Showing posts with label trains. Show all posts
Showing posts with label trains. Show all posts

Monday, November 9, 2020

Okuizumo Orochi Train


Okuizumo is the region of Shimane wherein is set one of the most swell known of the Izumo myths, the slaying of the 8-headed serpent Yamata no Orochi by Susano. The Kisuki Line is a railway line that runs from lake Shinji up into the Chugoku Mountains and pretty much follows the Hi River which is the site of many of the Orochi stories.

The Orochi Train, a scenic, reservation-ony, train runs between Kisuki and Bingo Ochiai and has just two carriages. However the trainis only ever half-full as a reservation gets you two seats, one in the enclosed car, and one in the open car.

The line roughly follows the Hi River and mostly has great views. When it passes through tunnels the interior of the carriages are illuminated. As it approached the Chugoku Mountains they appear impassable, but at Izumo Sakana Station the train goes back and forth up a series of switchbacks, some of the few still remaining in Japan.

The train then follows a 190-degree curve followed by a 170-degree curve in the opposite direction before arriving at Izumo Minari Station, the highest station in the JR West network. You also catch a glimpse of the Orochi Loop, a road that corkscrews down the river below.

At Bingo Ochiai it connect with the Geibi Line which runs between Niimi and Miyoshi.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Sleeper Train to Nowhere


When I am not sleeping out for the night I always look for the cheapest type of accommodation possible, so I was delighted to find Blue Train Taragi for the night of my 40th day walking along the Kyushu Pilgriumage.

It is three carriages from the former Hayabusa sleeper train that ran, I believe, down to kagoshima and was discontinued in 2009.

One car has reception and a communal area that includes TV and wifi but the other two were sleeping berths which included single rooms. There are no bathing facilities on the train, but the low price includes a ticket to the onsen just across the road.

I have spent a couple of nights on sleeper trains in Europe,  but not yet in Japan. I had a pleasant night on Blue Train and would stay there again. Taragi is on the Kumagawa Railway upstream from Hitoyoshi.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Hisatsu Line

After leaving Kosenji Temple I face a dilemma in choosing my route. The next temple is almost directly north of where I am, but that is across a mountain range in a completely different drainage. For three days I have been following the Sendai River, and from here the river heads north up to its source high in the same mountains. An obviously logical choice is to take that route.

It would mean a 35 kilometer hike along a moutain/forest road with no settlements or vending machines so I would need to stock up on food and liquids. It would also mean climbing to a tad less than 1,000 meters above sea level. Its the end of November and down here in the valley it froze last night so at 1,000 meters it will be very cold. Not undoable, and an attractive option. My worry is that on the steep slopes on the northern side there may well be lots of snow and ice. The dirt road closes in Winter and may already be closed.

I cautiously decide to backtrack and go over the mountains at a lower point. There is an expressway paralleled by a main road but I really don't want to deal with so much traffic..... especially as there is a good chance that the sidewalk will be non-existent in places. I decide to take the train!!!

The Hisatsu Line is a delightful train line that runs from Yoshimatsu over the mountains to Hitoyoshi in Kumamoto with some great views of the Kirishima Mountains. Its one of the tourist trains with floor to ceiling windows and wooden interiors. On the way up the train stops several times to reverse and negotiate a set of switchbacks. Several time the train stops for passengers to enjoy the views.

On the other side of the pass the line does a 360 degree loop before negotiating another set of swirchbacks. Here I get off and look for a place to sleep out before carrying on down the mountain on foot the next morning

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Kyushu Railway History Museum

Kyushu Railway History Museum

The Kyushu Railway History Museum is located right next to  Mojiko Station in Kitakyushu.

Housed in the original headquarters of the Kyushu Railway Company, it will appeal to railway buffs and kids.

There are lots of engines, including several steam trains, as well as sleeper carriages and other rolling stock, most of which can be boarded and explored.

There is also lots of historic paraphenalia and a train driving simulator.

Buy dokudami herbal tea from Japan

Friday, April 22, 2016

Nogata Memorial Hall of Coal

On the other side of the railway tracks to Taga Shrine in Nogata, Fukuoka,  is a small museum on the local coal industry called the Nogata Memorial Hall of Coal.

My father was a coalminer, as was his father, and I grew up near a big coal mine, so I have a particular interest. As a young lad I was a trainspotter so also have a soft spot for old steam engines of which there were a couple on display complete with puffing and whistling soundtrack

Most of the interesting stuff is lying around outside, but there are some displays inside.

I wrote a lengthy article on the place and the history of coal in Japan which you can read here.

The coal industry was closed down by the government with great hardship to many communities in Kyushu. Not because the coal ran out..... it is still there,.... but because middle eastern oil and nuclear were much cheaper.....

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Yamaguchi Go Steam Locomotive

One day in Yamaguchi City 5953

One more manhole cover in Yuda Onsen features the white fox, this time in combination with one of the last steam trains in Japan, the Yamaguchi Go.


It stops in Yuda Onsen after starting from Shin Yamaguchi Station. It then runs to Tsuwano up in the mountains of Shimane. It runs most weekends and holidays between March and November.


The locomotive was built in 1936, and each of the carriages is fitted out in the style of different rail eras. The train is very popular so advance bookings are needed.


The train stops in Tsuwano for sebveral hours allowing passengers the chance to explore the town before heading back to Yamaguchi.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Recommended Japan web resources

These are five websites that I access regularly, and for those living in Japan, or those interested in visiting, they all offer valuable information.

Japan Map

This is the complete geologic survey map of Japan. From the home page, click either of these

and you are taken to a map of Japan. Click on the map where you want to see, and again at the next level. The contour map is zoomable, and scrollable. Train stations, Post Offices, schools, shrines, temples, etc are all marked. A word of warning.... Japan is building new roads constantly, and in some cases the map has not been recently enough updated to include the changes, also many of the footpaths that are marked have fallen into disuse and no longer exist. I sometimes double-check with Google Maps, but it is still the map I print out and refer to on my walks, wether in countryside or city.

Hyperdia timetable

For finding routes and times for train journeys in Japan, this site is excellent. Not only that, but it is simplicity itself. Enter start point, destination, date, and time, and hey presto the first 5 choices are shown. It works with all the private rail lines as well as JR, and also includes connecting buses. Completely detailed with changes, waiting times, and ticket prices.

ZNET Japan

In-depth articles by many good historians and journalists that cover the issues you won't read about in Japan's banal and incredibly non-controversial media. Labor issues, Japan's international relations, Article 9 and military, historical revisionism, etc. much of this material is translated from Japanese. There is also a small set of links to other alternate media sites on Japan.

Encyclopedia of Shinto

This is a huge site, and is the complete translation of the Encyclopedia of Shinto into English. Laid out in the original chapters, the online version has added short videos and an excellent search function. If there is anything you want to know about Shinto, this is the place. I write a lot about shrines and ceremonies, and often this is the only place to find information in English. Any shinto terminology in my blogs that you aren't sure about, definitions can be found here.


This is a directory of thousands of the older, major, Shinto shrines in Japan. The opening page gives you a clickable map of Japan. Choose your area, and the left of the page is a list of shrines organized by old province names. Each shrine page has many photos, all the relevant historical information, and a map link.