Saturday, June 14, 2014

Kizugawa Trip


My first job in Japan was in the suburb of Sanda. Trains on the JR Fukuchiyama Line would originate there travel down the mountains to Amagasaki before going under Osaka city center and coming out at Kyobashi on the loop line. This line, Katamachi Line, would then curve over the mountains and down to a station called Kizu in far south of Kyoto Prefecture. I always wondered where the trains that I took on many a trip into Osaka would end up, but never got much farther than Kyobashi. On a whim a few Sundays ago I rode the line to the end starting at Kitashinchi after doing some shopping in Umeda.

Emerging from under the earth at Kyobashi, the double track then runs elevated partially through eastern Osaka city into the carpet of low-rise buildings that makes up Daito and Hirakata cities. Eventually more and more open areas appeared and more and more farms showed up and the train pulled away from Osaka city. At Matsuiyamate Station the line becomes single track and does some snaking through some nature only to quickly emerge back into the quasi-suburban quasi-rural landscape that the train runs through till its terminus at Kizu. The amount of new construction along the line between Matsuiyamate was quite amazing. Who is exactly buying all these houses? I looks like the cities in east of Los Angeles that were all built up during the housing bubble of the 2000’s. I guess that many of these houses are owned by families looking for more space, the Japanese version of the American Dream: a car, 0.7 kids, a pet, and an insanely long commute into the city for work.

It was interesting to finally see Kizu Station, named after the village and river its located in and next to. To the east are more and more mountains with less and less people. I have actually traveled through this station before taking the Kansai Main Line to Kameoka in Mie. Trains end up here taking the “low road” (as compared to the Katamachi Line’s “high road”) around the mountains starting at Tennoji Station. They head past Nara Station and Kizu Station before reaching the point where the express trains stop and the few and infrequent rural local trains start at Kamo.

I looked for a short walk from Kizu Station to another station near by and chose heading towards Kyoto following the JR Nara Line. After crossing the Kizu River I looped back under the bridge and cut through some heavy growth to get some photos of trains on the Nara Line crossing the Kizu River. Hopefully one will show up on next years train calendar. It was great being there under the bridge, listening to the birds, watching the water, and waiting for the next train so I could snap some more photos.

Back up and over the banks I found my way to Kamikoma Station passing by some great old buildings and a maccha farm. The little park in front of the station was so serene covered in long late afternoon shadows. Taking the next train I eventually cut over to the Kintetsu Line and got to Ikoma where I found a classic sento for a well needed bath and headed home (via the “middle road”). A great day exploring in the early summer.