Photo:Tetsuji Sakakibara from Tokyo, Japan on Wikimedia Commons

An Amazing Suspension Bridge and Thomas The Tank Engine – Sumatakyo Valley in Shizuoka

Sumatakyo Valley is a rural area of Japan a few hours west of Tokyo and has so much to do off the beaten path. As you travel Japan, especially when you are in more rural areas, we highly recommend asking around for advice. That is how we found so many unique experiences on our 50-day runAway Japan adventure. A prime example of this is when we were in Sumatakyo Valley in Shizuoka

As soon as we arrived in the area (by running almost an entire marathon through the mountains!) our first stop was the Sumatakyo Onsen. Our sore muscles were in desperate need of the relaxation granted by the hot springs, but onsens are a relaxing ritual for anyone to enjoy. After the onsen, we stayed the night at Kyumusou Ryokan.

Staying in a ryokan is an affordable way to stay in Japan and get an authentic experience sleeping in a tatami room on the foldable floor mattresses. A traditional Japanese breakfast is often included with your stay.

No trip to Sumatakyo Valley is complete without seeing and crossing the heart stopping, Yume No Tsuribashi. This rope bridge crosses a river and connects two valleys in this region. The name of the suspension bridge, "Yume", means dream and that it was! Hanging over the clear waters of the Oma Dam Lake and offering a one of a kind view of the valley, it’s a dreamlike experience. That being said, the suspension bridge is not for the faint of heart because wood and suspension cables are all that is between you and the lake below. However, being brave and crossing the bridge is well worth it.

Last but not least, we were able to catch a special ride out of Sumatakyo Valley on our childhood hero. All of us at the runAway team grew up with Thomas the Tank Engine, so it was nostalgic to see him in person and ride through the mountains! The experience is so fulfilling! It was a blast watching children (of all ages) excited to be riding in their idol. The train leisurely chugs along with breathtaking views and to top it all off we got souvenir magnets! Getting the chance to ride the real Thomas the Tank Engine was the perfect send off for our time in Sumatakyo Valley.

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