Digging through my backed up iPhoto album, I'd realised that I'd completely failed to upload and blog about my 2013 trip to Japan. I'll be collating (and trying to remember) the photos and trips and hopefully write about them in due course.
This post is about a trip I took from Tennoji to Kansai Airport. Usually you'd just jump on the Nankai Rapi:t or JR West Haruka, but I had time to burn and new places to visit.
Why not take the express?
Scenery from a train window in Japan is, more often than not, impressive. It's not as educational as a TV, but the quality is realistic and the views picturesque. The audio quality is also fantastic and there's often a connection to the soul when one of the clicks or clacks actually physically interacts with you.
Realising this, I had decided to extend what would be a very short and fast trip into a long and thoroughly enjoyable one through the south Osaka countryside.
Kansai Main Line
From Tennoji, I watched the expresses depart southbound towards the airport and realised that 3 or 4 of them would reach my destination before me. I was in for a much longer trip, starting off heading east, instead of south, towards Oji.
This is the Kansai Main Line (the translation could also be "Kansai Original Line") which cuts across the Kii Peninsula from Tennoji through to Tsu. I travelled on the west side of it from Tennoji through to Oji, which uses an assortment of EMUs. Further to the east you switch to a DMU to get over the mountain range to Tsu.
Note that Google Maps correctly shows the name from Kamo to Namba as the Kansai Main Line. JR West has given the stretch from Namba to Kamo the nickname "Yamatoji Line" and runs the "Yamatoji Rapid" on it.
This line runs from Oji to Wakayama. From Gojo Station, the track parallels the Kino River (Kinokawa River? Kino River River?) giving the passenger some fantastic views. I was there in early Summer and there were carp kites hanging from cables strung across the breadth of the river. For the life of me I can't believe that I didn't take any photos.
This is the stretch of track from Tennoji to Wakayama. Multiple express trains run along here... The Haruka to the airport and the Kuroshio/Ocean Arrow to Shingu. I checked out Wakayama station, a junction for the Kisei Line and the Wakayama Railway Kishigawa Line.
This is the first station north of Wakayama on the Hanwa Line. The expresses don't stop... and there's a sweeping curve and bridge to the south, providing a great spot to get them coming through at full-tilt.
You then get great shots from the north with the mountain range in the background.
Heading north, the track enters a mountain range just after Kii Station. In the middle of that range is Yamanakadani Town. This little town has a tiny station where the expresses bolt through.
Further north, after the mountain range, the track makes it way towards the branch to Kansai Airport at Hineno. Two stations before this is Shinge Station. It's extremely urban and sees very much the same traffic. No express trains stop here.
The branch to Kansai Airport starts here. The Haruka Express trains therefore stop here to allow connecting passengers to continue south to Wakayama.
From here it was a quick transfer and trip through Rinku Town before arriving at Kansai International Airport.