A Walk in the Countryside of Oyama District – Part 1
Recently, I was asked to put together a ‘sample tour’ introducing some part of Tamba Sasayama for visitors. This is in preparation for the Osaka Expo 2025 as well as the reopening of the world at the tail end of the pandemic.
I decided to make a walking tour of my local district of Oyama, which I hope will be an interesting experience for visitors to our city.
Our Main Train Station Area
As Peter Hamann mentioned in a recent post, the Sasayamaguchi JR station is not in the downtown area. It’s located on the main trunk road (Route 176) that heads north/ south through the city. It’s also very close to the main E27 Maizuru-Wakasa highway interchange.
From this area around the station, apart from ease of access to the highway, a commute to Osaka is quite simple. From Sasayamaguchi station to Osaka main station takes 1hr 10 min by regular express train. For this reason, in the last few years there has been a growing number of new houses built in the station area, with young families whose parents commute to Osaka for work. This has resulted in a record number of students at the local Ajima Elementary school. A change from the all too familiar news in many Japanese cities of shrinking school attendance.
What Does My Area Have to Offer?
My district of Oyama is at the north western edge of the main Sasayama town area, it’s only a 10-minute drive from the main station. There are a few buses (approx. 3 per day) that go to and from Sasayamaguchi station via the downtown castle area, if you are using public transport.
At first glance it may not seem that Oyama has many things to offer visitors, but sometimes great treasures are hidden in plain sight!
For thousands of years people have inhabited this area. It lies on a main route from Kobe/Osaka cities to the Japan Sea coast. Recently, during construction work for a new road in the adjacent area of Ajima, some ruins and remains, including pottery, were discovered dating back to the Jomon period (14,000-300BCE).
The Tour at a Glance
For this tour plan, the route I decided to take starts on the old main road in the Oyama Shin area. At this spot there is an Elementary School, a small Police Station and a Post Office.
First stop on the left is the residence of Buryo Nishio.
There is a small temple on the right with some very large trees in the grounds.
The road meanders along with a long row of ancient and more modern country houses and visiting spots along the way.
The Oyama river that runs through the area, parallel to the road, is lined with different types of cherry trees and in cherry blossom season is a wonderful place to visit or even have a picnic as some people do.
Further along is the Mocca café , which used to be the house of a village headman in feudal Japan. Some parts of the house are renovated for today’s use, but many things are original. The lord of the area financed the original Kanegasaka (Meiji) tunnel.
A short distance from Mocca Café is Oire village and the remains of the Machiura Tumulus (Kofun), a 1,400-year-old tomb.
Continuing up the road there’s a stop at the Otte Shrine, which is home to the biggest fir tree in Japan, the Sen-nen Momi (The thousand-year fir tree).
For devoted hikers, that can be followed by a hike to the hanging rock and peak of Mt Gold (at 537m. it’s a 1200m hike from the entry point at Oire Shrine to the peak).
For those who think that might be a challenge too far, the next stops are the Kanegasaka tunnels (Japanese information & photos are available here).
For those who would like to take a break at the ‘halfway’ point, there is a ‘Café & dog garden’, it’s opposite the free parking area close to the Showa tunnel.
Finally, descending back into Oyama Shin, along the same route, to enjoy a delicious lunch at the Himalayan Waltz curry restaurant.