You may find a number of local trains which you may ride during your relaxing trip to the Tohoku region, where you may enjoy an abundant amount of nature. This article introduces 5 of these train lines, where you may experience a calming time as you gaze upon the panorama from the train seat window.
1. Gono Line
This is a JR Line that connects Noshiro station in Akita Prefecture and Kawabe station in Aomori Prefecture. Here you may view the most beautiful scenery at the boundary of the prefectures such as the Japan Sea on the western side, whose waters wash ashore the massive rocks, where the train runs across the marine shoreline, as well as the mysterious Shirakami mountains on the east. It would be a good idea to try the tourist train that departs from Akita station (or the New Aomori Station, or Hirosaki station) called "Resort Shirakami". The seats here are at a reservation basis, so you must also pay for the reserved seating fee alongside the fare (520 JPY for adults). You are required to purchase a reserved seating ticket as well for the "Gono Line Free Pass" (3,810 JPY for adults) which lets you ride to and from Akita and Aomori station for 2 days without any limit.
2. Aizu Tetsudo
The Aizu Tetsudo connects West Wakamatsu station in Wakamatsu City and the Aizu Kogen Oze station in Minamiaizu, Fukushima Prefecture. This is a famous local line nationwide, where you may enjoy the castle town in Aizu Wakamatsu, as well as its city life and rich nature found in the scenery of Shimogo and Minamiaizu. You may also want to try out the "Oza-Toro-Tembo Train", which runs primarily from April to November on weekdays. The seats on this trolley train come in either the sunken kotatsu-type (low table over a hole in the floor) or the exhilarating trolley seats (observation deck seats that let you see a stunning view). Both will let you enjoy three spectacular views during the stops. You are required to purchase a trolley train ticket (310 JPY for adults) along with the passenger ticket.
3. SL Ginga
The SL Ginga connects the Kamaishi Line from Hanamaki Station to Kamaishi Station in Iwate Prefecture. This railway has "Night on the Galactic Railroad", a story written by Kenji Miyazawa, a famous poet and writer, as its theme. You may enter in the world of this nursery tale as you gaze upon the calming scenery. The interior of the train has a retro design based upon the era Kenji lived in (1896 to 1933). The train furthermore comes with gas lamps and stained glass, as well as a gallery of Tohoku region related works that the author loved. You may also find a planetarium, which is the first one of its kind to have been installed in the world. The SL Ginga primarily runs on weekends from April to September.
4. Tadami Line
The Tadami Line connects Aizuwakamatsu Station in Fukushima Prefecture and Koide Station in Niigata Prefecture. This is a famous line among railway fans as the number one line with the most beautiful scenery of autumn leaves in Japan. From the window of the train, you may see the view of the castle town in Aizuwakamatsu as well as that of the peaceful paddies. The Tadami Line runs across the Tadami River in between the mountains, which the most beautiful panorama being the area where the First Tadami River Bridge is located, in between Aizuwakamatsu Station and the Aizu Western Station. Here you may enjoy the wild cherry blossoms in the mountains in spring, the greenery in summer, and the vivid leaves in fall, which adorn the mountains and reflect on the river water. It would also be a good idea to have a look at the mysterious panorama of the pure white snow in winter.
※ Access to and from Aizu Kawaguchi Station to Tadami Station is currently halted, but will resume service from 2021 onwards
5. Kitakami Line
The Kitakami Line connects Kitakami Station in Iwate Prefecture to Yokote Station in Akita Prefecture. This train line lets you on a relaxing journey as you gaze upon the mountain view. Once you pass through the number of tunnels, you will be able to see the beautiful view of the Yuda Dam. Furthermore, you will be able to see the view of the Yuda Dam Bridge in between the Yuda Dam Station and the Hottoyuda Station, along with the greenery alongside the lake. The view of the autumn leaves here is the most spectacular. This area is also rich with hot spring spots such as the "Hottoyuda" located in Hottoyuda Station. Near Yuda Dam Station, you may also find cave baths and open-air baths such as the "Ana Yukko" in Tsukinukizawa, which can be accessible 15 minutes by car from Hottoyuda Station, where you may enjoy a sand bath.
You will be able to see wonderful sceneries along these local railways. There may not be a lot of trains that run per allotted period of time, but it would be worth riding the trains if you visit the Tohoku region.
*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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