Friday, April 29, 2005


Echo and I had taken the regular JR train along the Hozu River gorge from Arashiyama in NW Kyoto before, but we'd never taken the famous Torokku train (which once an hour makes a 25-minute run along the old track section from Arashiyama-Sagano, traveling the edge of the cliff above the river gorge to Kameoka, then immediately heading back the other way; 600 yen one way) so we decided to do that today and take Kaya with us, since she's a Thomas the Tank Car fanatic.

The scenery along the gorge is spectacular enough at any time of year (renowned for cherry blossom time and Autumn) - you can travel down the river by boat most days in Spring and Summer, we passed a lot of boats along the way - but the Torokko train (5 cars), a little open-car chuggy red-and-yellow train, is endearingly rickety and satisfactorily clickety-clackety to win the heart of any train lover four years old and above.

The train was perfect, the weather was perfect and by strange chance we arrived everywhere right on time; the only thing that at first seemed a drawback was that we'd picked the first day of Golden week to do it, as had several million others, looked like, but the family crowds were as festive as crowds can be, so it was one big party after all.

Everyone was in the best of moods, even the conductors and the long-haired Oni (demon) that rode the train and got off at every stop to dance around on the platform, help with the boarding and deboarding, give the kids a happy fright. Kaya had a great time (she loved when it all got dark, cool and noisy in the tunnels); she waved to all the boaters on the river and was beloved by all the grandmas on the train.

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