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Release | Yuki Konishi

Small trip on Donan Isabiri Tetsudo Line - Part 1


“Donan Isabiri Tetsudo Line” started operating on 26 March 2016, the same day as Hokkaido Shinkansen. This is about an hour railway line which connects from Goryokaku Station in Hakodate City to Kikonai Station in Kikonai Town. Isaribi Tetsudo Line which runs by the ocean is a recommended route for not only daily transportation but also small train trip. I enjoyed an intimate trip through Isabiri Tetsudo Line. 

道南いさりび鉄道の路線▲Esashi Line became Donan Isabiri Tetsudo Line as Hokkaido Shinkansen started the operation.

Enjoy ekiben and beer while taking a trip on a local train line by the ocean

 The trip started from Donan Isabiri Tetsudo Line “Kikonai Station”, which is a transfer station to Hokkaido Shinkansen. I bought ekiben, beer, and snacks at Michi no Eki “Misogi no Sato Kikonai” across the station, and got on the train. And I headed to “Oshima-Tobetsu” station first! 

道南いさりび鉄道とJR北海道の木古内駅▲Can not see the logo but the closer platform is Donan Isabiri Tetsudo Line Kikonai Station and back is JR Kikonai Station.

The train is one car. Isaribi Tetsudo Line holds several kinds of cars, but this deep blue car is called “Nagamare-Go”. “Nagamare” is a dialect of Southern Hokkaido, means “take time” or “relax”. 

 道南いさりび鉄道のながまれ号▲The car with illustrations of Mount Hakodate, fishing fire, and street lamps.

道南いさりび鉄道のながまれ号内のメッセージ▲There were messages from local people living in the neighborhood everywhere inside the station and the car. The messages were something to support the railway line or caring travelers, which were very heartwarming. 

サッポロクラシックと牛肉弁当▲My trip buddy is Hokkaido limited “SAPPORO CLASSIC” beer! By the way, this ekiben is “Hakodate Wagyu Bento”. Rice is Fukkurinko, a brand rice produced in Hokkaido, and soft stewed wagyu is Hakodate Wagyu. 

道南いさりび鉄道のながまれ号の車内から見る海▲The ocean seemed far at first, but it gradually got close! If you are traveling to Hakodate, make sure to sit on the right side. 

道南いさりび鉄道のながまれ号▲You get to see the ocean from a higher point of view after passing Kamaya Station!


Get off the train and head to Tobetsu Trappist Monastery

I got off at Oshima-Tobetsu Station. This is the closest station from “Tobetsu Trappist Monastery” so the building looked like a church. There are stained glass and statue of Jesus Christ inside the station. It is about 20 minutes walk from the station to Tobetsu Trappist Monastery. 

道南いさりび鉄道の渡島当別駅▲Oshima-Tobetsu post office is located in the same building as the station. At this post office, you can get a special postmark with the illustration of Tobetsu Trappist Monastery. It is a good idea to purchase a postcard and get a postmark here! 

The building of the church appeared finally at the end of long straight boulevard! The atmosphere is breathtaking and dignified which made me forget about walking such a long distance. 
Tobetsu Trappist Monastery was built in 1896 as the first Catholic boy monastery in Japan. Cookies and butter produced from Tobetsu Trappist Monastery is very famous. 

You can look around freely from outside, but it is limited to males if you wish to look inside. (You must make a reservation by sending a reply-paid postcard beforehand, and visiting is limited to 2 PM every Monday) You have to walk another 20 minutes, but you can also visit Lourdes with the Virgin Mary, too. If the weather is clear, you can get the view of Mt. Hakodate and Tsugaru Peninsula over Tsugaru Channel. 
The must-have here is special soft serve at Shop of Monastery. The soft serve mixes “Trappist butter” to fresh milk produced in the neighborhood of Hakodate, and is delicious as I expected from stories by others! I felt the aroma of butter slightly, but it did not have any heavy taste. I was also happy that “Trappist Cookie” was served with the soft serve instead of a plastic spoon.

トラピスト修道院の売店名物のソフトクリーム▲This soft serve is worth 20 minutes walk! Trappist Butter is used to the waffle corn as well. The soft serve is 350 yen. 
道南いさりび鉄道のながまれ号の車窓から眺める函館山▲You can see the side of Mt. Hakodate from the train between Oshima-Tobetsu Station and Moheji Station. 


There are more! How about another small trip along the railway?

I enjoyed more small trips between Kikonai and Kamiiso. Isaribi Tetsudo Line operates only once in one to two hours, so make sure to check the timetable before you go. 
How about other small trips along the railway?
I interviewed Yasuro Katsumata from Donan Isaribi Tetsudo Line. 

道南いさりび鉄道の勝又さん▲Mr. Katsumata is the leader of sales division of South Hokkaido Railway Company. He goes on short trips on holidays and trying to discover unknown attractions of Isaribi Tetsudo Line. 

“Kamaya Station is an unstaffed train station, but if you are lucky, you get to see Mitsuo and Miyuki Yoshida couple in the morning. They are the famous couple with charming smiles who take on outsource of selling tickets in this station from the time this station was operated by JR. They plant flowers around the building, decorate the building with handmade items, trying to create a friendly atmosphere at an unstaffed station.”

塩谷駅の簡易委託を請け負う吉田さん夫妻▲The 50 years married couple, Mr. and Mrs. Yoshida. There are railway fans who come here to visit and chat with them. 

塩谷駅の駅舎内は吉田さん夫妻の第二の居間▲The station looks like Mr. and Mrs. Yoshida’s second living room. There are messages written by travelers and commuters in the station notebook. 

“20 minutes from Moheji Station, there is Yafurai Tenmangu Shrine. The shrine started in the 15th Century and worships Michisada Sugawara who drifted to Yafurai Shore. “

矢不来天満宮▲Yafurai Tenmangu has lots of tales. 

I will introduce delicious food along Donan Isabiri Tetsudo Line in “Small trip on Donan Isabiri Tetsudo Line - Part 2”. See you then! 
  • Small trip on Donan Isabiri Tetsudo Line - Part 1

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Yuki Konishi