Field Report: Tsuyama (05 April 2013)

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Where Diego joins a queue, stares at sakura, and rides a ninja train.

Another clear and sunny day. More cherry blossom (and castle) hunting ahead!

After breakfast, I headed for Okayama Station and brought myself to platform 9. Today’s ride was going to be the 8:43 local train bound for Tsuyama.

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Tsuyama is famous for the ruins of its massive 16th-century castle – supposedly one of Japan’s grandest back in its heyday – but it’s probably even more famous for its cherry trees. Many of those trees are planted right at the castle site itself, creating the perfect opportunity for a castle enthusiast to do a bit of hanami whilst gaping at the walls and fortifications.

Of course, all those sakura make Tsuyama a prime cherry blossom viewing spot – a fact not lost on many of the locals, if the queues at the platform were anything to go by.

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And here’s our ride: a solid-looking, if somewhat aged, specimen of the JR diesel fleet (a KiHa40 DMU from the looks of it). I haven’t seen a lot of diesel trains in my travels through the country, but there are still quite a few of them out there, chugging along on non-electrified stretches of the JR network (such as the Tsuyama Line).

All aboard!

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The route from Okayama to Tsuyama. Whilst lacking any particularly jaw-dropping sights, the scenery along the way was refreshingly beautiful to look at: light suburban giving way to patches of agricultural land, with quaint little towns and countryside stations strung along the track. I sorely regret not snapping any pictures during the ride; it would’ve made a good addition to my album by showcasing a side of Japan that one doesn’t very often get to see.

After the end of the journey, I exited the station and made for the tourist information office. The helpful staff spoke almost no English, but with my limited command of Japanese I managed to understand the directions they gave for the castle.

In due course, I arrived at the spacious castle grounds and began my walk through the ruins.

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Perched on the edge of one of the castle’s upper enceintes was a beautiful turret, which had been rebuilt just a few years previously.

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It was still quite early but there were already lots of people on the castle grounds, enjoying the sakura and the pleasure of one another’s company.

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The upper sections of the fortress offered great views of the surrounding city . . .

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. . . but with the trees in full bloom, there’s no doubting that the blossoms were the star of the show.

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There were also some great views to be had from the trellised walkway (conveniently lined with benches) that ran right along the edge of one of the walls.

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Now for a closer look at that turret we saw earlier.

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Some of the castle’s fortifications, including the base upon which the tenshu once stood. A few parts of the castle defences had been lovingly restored, with sections of plastered walls rebuilt on top of the surviving stone foundations.

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Time to head back to Okayama. I bade farewell to the castle, snapping a few more images along the way to the exit.

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At the station, I was very pleasantly surprised to find that the train I was about to board – a KiHa 120 DMU – had those decorated carriages that the JR network puts out for limited periods (mainly for promotional purposes). This particular one had a loud, colourful Naruto theme.

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Not a fan of the series myself, but I do happen to be an anime enthusiast, so the ride turned out to be an excellent way to finish my long day of sightseeing.

2 responses to “Field Report: Tsuyama (05 April 2013)

  1. Pingback: Diego’s day on the Naruto train | ディエゴの日々·

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