Ise Honkaido 11: From Yokono to Taki

We are nearing the end of our travels on the sacred pilgrimage to Ise Grand Shrine. We’ve left the mountains between Nara and Mie behind and now we follow the Ise Honkaido along the Kushidagawa River and into the beautiful Mie countryside. Along the way, we saw many interesting things ranging from a striking gorge to a beautiful field of flowers. 

See here for the other entries of our Ise Honkaido series. 

Ise Honkaido 11: Yokono to Taki

Yokono

Today, we resume our journey and will over another 20 km from Yokono to Taki Station along Kushidagawa RiverNational Route 166!

After taking a bus for almost an hour from Matsusaka Station, we arrived at Yokono. As a rare treat the Lawson near the station gave us a rare opportunity to stock up a little before we set out. The buses run once an hour here, so getting back to Yokono was “convenient” in terms of the places we’ve been on the Ise Honkaido. However, again we had a severe lack of signs to indicate our route. We’ve said this often before but it bears repeating: should you ever take this road you must have a map with you! Google alone is not enough! 

National Route 166 runs along the Ise Honkaido
National Route 166 can be dangerous because there is no sidewalk and traffic can get rather busy.
This former drugstore turn residence is more than a hundred years old.

Shortly after Yokono, Ise Honkaido goes through a little community called Fukano. Fukano is famous for not only producing traditional Japanese paper but is also the birthplace of Matsusaka beef. Along with Tajima (Kobe) beef and Omi beef, Matsusaka beef is some of the best beef in the country!. Sadly, we did see any livestock grazing– just a stone marker 10 minutes north of the trail indicating this is the birthplace of Matsusaka beef. I heard there is a beautiful terraced ricefield 15 minutes away from this stone marker, but sadly we didn’t have time to go as we’d just started walking!

large stone marker indicating th birhtplace of Matsusaka beef in Fukano on the Ise Honkaido
Birthplace of Matsusaka beef
National Route 166
The post town of Oishi Juku on the Ise Honkaido
The small Post town of Oishi Juku

Oishi

Near a little post town called Oishi Juku is Oishi Fudo-in. This temple is a rather large temple and is famous is for a natural habitat for mukaderan, a kind of climbing orchid. (It was sadly not in season when we were there.)

Oishi Fudo-in on the Ise Honkaido
Oishi Fudo-in

Also, right around Oishi Fudo-in is a little ravine along the Kushidagawa River called Kahada-kyo. Kahada-kyo is a famous gorge and has many nearby recreational activities including kayaking and camping.  The rocks along the riverside are very interesting as well. There are so many different kinds and formations! That might sound dull to some, but it really amazing to look at them!

Kahada-kyo Gorge on the Ise Honkaido
Kahada-kyo Gorge
Former Oishi Station on the Ise Honkaido
Former Oishi Station. Trains would arrive here from Matsusaka.

In Oishi, we were graced with a large supermarket and convenience store! It is quite surprising to have a supermarket in such a remote area, but I guess given that there is decent traffic on 166, it is maybe quite natural to have at least one supermarket here. 

View of Mt. Shirai from the Ise Honkaido
Mt. Shirai (in the far back) is 820m high
We’re really getting to know Route 166
Walking through here is very quaint.

Tsuru no Watashi – Ohka

Tsuru no Watashi on the Kushidagawa River and the Miyagawa were once the hardest and most dangerous rivers on the Ise Honkaido. Today, the flow of the Kushidagawa River has slowed and is a rather small river with a concrete bridge, so you may even realize it was such a dangerous place. However, given the nearby mountains, I can clearly see how the waters could get very rough. After this river is Taki Town and the trail will continue to follow the Kushidagawa River.

Kushidagawa River on the Ise Honkaido
the Kushidagawa River. It’s hard to believe so many drowned in this beautiful river…
Country road in Mie
Minamoto no Yoshitsune’s vassal, Ise Saburo, climbed this tree to observe his opponent
We walked all those mountains! I can’t believe it!

We found a random field of flowers during our  Ise Honkaido. We couldn’t find any website about this field, but I assume it is a community cosmos garden. It just seems too nice to be a free community garden though!

An endless sea of pink and white…

community flower garden onthe Ise Honkaido

It was around Halloween when we were there.

Gradually the small countryside roads gave way to more and more houses the closer we got to Ohka.

Hayame Jizo on the Ise Honkaido
Hayame Jizo: Jizo for curing toothaches.
A huge lantern built in 1845

Ohka

Ohka is another post town on Ise Honkaido. There are several interesting things around here includingMatsukasa Mochi, a famous mochi store. Sadly when we went there the store was closed, so we bought another famous souvenir from Ohka, candied sweet fish! This choice turned out perfect as it was so really tasty, especially with rice.

We also stopped by Izawa, a historic district located on the opposite shore of the Kushidagawa River from Ohka. Many wealthy merchants once lived in Izawa and there are still some old mansions left. 

Matsukasa Mochi on the Ise Honkaido
So sad Matsukasa Mochi was closed…
Candied Sweet Fish. This is awesome!!
Marker for the beginning of the Kumano Kaido along the Ise Honkaido
Marker for the Kumano Kaido: The Kumano starts here
Izawa

Ohka – Taki

There is a JR station Near Ohka (the JR Ohka Station) however, trains come only once every two hours! But, just another 3km down is the Taki, where there is much more frequent service to Matsusakas, where you can change lines for Nagoya and Osaka. 

There are not so many things along the way, but it is definitely a nice walk in through the countryside to Taki.

huge rice field!!
Wideview Nanki in Taki
Beautiful.

After the community bus stop at Higashi Ikegami, we arrived at Taki Station just 10 minutes later. All in all, we walked 6 hours from Yokono! From Taki, it is only three stations to Matsusaka and from Matsuaka it is only an hour and a half to Osaka and Nagoya. It is amazing how close you feel to Osaka if you take trains, but we walked more than 100km from Osaka!

Taki Station

In our next post, we will finally arrive at Ise Grand Shrine!!

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