Japan Railway & Transport Review No. 47 (Back cover)

New Japanese Railway Scenery 7
JR Central: Meisho Line

JR Central Series Kiha 11 diesel railcar leaving Hitsu Station for Ise Okitsu Station on Meisho Line. The 43.5-km line is a local passenger line belonging to JR Central running from Matsuzaka City to Ise Okitsu in a remote mountain area belonging to Tsu City, both in Mie Prefecture. The first line was built in 1929 between Matsuzaka and Gongenmae with subsequent extension to become the present line in 1935. In the JNR era, it was a candidate for abandonment but remained in operation because there was no parallel road or bus service on some sections. It has been operating regular one-man services since 1989.

Photo: (Photo: S. Hase)

Kitabatake Shrine is 5 km east of Ise Okitsu Station on the JR Central Meisho Line. It was built by the third son (Akiyoshi) of Chikafusa Kitabatake, a retainer of the Southern Dynasty in the Namboku-cho period (1336–92), when two rival lords disputed who had the legitimate right to rule Japan. In 1342, Akiyoshi built Kiriyama castle as a tactical base and became governor (kokushi) of Ise (now Mie Prefecture). Nine generations of the Kitabatake family provided good governance in the region for more than 200 years until November 1576 when Nobunaga Oda wiped out the family in his conquest and reunification of Japan. The shrine today has a garden typical of the Namboku-cho period and is a government-designated Special Place of Scenic Beauty and Special Historic Site. It typifies the sensibilities of the local ruling clan at that time and gives a good impression of the period.

Photo: (Photos: Kitabatake Shrine)