Tosa Kuroshio Railway Line (Part 1)

This week, we take a two-day trip on Tosa Kuroshio Railway’s Nakamura Line and Sukumo Line in Kochi Prefecture. Tosa Kuroshio Railway took over the JR Nakamura Line in 1988 and opened the Sukumo Line in 1997. Both railway lines comprise 22 stations in total, covering a distance of 66.6km. 

We begin our journey from Kubokawa Station in Shimanto-cho, where the Nakamura Line starts. After buying a two-day railway pass, we catch the 12.10pm train and travel four stations ahead to Tosa-Saga. The ride lasts about 25 minutes. A local we speak to tells us the area is Japan’s top pole-and-line fishing spot for skipjack tuna. He suggests we try the skipjack tuna set meal at a roadside station called Nabura. The shop at the roadside station is managed by a local skipjack tuna fleet, the internationally known Saga Myojin Maru. 

We go to the roadside station, where we order the recommended salt-braised skipjack tuna set meal. The skipjack tuna is grilled with straw, which produces large flames and gives the skin a crispy finish. The smell of the straw is also said to help get rid of the strong odour of raw fish. The braised skipjack tuna can be enjoyed with homemade ponzu vinegar, sun-dried salt and citron juice. 

After our meal, we ask the chef to recommend a famous spot. He advises us to go to Shioya Beach and visit Salteve, which makes sun-dried salt. We are given a ride to Shioya Beach but are unable to find the saltworks so we call the facility. Someone comes to pick us up and we are driven to the company’s new facility - Tosa no Shiomaru - which faces Tosa Bay. We reach after a 10-minute ride along the national highway.  

We are taken on a tour of the saltworks and learn about the process of producing sun-dried salt. The salt is crystallised without any use of combustion, using natural means such as sunlight and the sea breeze. The whole process can take about a month. The dried salt is then stirred to adjust the size of the grains, depending on clients’ preferences.  

We have an hour to spare till our next train leaves at 4pm. So we ask the owner of the salt facility to suggest a place to visit. We learn that the town’s disaster awareness is very high as it is located near the sea. For example, there is a danger of a huge tsunami if the area is hit by a megathrust earthquake. So a Tsunami Refuge Tower, the largest one in Japan, has been built near Tosa-Saga Station. The locals often go there to enjoy the view of the mountains, the sea and even the night lights. 

We walk back to the station and meet a lady with her daughter along the way. We are given a lift to Tosa-Saga Station. The lady tells us about a roadside station near Ukibuchi Station which sells pomelo burgers. She also suggests we spend the night at Nest, which is walking distance from the roadside station. We arrive at the Tsunami Refuge Tower and go to the top, from where we can see the sea and all of Tosa-Saga. The tower was built in 2017 and has a height of 22m. The top floor can accommodate up to about 230 people. 

After this, we call Nest to ask about available rooms and find out the whole hotel has been reserved for the night. We walk back to Tosa-Saga Station and ride on the 4.05pm train to Ukibuchi Station, six stops ahead. We find the roadside station called Vios Ogata. We ask about its pomelo burger, which turns out to be a limited-time item sold during the Pomelo Festival. However, the chef kindly volunteers to make some for us. Two to three thick slices of pomelo are placed on top of lettuce in burger buns, after which a lots of shredded cabbage and some tartar sauce are added. 

We ask the chef about places to stay near our next destination, Nakamura Station. We are told about a Japanese inn called Anjuan, located near Tamematsu Park. We call the hotel and find out a night’s stay with breakfast costs 9,000 yen, excluding tax. It is a 40-minute walk from Nakamura Station. We head back to Ukibuchi Station and hop on the train which leaves for Nakamura at 5.55pm. 


Tips:

1)    Tosa-Saga is famous for its skipjack tuna 
2)    A unique pomelo burger is available during the Pomelo Festival at Vios Ogata near Ukibuchi Station 


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