Tsuwano JR Station (津和野駅) is a train station on the Yamaguchi line. From Shin Yamaguchi JR Station, we boarded SL Yamaguchi train, crossed the prefectural border between Yamaguchi and Shimane and eventually arrived at the terminus station in Tsuwano-cho, which is referred to as the “little Kyoto of San’in region”, after a two hours long journey. In my impression, this is a very peaceful and quaint remote town surrounded by mountainous landscape, making it an excellent getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life. In fact, I would have missed out visiting Tsuwano-cho if not for SL Yamaguchi. Glad that I made it here eventually to uncover this paradise in San'in region.
Tsuwano-cho Tourism Association: http://tsuwano-kanko.net/en/
Limited express trains serving this station include:
(1) Limited Express Super Oki (おき), commutes between Tottori and Shin Yamaguchi, via Kurayoshi, Yonago, Matsue, Izumo-shi, Masuda, Tsuwano, Yamaguchi and Yuda Onsen.
(2) SL Yamaguchi (SLやまぐち号) , a steam locomotive driven sightseeing train which operates on weekends and public holidays, and makes one round trip between Shin Yamaguchi and Tsuwano.
- 8521 Train: Shin Yamaguchi (1050 hrs) > Yuda Onsen (1106 hrs) > Tsuwano (1259 hrs)
- 8522 Train: Tsuwano (1545 hrs) > Yuda Onsen (1714 hrs) > Shin Yamaguchi (1730 hrs)
SL Yamaguchi: http://www.c571.jp/
This is the most scenic spot in Tsuwano-cho, which gave rise to the name "little Kyoto of San'in region". Tsuwano-cho once flourished as a castle town and remains of samurai residences, recognised by the white walls, lined along this street. The approximately 200 m long, spacious stone-paved road with ginkgo trees planted along its sides is a pretty sight to behold and capture under the lens.
What I felt most intriguing was seeing numerous koi fishes swimming in the long stretch of canal along the street! We were truly surprised by this unusual sight and like many visitors, we stood or squatted near the canal to admire these colourful fishes swimming gracefully in the waters for quite some time before heading towards the direction of Taikodani Inari Shrine. The street was much livelier on the weekend as most visitors came here via SL Yamaguchi train just like us. There are shops nearby where visitors can purchase fish food (100 yen/packet) from to feed the koi fishes. Purple and white irises planted in the canal bloom from late May to mid June, enhancing the beauty of this street further.
(2) Tsuwano Catholic Church 津和野カトリック教会, about 8 minutes walk from train station.
Opening hours: 0800 - 1730 hrs; Nov - Mar: 0800 - 1700 hrs
This church with a western Gothic architecture outlook comes into sight when you crossed over from Honmachi-dori (本町通り) to Tonomachi-dori. Founded by a German priest in 1931, one feature unique to this church is that conventional pews or long benches are replaced with tatami mats here. With sufficient sunlight coming through the stained glasses, bright and beautiful colours are imprinted temporarily onto the tatami mats creating a mesmerising kaleidoscopic effect. Do remember to observe silence in the church while admiring the fine architectural features closely.
(3) Taikodani Inari Shrine 太鼓谷稲荷神社, one of Japan's five most important inari shine is about 30 minutes walk from train station.