In April 1898, the Kansai Railway Co. opened an 8km branch connecting the town of Kamo to a station beside the Daibutsu (Great Buddha) of Todai-ji Temple, in Nara Park (aptly named Daibutsu Station). The area flourished as a popular sightseeing spot. Then, a year later, in May 1899, the line was extended a further 2km to Nara Station.
In August 1907, a new and level route going from Kamo to Nara, via Kizu, opened. Troubled by steep slopes , the Daibutsu Railway services halted and, in November of that year, the line was closed after just 9-years in service.
The new line, which was incorporated into the already existing 'Kansai Main Line', is nicknamed the 'Yamatoji Line', and still operates to this day, more than 100-years after opening.
An artists impression of 'The Inazuma SL' (Cardinal Train) as it passes over one of several abutments between Kamo and Nara Stations.
The thoughtful people down at the J.R. Promotions Department, have created this map of the course that, supposedly, follows the route the Daibutsu Railway took.
I have hiked/cycled parts of this course over the years, and am familiar with some of the sites. So, all decked-out with what I need for this trip - cameras, food, drink, appropriate clothing e.t.c. - I shall head-out from Kamo Station to walk to Nara in search of the Daibutsu Railway.
|J.R. Kamo Station.|
|C 57 Steam Locomotive.|
It wasn't long before I was bidding farewell to the town of Kamo, and entering the lush green rice-fields that make Japan so picturesque at this time of year. This is my kinda' environment and I am in my element whenever I enter, either on foot or on two-wheels, areas such as this.
Not far from where I am standing, camouflaged by the out-of-control vines in the distance, is the first of six abutment relics.
If you are here at the right moment, like I was, you should be able to experience the A 221 E.M.U. passing by. Looking in the distance, under the bridge, is where I took the previous photo.
With no copestones, or other decorative features, the Kajigatani Tunnel is simpler than the other structures. The front bricks are in English Bond, and the arch are in Stretchers Bond. The tunnel was used as a passageway and an aqueduct.
The time has just turned 12pm, and I have already been on the track 2-hours in sweltering heat and am looking for a place, in the shade, where I can stop for a break.
And, just like 'that', my prayers have been answered. And with a toilet too. I never thought an ice-coffee and current buns could be so appreciated. It had been just over 5-hours since I last took-in fluid and food.
Sitting at my bench I look-around at my surroundings and admire the view. In just over a kilometer from where I am, my surroundings will change dramatically as I am about to be engulfed in the residential surroundings of Nara City.
|The Vestige of Isekigawa Bridge.|
No evidence of the bridge, or it's abutments, are here to remind us of that era so long ago destroyed. I was able to track-down the above images of the construction of the Isakigawa Bridge.
The narrow lanes and dirt tracks of the past 3-hours have now been replaced by the asphalt sealed footpaths, pedestrian crossings and controlled intersections. What a shock. If it hadn't been for my map, I would have missed the next site.
|The Vestige of Kurogamiyama Tunnel.|
You wouldn't believe it, looking at this image, that, until 1966, there was a tunnel here. This was the site of the only tunnel on the Daibutsu Railway. Today it's route-44. Difficult to imagine what this scene looked like back when the service was still in operation.
From here I make my way down route-44, past the Nara Television studios, the Nara Youth Hostel, many other shops and eateries, to an indistinct intersection, and my next stop . . . .
|The Commemorative Park of the Daibutsu Railway.|
|The Sahogawa River Bridge.|
|J.R. Nara Station.|
So, until next time, Sayonara.
Course details and images - https://ridewithgps.com/trips/10345007
Video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=odoRA9aLics