The SL Ginga is a local train line that runs through Iwate using classic steam trains. Here is some information about the trip through Iwate that you can take on them!
1. What kind of train is the SL Ginga?
This is a steam train that runs on the JR Kamaishi Line between Hanamaki Station and Kamaishi Station. This is the train line that was the setting of 1941's "Night on the Galactic Railroad," written by the famous fantasy writer Kenji Miyazawa, who was born in Hanamaki. Items modeled after the story are strewn throughout the train, and there's a gallery relating to him and his work in the train as well. The train largely runs on weekdays and holidays. All the seats are assigned, so you must pay to board and for a seat.
Seat fee: 820 JPY (incl. tax) for adults, 410 JPY (incl. tax) for children
2. Sightseeing Spots Around Hanamaki Station
Ogase Falls is a famous waterfall within the Ogase Onsen hot spring resort. The water falls in a straight line 17m down for an impressive sight.
Kamabuchi Falls and Hanamaki Onsenkyo
Kamabuchi Falls is a nationally designated place of scenic beauty. The clear stream flows over a height of 8.5m and a width of 30m, and the calming, refreshing view of the water falling into the basin is popular. You can enjoy bathing in hot springs in the Hanamaki Onsenkyo area, and the Hanamaki Onsen Rose Garden is also popular. There are about 6,000 roses of about 450 varieties within the grounds of more than 16,500sq.m..
Hanamaki Onsen Rose Garden entrance fee:
Between mid-May and late May: 500 JPY
Between late May and early July (during the Rose Festival): 800 JPY
Between early July and early November: 500 JPY
Free throughout the rest of the year
3. Enjoy the scenery outside of the windows of SL Ginga
After you depart from Hanamaki Station, you'll be able to see the Sarugaishi River to the right after you pass Shin-Hanamaki Station. The river runs through the center of Tono Basin, and you'll be surrounded by the peaceful scenery from all sides.
Take a commemorative photo at Miyamori Station and cross Miyamori Megane Bridge
There's a 15 minute break at Miyamori Station, and you can take a photo with the SL Ginga on the platform. Right outside of Miyamori Station is the Miyamori Megane Bridge, another popular photo spot. The word "megane" in the name means "eyeglasses." For people who want to take lots of photos, you can alight at Miyamori Station and 10 minutes away from the bridge is the Michi no Eki Miyamori, a service area.
4. Take a break at Tono Station
You have a break of more than an hour at Tono Station, so you can have lunch or visit some sightseeing spots.
After you depart from Tono Station, you'll enjoy the tranquil scenery and before long the train will enter a valley. You'll soon reach Sennin Ridge, the area said to be the hardest part to go over on the Kamaishi Line. As soon as you pass it, you'll reach Kamaishi Station, the final stop, in no time.
5. Sightseeing around Kamaishi Station
You've finally reached Kamaishi Station. You can enjoy plenty of fresh seafood from the Sanriku area and various sightseeing spots here.
This Dai-Kannon is a white chalk Kannon statue that stands on a hill from which you can see all of Kamaishi Bay. It's 48.5m tall, and the inside is broken up into 13 floors. Various Kannon deities are enshrined here, and you can enjoy the observation platform.
Entrance fee: 500 JPY for adults, 300 JPY for middle to high school students, 100 JPY for elementary school students
Please consider adding the charming SL Ginga to your itinerary!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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