Like the bamboo grove in Kyoto, but with less tourists and more beauty.
With roughly 570,000 residents across its 3,510 square-kilometre (1,354 square-mile) area, Tottori Prefecture is famous around Japan for being the country’s least populous prefecture.
However, there’s much more to Tottori than its number of residents, and our Japanese-language reporter Ikuna Kamezawa is always keen to attest to that, seeing as she was born there and often visits to see her friends and family, who still live in the area.
▼ Tottori Prefecture
Today, Ikuna is keen to share a secret gem from her home prefecture that’s a traveller’s dream destination. If this site was located anywhere else, it would be overrun by tourists and influencers wanting to snap that perfect “Aren’t you jealous of where I am?” photo for social media, but given that it’s tucked away in the mountains of Tottori Prefecture, it remains beautifully preserved and only visited by locals and those in the know.
▼ The road to the secret destination.
Ikuna actually planned to introduce this special site in an article back in 2019, but when she visited to take photos her story was rudely interrupted by an unexpected force of nature. However, after three years of staying away from her hometown during the pandemic, Ikuna returned to Tottori recently, and decided to finish the story she started.
First off, let’s take a look at the photos Ikuna snapped during her visit in 2019, to show just how little has changed at this beautiful destination. The sign below, for starters, was the only thing alerting visitors to the historic site, with “Former Japan National Railways Kurayoshi Line Taikyuji Station Ruins” written at the top of the sign.
As the name suggests, this was once a railway line used by locals, but today only a few reminders of its past life remain, including this sign, which once stood proudly on the station platform.
▼ This photo, also taken two years ago, shows how the sign and the platform have been reclaimed by the nature that surrounds it.
The ruins include a long stretch of abandoned railway line that hasn’t been in use for around 37 years. This section of the railway, located between what used to be Taikyuji Station and Yamamori Station, the final stop on the line, remains beautifully preserved.
These photos show the path Ikuna took when she visited with her friend two years ago. The two of them skipped over the tracks like carefree schoolgirls, remembering the childhood stories their grandparents had told them about the train that ran on this line so many years ago.
The entire railway is located in a picturesque patch of nature, but when you get to this stretch of the tracks, things become even more magical.
▼ The light hits different in a bamboo forest.
It’s no wonder that influencers everywhere have been wanting to find out where this site is when they see photos of it on social media. You can take some awesome photos here, and unlike the world-famous bamboo forest in Kyoto, which is cordoned off from visitors and doesn’t have the beauty of a disused railway line running through it, you won’t have to spend time editing people out of your photos afterwards, because you can stroll through this bamboo forest completely alone, without anyone else around you.
▼ There aren’t many places in the world where you can take photos like this one
As Ikuna stood next to a grove of bamboo actually growing through the railway tracks, she felt like a magical bamboo fairy. But then, the quiet beauty of the scene was shattered with one tiny “bzzzzzzzzz“…
▼ “What’s that buzzing sound?” Ikuna though, as she gazed down at a small stream of water running through the thicket below.
The buzzing grew louder and that’s when she saw it… or them, to be exact. It was…a horde of mosquitoes!
Ikuna and her friend were forced to cut their magical photo shoot short as they raced back along the tracks beneath the bamboo canopy to save their skin from the blood-sucking flying insects.
▼ Judging by the growing welts on her hand, Ikuna should’ve escaped sooner.
Ikuna’s mosquito incident occurred three years ago, in the height of summer when she had a lot of skin exposed. Ever since that day, when her magical walk through the bamboo was rudely interrupted by those insects, Ikuna has been patiently waiting for a chance to return to the bamboo thicket to finish the article as she had planned.
Her chance to return finally came in early April, when there would be no danger of mosquitoes in the area. However, this time, she had to park 600 metres (0.4 miles) away from the site, whereas previously, it was possible to park right next to it.
▼ New sign directing visitors to the area.
Ikuna was happy for the new route, though, as it gave her a different view of the old railway track as it ran through the backstreets of the town.
The countryside stroll was quiet and peaceful, and the only other living thing Ikuna saw during her travels was this friendly ladybug who landed on her backpack.
As she walked alongside the railway tracks, the landscape changed from residential to agricultural and even spiritual, with a group of jizo statues looking over her route.
▼ Jizo are believed to be protectors of travellers and children.
Though she was born and raised in Tottori, Ikuna had never known about this picturesque path before. It was a lovely way to enter the area, and this time when she laid eyes on the Taikyuji Station Ruins sign, she felt strangely more relaxed and at ease than she did when she first saw it three years ago.
Ikuna smiled as she began her walk along the tracks, noticing how clean it was compared to her last visit. Back then it was neat too, but this time it looked like it had just had a fresh spring clean, with less weeds and dead trees along the path, making it easier to walk through.
▼ The tracks are well looked after by locals in the area.
It didn’t take long for Ikuna to enter the shelter of the bamboo grove, and it was just as beautiful as she’d remembered it.
Ikuna was on her own this time, so she set up her camera to take the photo above, and she’s happy to report that the whole time she was there, not once did she hear the sound of a buzzing mosquito.
▼ She was able to continue along the tracks as well, all the way until she reached a closed tunnel.
After doing some research, Ikuna found that this tunnel is open to the public on select dates as part of a paid walking tour, so be sure to check the schedule online if you’d like to take a look inside.
Whether you’re looking to snap that perfect photo for the ‘Gram or simply enjoy a magical stroll off the beaten path where tourists are yet to tread, the Taikyuji Station Ruins is a great little secret gem to explore next time you’re travelling around Japan.
Just remember to cover up if you’re planning to visit in summer, or maybe just avoid that season altogether and plan ahead for a spring visit, when you’ll be able to avoid the mosquitoes and take part in a zany Dinosaur Race while you’re there!
Kyuu Kokutetsu Kurayoshisen Taikyuji Eki / 旧国鉄倉吉線 泰久寺駅跡
Address: Tottori-ken, Kurayoshi, Sekiganecho Taikyuji
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
[ Read in Japanese ]