Translated by Greg
Osaka's Kayashima Station: See A 700 Year Old Tree On The Platform!
Kayashima Station in Neyagawa city is known for a camphor tree standing in the middle of its platform. The view of the tree sticking out through the station's roof is quite memorable. Today we introduce Kayashima, a town different from the usual Osaka.
Written by Anna Namikawa
Is there really a camphor tree sprouting out from atop a train station?
Quite honestly, when my friend in Neyagawa city (Osaka) first told me about this, I only half believed it. However, when I hopped on the Keihan Railway train and actually visited Kayashima Station, my previous doubts were firmly put to rest. Well, if it isn't a large camphor tree poking its head out from the roof of the station!
Today we'd like to introduce a slightly less familiar kind of Osaka, different from the bustling downtown areas of Umeda and Shinsaibashi.
A Giant Camphor Tree That Pops Out Through the Roof
Home to Kayashima Station, Neyagawa city is a bedroom community for many residents who make the daily commute to neighboring Osaka.
So as you might have guessed, the symbol for Kayashima Station is this huge camphor tree. It's a seven hundred year old tree that stands twenty meters tall, with a trunk circumference of seven meters! While keeping a watchful eye over the Kayashima area and the people who live there, the tree continues to be loved by all the local citizens.
Originally, the tree was standing outside the station. But in 1972, an expansion project that would see the station extend as far as where the tree was standing, was approved. The initial plan called for its removal, but the news caused a huge uproar among the locals, who had a strong attachment to the tree. This ignited a debate on whether to preserve the tree, or cut it down.
After much discussion, it was decided to preserve the tree in order to pass it down to future generations. This resulted in the tree being where it is today, surrounded by the station platform. So this unique station building currently exists, thanks in part to the strong support of the local people.
Word has it that superstition might also have played a part in the successful preservation of the tree. After the station's expansion project commenced in 1973 (completed in 1980), stories began circulating about people experiencing misfortune and disease after trying to cut the tree down. This rumor might be one of the reasons why this camphor tree has continued to be carefully looked after, even today.
Situated right at the base of the camphor tree, under the main part of the station platform is Kayashima Shrine. While I was there, some passersby stopped in and paid a visit.
Let's Go for A Stroll Through the Kayashima Area
Now let's go for a walk through Kayashima, an area that has flourished along with the giant camphor tree.
As mentioned above, the area around Kayashima Station is essentially a large residential area. For that reason, camera-toting visitors are apparently unusual here, and on the way there I was greeted by elementary school children and local residents.
The first stop on our walk is the Kayashima Chuo Shotengai (shopping street). Located due east of Kayashima Station, this shopping street gives you a glimpse into the daily lives of the local citizens.
We highly encourage a visit to the Kayashima Chuo Shotengai, but please take note that many shops are closed on Wednesdays.
A Shop Where 1000 Dorayaki Are Sold in A Single Day!
Going towards the main part of Kayashima, I asked some people what the town is famous for. It appears that it's known for the dorayaki (kusudora) sold at Mamuta, a Japanese confectionery shop located west of the station.
Mamuta first opened for business in 1950. According to Mamuta's owner Hideo Yamamoto, Kayashima wasn't very well known, even in the Osaka area, so the staff decided to create a special product. After pouring their energy and resources into this project, they came up with a tasty Japanese sweet.
Mamuta's special product is a dorayaki called kusudora (140 yen). During the busy season, they sell up to one thousand dorayaki in a single day, and up to twenty thousand per year, accounting for roughly one-third of the shop's overall sales. So Kitakawachi (nickname for the surrounding area) has gained renown for this delectable confection.
Just like Yamamoto-san confidently stated, Mamuta's dorayaki is indeed the softest dorayaki in all of Japan. The outside has a light and fluffy texture, and the inside is filled with sweet anko (azuki red bean paste), giving this treat a sophisticated taste. Without a doubt, this was the best-tasting dorayaki I've ever eaten.
If dorayaki was no longer made, it might not have an adverse effect on people's daily lives. However having said that, about one hundred customers visit Mamuta every day. As Yamamoto-san chuckled, he proudly stated that this was proof that his shop has the support of the community.
If you're ever in the Kayashima area, be sure to pay a visit to Mamuta and sample one of their delicious dorayaki.
How was today's visit? Kayashima is a small town that's not written up in any guide book, and is perhaps a little different from your image of the Osaka area.
Today the giant camphor tree continues to keep a peaceful watch over the town and the surrounding area. While imagining what kind of lifestyle people in this town have, visiting places recommended by the locals might be an interesting way to spend part of your day.
Mamuta (near Kayashima Station)
Address: Osaka, Kadoma, Kamishimacho 48-2
Closed: Closed on Tuesdays
Credit cards: JCB, AMEX accepted
Other Languages: Japanese only
Nearest Station: Kayashima Station (Keihan Railway)
Access: 5 minutes on foot from the west exit of Kayashima Station
Cost: From 130 yen and up
Official Website: Mamuta (Japanese)
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