Have you ever wondered what you might find if you simply got off the train at some random station and walked around?
Maybe a station that you have passed numerous times while commuting back and forth to work. Recently, as I have written previously, I have made it my STAG (short term achievable goal) to try and visit every station on the Kintetsu Nara Line 近鉄奈良線 and Kintetsu Osaka Line 近鉄大阪線, where most of my students come from, before we take our spring vacation.
Every town and station in Japan seems to be “very famous” for “something” so… I have made it my challenge to find out if that’s true. I sometimes do a bit of research beforehand and try to print out a map, but I often just show up and discover the area as I go.
On one of my recent expeditions, I decided to get off the train at Hyoutanyama Station, 瓢箪山駅, which is located about 25 minutes of Kintetsu Namba Station ,近鉄難波駅, on the Kintetsu Nara Line.
As soon as I got off the train I was overwhelmed by the flurry of activity surrounding the station!
This place has a very vibrant “downtown” feel to it with a seemingly never-ending shopping district called “Sun Road Town” サンロードタウン. Shopping arcade connected to shopping arcade consisting of every possibly imaginable kind of stores. The hustle and bustle is electrifying and I personally like these kinds of places. I like to take my time and gawk at all the various goods for sale as well as imagine how long some of these shops have been here. I was told by one shop owner that Hyoutanyama Sun Road shopping district ,瓢箪山商店街, is the main shopping hub between Ikoma and Namba.
After this I decided to head off to The Hyoutanyama Inari Shrine, 瓢箪山稲荷神社, which is a Shinto shrine, housing the 3 Japanese gods of harvest, built on the west side of the Hyoutanyama Tomb 瓢箪山古墳. The tomb is reported to have been built in the 6th century and the story also goes that in 1584 Hideyoshi Toyotomi transferred Fukube Inari, the harvest god, to this shrine as he was building Osaka Castle.
Perhaps the most interesting thing I learned about Hyoutanyama Inari Shrine , 瓢箪山稲荷神社, is that this the birthplace of the “Tsujiura” style of fortune-telling 辻占. Legend, or fact, depending on who you ask has it that this is the true birthplace of the ever so famous fortune-cookie! Apparently, ages ago it was very difficult for people to travel to this shrine in order to have their fortunes told so the temple priests came up with the idea of sending the fortunes to people enclosed in a cookie!
These cookies go by various names, such as “tsujiura senbei,” (”fortune crackers / 辻占煎餅”), or “omikuji senbei” (“fortune message crackers /おみくじ煎餅”). I’m sure you have all seen these various kinds of fortune crackers sold throughout Japan, in supermarkets, train stations, convenience stores, etc. Well, supposedly this is where they originated.
I also learned that Hyoutanyama Inari Shrine , 瓢箪山稲荷神社の夏祭り, is the location of a very lively summer festival where people come out in their yukatas to enjoy different attractions and the various delicious festival foods sold by street vendors. I love those summer festivals so I will be sure to return.
Finally, if you feel energetic you could challenge yourself to walk from here to Hiraoka Park, 枚岡公園,and check out Hiraoka Shrine, 枚岡神社,and also to continue from there on to Ishikiri Station, 石切駅, and check out Ishikiri Shrine, 石切神社. There are signs pointing the way and I wrote about both of these locations in earlier posts. I recommend checking them all out yet I personally prefer to travel by the train.
Once again I learned about this interesting place from one of my students at Smiths School of English in Fuse and I’m glad I decided to check out the area. I may have never stopped there if it had not been for that student and so I may have never known about the true birthplace of the fortune cookie!
I have already put a few other places on my “to visit” list and I am well on my way to completing my STAG (short term achievable goal) for spring 2009.
Alessandro “Alex” Stanciu
Smith’s School of English Fuse
月謝制 の スミス 英会話 布施 校