Japan is known for putting a fun twist to things that are often mundane in most parts of the world — and for this post, let’s take trains as an example. I’ve definitely heard of ones that were designed after kawaii (cute) characters like Hello Kitty and Pikachu. There are even onsen (hot spring) and ninja trains! But if you want something unique that’s new and more of a hidden gem, I would highly suggest that you check out Nankai‘s Kada Sakana Line Sightseeing Train: the Medetai Train!
I had the chance to ride this line and not only was it enjoyable to see the detailed designs that were used, but it was also exciting to explore one of its stops such as Kada, a charming seaside town. The best part? The Medetai Train is easy to make as one of the exciting day trips from Osaka that you can do when you’re already exploring Kansai region — all with the help of a NANKAI ALL LINE 2day Pass! (More details about this pass at the end of this article).
Where to Stay in Osaka…?
Come and check out my list of the ‘Best Hotels in Osaka‘ which features the top recommended choices for cheap to luxurious accommodation choices.
» About the Medetai Train
The Medetai Train is a cute and fun themed train that’s based after ‘tai‘ or sea bream — the representative seafood of Kada which is the line’s final destination. Since its launch in 2016, it lies on the Kada Sakana Line which goes through an area in which fishing is a major industry.
To date, there are 3 types of Medetain Train that operate on a timetable…
- Sachi: a pink train (with dominant red hues in its interiors) which is regarded as the mother train. This was the one that I rode when it was time to leave Kada and I just loved the warm colors that it exhibited — which is much like a mother’s warmth, if I may say so myself. The cute designs were not limited to scale prints on the train exteriors, the fish prints welcoming travelers by the door, the fish-shaped hanging straps to hold on to, the sea bream prints on the window and so much more!
- Kai: an aqua blue train which is the father train — and the first Medetai train that I happened to ride on as I was making my way to Kada. Much like Sachi, there was much to love about this train and my favorite would have to be the special seat where your feet will rest upon a print that will make you lo
- ok like you’re wearing fins! The straps were also designed after several marine creatures and the seaweed curtains on the ceiling were quite a nice touch too.
- Nana: a red train (with dominant yellow hues in its interiors) that represents the child of Sachi and Kai. It also best represents the 7 (or nana in Japanese) stations that the Medetai Train goes through. And like the mother and father train, there are a lot of similar design elements here that you can feast your eyes on! I didn’t get the chance to ride this one but as per the photos online, one of the interesting things in Nana are the hanging straps which have omikuji or fortune slips on its back, as well as the daruma (traditional doll) that swings on the walls as the train moves!
- It helps to note that since the train runs through a rural area, you can sometimes find yourself with little company — thereby giving you enough time to explore the train and take photos!
» Destinations & Things to Do
As I’ve mentioned before, the Medetai Train lies on the Kada Sakana Line — a nickname for the Kada Line of Nankai Electric Railway that runs between Wakayama City and Kada. (All of the following stops can be accessed if you hold the NANKAI ALL LINE 2day Pass — more details about this pass at the end of this article)
I only had the opportunity to explore Kada, the last station’s region, but it was more than enough to make my trip memorable!
- Kada: A beautiful port village that houses a wealth of quaint sightseeing spots that are not limited to the following:
- Awashima Shrine: A highly popular shrine for the Japanese, especially for those who pray for fertility and safe birth — as well as for those who want to donate their Japanese dolls. This is the reason why you’ll see a lot of dolls here! Apparently, in the Shinto belief, inanimate objects can develop souls over time. To dispose of them, it must be done properly so as not to have their angry spirits curse the owner. And so, this is where Awashima Shrine comes in because they can keep that doll until it is time to hold a ‘memorial service’ for them called kuyo. Apart from this, this shrine holds a popular festival on a Japanese traditional festival Hinamatsuri, the Girl’s Day Doll Festival (every 3rd of March). It’s called Hinanagashi, wherein they put all the dolls on a boat and drift it off to the sea.
- Mankou Syouten: A little restaurant near the shrine — but don’t let its looks fool you because their meals pack a punch! You’ll love indulging in its comfort food dishes that are all freshly sourced from the sea.
- Isonoura: A well-known surfing destination where you can happily ride the waves and enjoy its scenic beach! This is definitely the best stop to go for if you want to make the most of the summer.
- Nirigahama: If you’re seeking safe delivery for your future children, this is your go-to place. After all, it is the closest station to Iyatohachiman Shrine, a place venerated by locals since ancient times as a sacred spot. Otherwise, it’s a great place to try whitebait, a delicious local specialty.
