Oct 21, 2016 Shiga
Part 2 - Kawake St.

Kawake Station is located in Shiga Prefecture near the beginning of the Hokuriku Main Line (北陸本線) in the first section from Maibara to Tsuruga in Fukui Prefecture. This is the top of Lake Biwa and is mostly taken up by the historic and beautiful Nagahama City. The main Nagahama Station has the old city which I randomly went to years ago and, sadly, haven't been back. I came to Kawake because it was the closest station to Sugatani Onsen, an onsen ryokan about 4km from the station. I had no idea what else was to be found in the area but I was pleasantly suprised.


Kawake Station 1

The station here gets 478 people a day. Not a bad number but not too huge either. I assume there is a decent amount of tourists coming through and the city has turned the station into a welcoming little Community House (コミュニティハウス). They have a little sitting area with a TV. The tables and chairs were made of wood and looked handmade--and I assume locally. There was a small section of omiyage and other trinkets. That included the very important local garbage bags you need to use if you want your trash to be picked up! Lastly there was a little window with a grandpa stationed there waiting to help. No one was checking tickets--and the ticket vending machines were out back by the platform.

I asked the grandpa for a bike. Again, I didn't know this station also had rental cycles it was just luck like Ohmi-Takashima. I think day use was ¥500 with a ¥500 deposit. The grandpa was very serious about me getting back by 6pm. I promised I'd be there before 5. When I told him I wanted to go to Sugatani Onsen he was also a bit surprised. None of the local guide maps covered the area out that far! Most people that come here are for the castle remains it seemed.

The bike was a bit nicer than the one at Ohmi-Takashima and had 3 gears on it! Fancy!

Kawake Station  2

In front of the station is this sign saying from top to bottom. 

  • This town is against organized crime.
  • This town has evening safety patrols.
  • This town is preventing juvenile delinquency.
  • This town is preventing the abuse of drugs.
  • This town is preventing traffic accidents.

The road

Taken along National Road 365 just before getting to the hot spring. What are those tall plants with the bright yellow flowers? Heading to the hot spring the road was pleasant with a slight incline. Lots of heavy truck traffic, but the sidewalk was good in most places. Going back there was a strong headwind that, even though i was heading down hill, made each push of the pedals a fight. 

Manuka Honey

I travel to New Zealand often for work and have seen this exact brand of manuka honey on the supermarket shelfs. It's a mid-level brand and I like their normal (cheaper) honey for normal eating. Manuka honey is a Chinese medicine / natural health product which seems to be growing in popularity each year. I heard it has antibiotic properties. Anyhow, I was surprised to see it the omiyage corner of the hot spring ryokan.

It was ¥2,800 which is about NZ$36 as of the day I post this (Nov 20, 2016). For this brand that's pretty expensive.

Sugatani Onsen 1

It's always interesting when a hot spring ryokan has its own Wikipedia page. Supposedly this spring has been used since the 15th century but the building you see now is from the 70's. I love these hidden little single hot spring hotels like this. They are always a unique experience and sometimes, like with Sugatani Onsen, you find some superb water in the baths. This place might get into my top 10 (If I ever write that! Ha!). Anyhow, it's a seriously great spring--do try to get out there. I'll link to the onsen review once I write it. Until then, here's the Sugatani Onsen website.

Sugatani Onsen 2

The hot spring is at the end of this little valley up against that hill. It's an amazing location. I took this shot on the way back to the station.


Local bus stop sign


Kawake Station

Kawake Station Info

  • ~1 hour from Osaka
  • ¥2.270 from Osaka
  • Shinkaisoku trains stop here they turn local after Maibara and get on the Hokuriku Main Line
  • There is a Family Mart about half way between Sugatani Onsen and the station. I didn't see much else for food or drinks
  • Bike rental available
  • Photos on Flickr