Enjoy Fabulous Views from the Windows! Traveling by Train on the Gonosen
Gonosen is extremely popular among the Japanese as a local train to ride at least once in a lifetime. Here are its appeal and recommended tourist spots.
What is Gonosen?
Gonosen is the JR line that runs between Higashi-noshiro Station and Kawabe Station in Akita and Aomori respectively. The line covers 147.2km in length and has 43 stations in between. It is a popular line that often places first in rankings of trips on local trains in Japan. Its appeal is the beautiful scenery that can be seen from the train windows, including the Sea of Japan to the west of Japan and the mystic Shirakami-sanchi, a World Heritage Site. The two day free pass, Gonosen Free Pass (3,810 JPY (incl. tax)/adult, 1,900 JPY (incl. tax)/child) is the most economical option for travel on the Gonosen.
The Tourist Train, Resort Shirakami
The tourist train, Resort Shirakami, is recommended for travel on the Gonosen. It slows down at all the famous sites, and there is a performance of the traditional Tohoku region performing art of Tsugaru Shamisen on board (on some trains). The windows are large and there are monitors attached to the ceiling that display images of the view from the driver's seat. There is also an observation space so that passengers can see varied scenes of both the ocean and the mountains. All seats require advance reservations (fare + seat reservation 520 JPY (incl. tax)).
The appeal of Gonosen is not just the scenery that can be seen from the trains, but also the tourist destinations along the way. One such destination is Senjojiki Coast. This is a coastline with ledges formed by the uplift of earthquakes and erosion by the rough waves. There are many interesting rock formations, including one that is called the Lion Rock, and another, the Yoroi (Armor) Rock. The name, Senjojiki, came from the story that a lord in the area had senjo (one thousand) tatami mats (approx. 1,660 square meters) set up for a party to enjoy the strange scenery. It is known as a place of scenic beauty for the site of the sun setting on the horizon. The local stop is Senjojiki Station.
Furofushi Onsen a famous open-air onsen bath with a fabulous view! It is in a rocky area facing the Sea of Japan, and is popular as a place where you can bathe feeling as if you have become one with the ocean. It is a rustic onsen bath that is closed when the weather is inclement, where you can soak in the bath listening to the sounds of the sea and feeling the ocean breeze. There are overnight accommodations, but if you are just visiting for the day, you can use the indoor bath, rest space, and restaurant as well. The local station is WeSpa Tsubakiyama Station.
Day use fee: 600 JPY/adult, 300 JPY/child (all incl. tax)
Lake Juniko in the foothills of Shirakami-sanchi is the general term for multiple lakes scattered across a vast forest of Japanese beech trees and is a famous destination for trekking and enjoying the forest. The most famous of the lakes is Aoike, which has a beautiful blue color that looks as if it is filled with ink. The mystic lake has a variety of appearances depending on the season, time of day, weather, and vantage point. There are many other places to see in Lake Juniko, such as Wakitsubonoike, which has the same blue color as Aoike, and Nihon Canyon, with beautiful white cliffs. The local station is Juniko Station.
DAZAI Museum is the house that Osamu Dazai (1909 - 1948), a writer beloved by many fans to this day, was born in, and is also the setting for many of his novels. It is now a museum displaying Dazai's manuscripts and books, but the building itself also offers a lot to see. It is a mansion that blends Japanese and Western styles with a traditional Japanese wooden structure and Western elements such as brickwork. It is about 20 minutes away from the station in a taxi, but is well worth the trip. The local station is Goshogawara Station
Entrance fee: 500 JPY/general, 300 JPY/high school and college, 200 JPY/elementary school and junior high school (all incl. tax)
There are many more tourist spots along Gonosen. It would be nice to take a relaxing train ride, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
*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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