I’m in Sanda now, visiting old friends from last summer. Since I’m only going to be here for about a week and a half (then I have to go back to Tokyo for school), I’m spending a different night at each place. I moved homestays this morning, to ばあちゃんandじいちゃん, an elderly couple that I’ve grown close to.
We ate a short lunch and then じいちゃん (a little kids way of saying grandfather), said we were going to go ride a famous train that ran over the river, so we all piled in the car and drove off. I was a little sleepy, so I drifted off, and woke up two hours late – we were still driving.
We ended up driving all the way to Kyoto (about a 3 hour drive) – I was surprised, but it was my first time in Kyoto.
We rode on the Sagano Romantic Train.
I highly recommend the train to anyone in the Kyoto area – it was a tremendous amount of fun. So I decided to write a travel review of the Sagano Romantic Train. This is the first time I’ve ever written a travel review – so be kind.
Cost: ¥1,200 round trip + ¥500 for parking (or train fare – you can get to the station by the JR line).
For a more specific breakdown of the cost, they have a cute, convenient picture next to the ticket booth.
Hours of operation: The first train (from Kameoka) is at 9:35AM and the last train you can take back to your starting location is at 4:30PM. We ended up catching the last train back, because we weren’t aware of the timetable. Be careful, if you miss the last train, a taxi back is an extra ¥2,500 (and you can’t get refunded for your original ticket).
Furthermore, the train does not run on Wednesdays, and has very specific days of operation:
March 15th – April 7th
April 28th – May 5th
July 21st – August 31st
October 15th – December 14th
So just watch out.
In any case, without further ado, let the review continue.
When you get to ”Torokko” the station and park your car, go up the stairs that look like this:
The sign basically says Torokko station. If you want to go on a romantic horse carriage ride before you board the train, you can do that too. They had several adorable horses, of all shapes, sizes, and colors by the sides of the stairs. Some of the horses even had braided hair. If you want to go on the horse carriage, look for a sign about halfway up the stairs, like this:
This is actually one of my favorite signs because of the adorable horse. I love the animations in japan. The yellow sign says “This is the place you buy horse carriage tickets.” Because we were running late, we skipped the carriage ride.
The horses looked sad…
One you get to the top of the stairs, you can buy your tickets. Make sure to actually look at the timetable to buy your tickets… because you have to pay for the specific time, car, and seat number. However, on neither of the legs did anyone actually Check our tickets…
The train takes you to a historic town in Kyoto… so unless you parked your car at the station, you don’t necessarily have to take the train back. It’s your choice?
We did a round trip ticket… we got there JUST at 3:30, and so didn’t have any time to walk around the village. We rode the train (about 25 min each was) up, then turned around and rode it back.
Luckily, we only had to wait five minutes for your train, but the trains run every hour… so if you’re waiting, you have three options:
1. Blood type horoscope.
For a mere ¥100 you can get your horoscope by blood type and birth month! Hooray! They even trust you enough to put in the money yourself, and not take the horoscope without paying. I was impressed. I ended up not getting my fortune told by the pre-arranged cards, not because I wasn’t interested or couldn’t read, but because when I was about to pay, じいちゃんjust kind of smirked and was like “That’s a waste of money, I will tell your fortune for free!”
Apparently I’m going to be rich, beautiful, happily married, and die after I turn 100. Not bad for a free fortune.
2. Your second option is a little more boring.
It’s a waiting room.
However, it’s the only room in the station that is air-conditioned (in the summer) and heated (in the winter)… so you be the judge.
3. The third option is by far the most interesting. You get in line (at your specific car and wait).
We were in Car 3.
You also get a charming view of the Japanese raccoon (たぬき), which is famous among foreigners for their massive, hanging ball sacs.
No. I’m not joking. It was oddly disturbing… But even more funny was the face that じいちゃんand ばあちゃん didn’t understand why I (or any of the other tourists) were taking so many pictures.
(See, I wasn’t the only one taking pictures! The group of Chinese tourists next to us were also highly amuses with the raccoons!)
Look at these raccoons.
LOOK AT THEM.
Ok I’m done. Sorry.
(Last one, I promise)
While I was taking pictures, the train arrived. It was a beautiful, vivid red. We got on, found our seats, and enjoyed the ride.
Here are some of the highlights:
(All the cars had to stop and let us go by. Everyone along the side of the rode was waving!)
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to walk around the historic town in Kyoto. Also, unfortunately, because it was the last train, we weren’t able to reserve a seat. When we got to the station, everyone filled off, then got in the back of the line. We had to stand the ride back.
However, じいちゃんandばあちゃんjust walked to another car and pretended they were at the front of the line – so we got a great standing position.
(look at those smiling rascals!)
On the way back, we saw a couple people who were white water rafting.
And further along the river we saw some people in a traditional Japanese boat.
It seems like the river was popular for all sorts of activities!
The pinnacle of each trip was where we crossed the river. They actually stopped the train and explained the history.
Apparently at the top of the hill, that tree that just kind of sticks out is a very famous spot to propose (hint hint). It’s supposed to be incredibly romantic and have a GREAT view!
Since it was so far away, this was the best picture I could get…
All in all, the train took about an hour (round trip) and was incredibly fun. I got some beautiful pictures (I’m no photographer, but I enjoy beautiful scenery as much as everyone else).
(Waiting at the station with ばあちゃん)
(ばあちゃん also loved the scenery!)
(On the train with じいちゃん）
If you are in the Kyoto/Osaka region, I definitely recommend the Sagano Romantic Train!
Add me on Google Plus: +Grace Buchele