Do you ever take the train between Hofu and Tokuyama? If so, you know that the stretch between Tonomi and Heta is quite beautiful. The tracks here hug the coast, providing wonderful views of the ocean to the south and of mountains covered with wild forest to the north. The view here is worth the price of the ticket!
But I always wonder about this stretch between Tonomi and Heta: Where is it, and how do I get there? Recently, my wife and daughter and I tried to find out. After eating some delicious soft serve ice cream at Soleine michi no eki, we turned off Route 2 onto a small road and headed towards the mountains. We went through two tunnels beneath the expressway and then up and over a mountain pass. On the other side, we found the little town of Shirodani sitting quietly next to the sea.
We drove through Shirodani, feeling like we were far, far away from Hofu and Tokuyama, somewhere deep in the mountains, maybe even back in time. It was very peaceful there.
Continuing through the village, we found a little road and decided to follow it through an old, dark tunnel.
Old tunnel outside of Shirodani
After bumping through the dark, wet tunnel, we emerged to find the sea and forest and mountains and nothing else other than train tracks. The sea here was very beautiful. Two men in boats were collecting oysters, but they were the only people around.
Quiet spot on the sea between Tonomi and Heta
After a few minutes enjoying the view, we heard the sound of a train approaching. Sure enough, it was the yellow train that goes between Hofu and Tokuyama. So this was indeed the spot I had seen from the train. We had found it!
My daughter and I watching the train approaching
We stayed here for a little while enjoying the peace and quiet. We walked down to the sea, and my daughter and I walked into the water a few meters, looked at colorful old shells on the sea floor and watched fish jump into the air.
Amazing that we were only about ten minutes from Soleine, but we felt like we were deep in doinaka. What a pleasant and surprising side trip! :)