By Sakura Matsuoka
“What a nice scent of yuzu！”My mother delighted. I thought that the scent came from Yuzu Onsen, Umaji Onsen. Umaji Village is a village where you can feel the scent of yuzu the moment you enter.
“If you are going to take the train, please come here！”Mr. Nakagawa, who is the central figure protecting the Umaji Forest Railway, said. “Yeah！”A variety of people board, parents and children with young children, and middle-aged couples. The train starts moving with many tourists on board. “It feels so good！”One boy said. Adults take pictures of the scenery seen from the train.
“Last summer, I had no time to have lunch because there were a lot of tourists！”When I rode Incline. In the summer, many people come to Umaji Village to play in the river opposite the forest railway, and it seems to be very busy.“I want to come again！”Many children were saying.“Me too”I thought.
Umaji Forest Railway is important for people who live in Japan or come from foreign countries. Recently, there are many famous tourist spots in Japan. For example, in Kochi, various tourist spots are introduced through Instagram and so on. However, there are many attractive tourist spots in areas such as countryside and mountainous areas where information spreading through SNS is not active. Looking at such areas will help protect the culture of each area. It will also give you an idea of society. By taking up this topic, it is possible to realize the attractiveness of the area, which is not usually noticed, and it is thought that it will lead to economic effects. In this way, I would like to discover and disseminate the charm of the area, which is not usually taken up. For whole society.
Umaji forest railway has a model railway. Yanase forest railway. Yanase forest railway is a national railway that actually used to carry timber, and has a long tradition. In 1911, the track of the Yasuda River Forest Road Main Line, which became the origin of the Yanase Forest Railway, was opened. After various changes for 80 years, the mini forest railway modeled the Yanase Forest Railway at Umaji Onsen was completed in 1994. Yanase forest railway is located so far from center of Umaji village, and in the deep mountain. Furthermore, there are few tourism spots near the railway. For these reasons, Umaji Forest railway was made for tourism. Umaji onsen is opposite side of the Umaji forest railway, and a wide river that can be safety played in the summer runs near it. Before coronavirus spreading, many families with children came to swim in the river. Not only tourist but also children who live in Umaji Village can go to Umaji onsen after swimming in the river and riding Umaji forest railway and incline. It can be said that it is a good model course for tourists.
However, there is a serious problem in Umaji Village. What do you think of when you think of the countryside? “Shortage of workers is one of the most serious problem in Umaji Village now.”Mr. Nakagawa said. Workers who work at forest railway and around there are mainly elderly people. Currently, the Umaji Forest Railway is supported by elderly people who have retired from the village office and so on, and no successor can be found. Also, forest railway runs four or five times a month and is like a volunteer. This is a serious problem that is often seen in depopulated areas.
“The customer’s face changes. I am very happy to be able to talk directly with customers from various regions on that day.”Mr. Nakagawa, who is a leading figure in the Umaji forest railway said. According to him, there is a lot of tourists who visit Umaji village came from various prefectures. It is very fun and meaningful for Mr. Nakagawa to talk with various people and seeing the happy faces of the customers. Umaji Village, which is calm and rich in nature, may heal our daily fatigue.