An Illustrated Guide to Train Journey’s Trains
Between Osaka/Nagoya and Takayama/Hida-Furukawa/Toyama
Gorgeous seasonal scenery spreads out along the Takayama Main Line. With wide windows adorning its side, the Kiha 85-Series Diesel Car known as “Wide View Hida” was created so that passengers could enjoy that scenic beauty over the course of their journey. Seats inside this train have been placed at a higher level than the aisles to grant passengers a wide-angle view of everything from the sight of the mountains along the Takayama Main Line to the beauty of the valleys outside.
Imagine that you have boarded a train with a Green Car coupled to Car No. 10 from Nagoya Station on the Tokaido Shinkansen bullet train line, and are taking a scenic journey along the Takayama Main Line.
After departing from Nagoya Station and traversing the Tokaido Main Line, this train changes direction halfway through at Gifu Station and enters the Takayama Main Line connecting Gifu and Toyama. From here, our scenic journey begins with the “Japan Rhine,” a valley of the Kiso River, on the right-hand side, followed by the Hida River past Mino-Ota Station. After passing the Nakayama-shichiri valleys and Gero hot spring village outside, the train arrives at Takayama, otherwise known as the “Little Kyoto of Hida.” The Miya River and Jinzu River continue to flow past Takayama as well, and the gorgeous scenery of the valleys and the intermountain area accompanies the train as it speeds onwards. Finally, the train reaches its final destination at Toyama Station.
A front-end panoramic view is offered from the cars connected to both ends of the train. The cars heading both ends of the train seat either Green Car or reserved ordinary passengers.
Passengers in the Green Car connected to Car No. 10 on the head of outbound trains on the Takayama Main Line can enjoy a front-end panoramic view. On some trains, Green Cars are coupled between Car No. 2 and Car No. 6.
Ordinary cars offering reserved and open seating are connected to the head and middle of the train. Seats in these cars are elevated above the aisles inside to provide a view of the scenery outside.
In the old townscape of Takayama, canals flow underneath a continuous series of lattice awnings. The quaint-looking buildings found within include general stores, cafés, restaurants, and sake brewers whose ornamental balls hanging along their eaves announce that new sake has been made.
Actual floats from the Takayama Festival held in spring and fall are on permanent display here at this hall. Visitors can see for themselves the crafts made with the traditions and craftsmanship of Hida, renowned as a home to ingenuity since time before.
Sold at this morning market are fresh local vegetables and fruits, pickles, miso(soybean paste), crafts and more. The market is held in two locations: one in front of Jinya, the other along the Miya River. Both host a row of over forty stalls.
The Hida region, which is located in a cold highland with wildly-varying temperatures, ranks alongside Shinshu as a place where high-quality buckwheat seats are grown. Here, visitors can savor delicious soba buckwheat noodles painstakingly made by soba masters
Two ropeways are in service from the Shinhotaka Hot Springs in the Hida Hot Springs Village to a mountaintop observatory that offers an expansive panoramic view of the Hotaka Mountain Range with mountains up to 3,000m in height.
Located in the heart of the Northern Alps, this hot springs resort area contains an abundance of natural hot water and some of Japan’s top open-air baths. Five hot springs—Hirayu, Fukuji, Tochio, Shin-Hirayu and Shin-Hotaka—dot this village.
This settlement with its Gassho-style houses (homes whose roofs are raised upward in a prayer-like fashion) was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995. The gorgeous expanse of mountain village scenery acts as a conduit to Japan’s original landscape. Shirakawa-Go can be reached in approx. 50 min. by bus from Takayama Station.
This dish local to Gifu Prefecture is made by roasting vegetables together with chicken that has been marinated in sauce containing a mixture of soy sauce, miso soy paste, and other ingredients. It is said to originate from the mutton dish known as “Genghis Khan” in Japan.
Text and photos by: Yoshiyuki Kekke, traveloguer
Certain photos courtesy of: JR Central/SONIC RAIL GARDEN
Certain photos courtesy of: Central Japan Railway Company/Sonic Rail Garden/Kotsu Shimbun Service
*Data contained above is as of August 2013.