Last year, the venerable Nikkei Newspaper created a list of the Top 10 Train Stations to visit. Our favorite local station, Obasute, was listed as #2. The station is unique because it is on a Switchback. In days past, the steam engine trains couldn't make the steep grade and had to do switchbacks on their way up. Obasute Station is located on one, and even today you can see local trains literally backing into the station.
Obasute's station building itself is a cute, historical structure.
The view from the station is fantastic. During the day, you can see the Obasute terraced rice fields, famous for reflecting the full moon in each paddie ("Ta-Goto-no-Tsuki"). Some of the ancient haiku greats like Bassho and Issa came here just to see the moon reflecting in the rice paddies. At night, you can see the lights of the Zenkoji Plain, making for a spectacular night view. The view is so nice, in fact, that Obasute Station has been selected as one of the Top 3 "Views from the Train Window" locations in Japan.
And on top of all of that (literally) is Obasute Mountain, from the famous legend about taking the elderly ("Oba" means old lady) and throwing them away ("Sute") at the top of the mountain. Add all of that up, and you get the #2 station in Japan to visit.
That was last year. This year, yesterday's issue in fact, Nikkei made a new list: The Top 10 Places to View the Moon. And this time, Obasute was listed as #1!!!! The "Ta-Goto-no-Tsuki" rice paddies are getting some well-deserved recognition. Besides the moon reflections, just below Obasute Station is Chorakuji Temple. The temple has its own moon-viewing building, "Tsukimi-Dou". How cool is that?
The timing of this Moon Viewing Award couldn't be better. Coming up on September 13th through the 15th, Obasute will hold their 25th annual Moon Viewing Festival. There will be a haiku contest, a guided walk, special illumination at night of Chorakuji, and much more. Shuttle busses will provide access from our Onsen, Togura Kamiyamada.