Farm to Table, Steam Locomotive & Bridge of Dreams
Take a journey on a steam locomotive deep into the forest covered mountains of Kawane, Shizuoka – discover turquoise waters nestled amongst a canvas of green, friendly locals creating farm to table Japanese cuisine, and one of the most epic valleys in Japan.
In the mountains of Shizuoka is an area known as Kawane, populated by a traditional community who have lived the same way for centuries. Kawane is still somewhat undiscovered at the moment, but slowly more and more people are visiting, but most are not seeing all that Kawane has to offer.
Many people already visit Kawane for its most popular attraction referred to as the ‘Bridge of Dreams’ or Yume-no-Tsuribashi. The bridge is only a short bus ride from Senzu station, which winds its way through a beautiful gorge called Sumatakyo.
Once the bus arrives, the bridge is a leisurely 20-30 minute walk and, if it’s not the weekend, there won’t be hordes of other visitors waiting to cross the bridge.
During weekends and peak season there may be cues to cross the bridge – if so you can explore the multiple paths up and around the bridge and surrounding valley. The Green shower road goes along the crystal blue stream of the Sumata River, while the Soto-moriyama hiking course goes to the Mt. Soto-Moriyama peak and the Sumatakyo promenade course passes through the bridge of dreams itself. . Each route links up and can be hiked in 1 to 2 hours, so you can actually try all of them in a morning or an afternoon.
Route details can be found here
When you’ve expended your energy and are looking to refuel, there is a small cluster of shops and eateries right at the entrance of the hike to the bridge. Sumptuous soba awaits. Right opposite is a classic local Japanese onsen, where you can refresh and recover tired muscles before moving on and exploring the rest of Kawane.
FARM TO TABLE
There are numerous Japanese style lodges around Kawane, known as minshuku. These are accomodation and restaurants combined into one. You stay one night in a traditional room with tatami mats, and two meals (breakfast and dinner) are included in the price. They are run by the loveliest locals and staying there feels like staying in someone’s home. While the bridge is frequented by tourists more and more, these homestay-like experiences where you interact with locals are still relatively unknown. The experience differs slightly depending on where you go, but the basic plan is you arrive in the early evening, settle into your room, and then visit the garden with the family and help to pick the vegetables that will be on the menu that night. From freshly picked tea leaves transformed into crisp tempura in front of your eyes, to freshly caught fish grilled over Japanese coals, the food is vast, fresh and enormously satisfying.
Food is the ultimate language. Even though some hosts don’t speak English, the language of food can bridge even the furtherest of cultural gaps. ‘Delicious’ can be the same in every language. The experience is so unique and heartwarming that you will want to assist in clearing the table or washing up, only the kind people will not let you help despite how much you offer to do so. You can book your farm to table experience through Mt Fuji Travel. And yes they can pick you up from the station!
ACCESS TO KAWANE
From Tokyo you can take the Tokaido shinkansen (bullet train) to Shizuoka station in about an hour. From Shizuoka station, take the local train to Shin Kanaya station (you may have to change at Kanaya station first), and then from there you can ride the Steam Locomotive (runs a few times a day) for just under an hour as it winds its way through the mountains tp Senzu station. From Senzu station, if you have booked your farm to table experience on the Mt Fuji Travel link above, then the local hosts will pick you up from the station upon arrival. Make a steam locomotive reservation here and take in the green of Kawane and explore Shizuoka!