Sponsored by Mino City
I know what you’re thinking. Surely paper can be found everywhere, on any budget, with only size, shape, colour, thickness and whether you’re going to opt for lines being the only variables, but Mino City does something a little special with paper. It takes it back to its roots (no pun intended). Using a thousand year old hand process, it turns some gloopy, snot-textured sludge in a bucket, into something truly beautiful, delicate and intricate. Match the historical beauty of Mino Washi paper with the beautifully archaic buildings lining the streets of Udatsu town, and you create an atmosphere like no other. Mino City will truly surprise you with what it can do with paper, changing your outlook on the simple white stuff forever.
Getting to Mino City, by Trains
As you travel from the grandeur of the Shinkansen to the familiarity of a regular train, to the tiny, archaic, single carriage one in an awash of stunning reds, you are transported from the fast paced life of Tokyo to the serene, old fashioned reality still existing in Mino City. It’s a journey truly befitting its destination.
The Comforts of a Shinkansen with a Mount Fuji View
If you are in Tokyo, your journey begins when you board the JR Tokaido Shinkansen bound for Shin Osaka (Hikari no.501). With copious amounts of leg room, tray tables, actual free train wifi during certain stops and even plug sockets, the hour and a half journey to your transfer station at Nagoya flies by. And if such comforts and conveniences aren’t enough to get you on board, how about the chance to get a close look at Mount Fuji as you cruise past the unique Japanese landscape. If you book your ticket in advance and pay a few hundred yen extra, you can reserve yourself a seat (one guaranteed with a view of mount Fuji if you like) and, knowing how busy some of these Shinkansens can get, it is something I would highly recommend.
The Super Express
From Nagoya, take the JR Tokaido line & Takayama Line train (Wide View Hida Super Express No. 3) bound for Toyama and get off at Mino Ota station. It’s speedy, relaxing and actually quite similar in style to a Shinkansen on the inside, without the added bonus of plug sockets. You can reserve a seat on this train too if you like. It seemed much less busy than the Shinkansen, but for a few extra hundred yen, I think a guaranteed seat is more than worth it.
All Aboard the Little Red Train!
Up to this point, your trip will cost just over ￥11,000. However, it can be covered entirely on a JR pass, but eitherway, you’ll need to buy a ticket for the last leg of your journey.
Go through the gates at Mino-Ota station and follow the signs to Nagaragawa railway. At the bottom of the stairs you’ll find a ticket machine, train staff and the cutest little red train you ever did see. The machine is quite simple to use if you play the kanji matching game. Simply put ￥630 (the fare price) in the machine, find the 美濃市 button and press it. Voila! You have a ticket to present to the train driver. Alternatively, simply say ‘Mino-shi’ to the station staff and they’ll do the rest for you, but come on, which is more rewarding?
Is There Another Way?!
There are various other ways to venture to the mystical paper land. You could go from Nagoya to Mino-Ota via Tajimi, or even take various buses to Mino-Shi instead of the tiny railway with sparse departure times. And, while the bus might get you there quicker, there is just something so nostalgic about waiting on a deserted platform for a train that takes me back to my youth.
Whether you come for the annual Mino Washi “Akari” Exhibition in October, stroll around the various historic buildings in Udatsu town or take up some water sports on the beautiful, serene lake, Mino City is the perfect retreat for anyone looking for a little peace and escapism. And, with it being only a few hours away from Tokyo, it’s the kind of relaxation that is not too difficult to achievable.