- Nishinosho: Notable here is Kasei Park, a wide and open space where you can enjoy a picnic or do some sports together with family or friends. Though if you want to witness a unique Japanese dance, head to Kimoto Hachimangu Shrine to see Shishimai or the Japanese lion dance.
- Hachimammae: Get a glimpse of olden Japan through the town’s rustic buildings and ambiance — a perfect place to unwind and relax.
- Naka-Matsue: In Japan, there is such a place called Shakanokoshi, a tumuli (or mound of earth) spot where gold magatama (or a comma-shaped jewel) was first discovered. One might even say that it’s an auspicious location where you can inadvertently boost your luck on business and fortunes.
- Higashi-Matsue: History buffs will love the Nakano Castle, the base of Oda Nobunaga — one of Japan’s popular daimyo or feudal lords. Apart from this, the town is also known for its abundant steel manufacturing plants.
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Medetai Train Travel Guide
The Medetai Train lies on the Kada Sakana Line that is owned by Nanka Electric Railway, and it runs from Wakayama-shi station to Kada station.
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» How to Use the Medetai Train
Purchasing single-ride tickets are pretty straightforward, much like how you purchase train tickets in all Japan train stations: via a ticket machine in the station or via a train staff. However, as a visitor in Japan, it’s a must to purchase a train pass to save on time and money. As such, it is a great idea to make use of a NANKAI ALL LINE 2day Pass. It will not only grant you access to the Medetai Train’s Kada line but also to all of Nankai Lines that typically go to the top destinations in Kansai.
What is the NANKAI ALL LINE 2day Pass? It’s a train pass granting visitors to Japan the ability to do unlimited rides on all the Nankai-serviced train lines and which also includes the Namba station-Kansai Airport station, Wakayama, and Koyasan lines.
VALIDITY OPTION: 2-day Nankai All Line for ¥2,000 (adults only, non-continuous use possible)
If you need help when riding the trains, just use the directions feature in Google Maps — I find this as a very helpful tool if I want to reach a certain place from a particular location. However, take note that Google Maps doesn’t work offline if you want routes or transportation schedules, so I recommend that you get a pocket WiFi or a SIM Card to stay connected online).
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» Visa for Japan
If you’re NOT a citizen of any of Japan’s exempted countries, you are then required to avail of a visa beforehand. (If you’re from the Philippines, you can read my guide on how to get a Japan visa in Manila here.)
- Check full visa requirements here as per your nationality.
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» Safety in Japan
Japan is one of the safest countries in the world with very low crime rates. I have been traveling solo to this country many times now and I have never felt unsafe even in the late hours of the night — however, this is NO excuse to get too complacent. ‘Little crime’ does not mean ‘no crime’, so stay vigilant and be “street smart” by using your common sense at all times.
Nevertheless, the Japanese people are one of the kindest and most respectful people I have ever met, so solo travelers don’t have much to worry in this amazing country.
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» Helpful Japanese Phrases
Japan may be one of the most developed countries in the world, but a lot of the locals don’t speak English. However, this should not discourage you from traveling to this country because apart from the fact that there are a lot of translation apps that will help you understand and speak Japanese, a lot of the locals are also making the effort to learn and use the English language.
- RELATED READ: Best translation apps for travel
Anyhow, below are some helpful Japanese phrases that will help you along the way! And even if you do encounter a Japanese who can speak English, it doesn’t hurt to say a word or two in their language.
Hello: Konnichiwa (Kohn-nee-chee-wah)
Thank you (normal): Arigatō. (Ah-REE-gah-tohh)
Thank you (less formal): Arigatō gozaimas (Ah-REE-gah-tohh goh-zahy-mahs)
Thank you (informal): Dōmo (DOHH-moh)
Yes: Hai (Hai)
No: Iie (E-eh)
Goodbye (long term): Sayōnara (Sah-yohh-nah-rah)
Goodbye (informal): Ja ne (Jahh neh)
Excuse me: Sumimasen (Soo-mee-mah-SEN)
I’m sorry: Gomen nasai (Goh-men-nah-sahy)
Is there someone here who speaks English?: Dareka eigo ga hanasemasu ka? (Dah-reh-kah ey-goh gah hah-nah-seh-mahs kah?)
Help!: Tasukete! (Tahs-keh-teh!)
Cheers!: Kanpai! (Kan-pie!)