Japan’s Most Beautiful Train Rides, A Hit List
Trains in Japan have become something of a point of national pride thanks to the high-speed Shinkansen. Since their arrival, train rides have become synonymous with hours of enjoyable travel in utmost comfort, surrounded by large windows that give way to spectacular scenery outside. Train aficionados are so prevalent that the Japanese even have a name for them, densha otaku. Pen Magazine has come up with a list of some of the most scenic train rides in the country.
Sagano Scenic Railway
The panoramic Sagano railway near Kyoto runs from Arashiyama and its famous bamboo forests to Kameoka along the Hozugawa river. The line is only 7 kilometres long, the perfect duration for 25 minutes of staring out of the window. The train runs at a moderate speed, allowing passengers to get out their cameras and snap away during the journey. Charming all year long, the journey is particularly romantic during springtime when the track is lined with blossoming cherry trees. Autumn is also a popular time of year to visit as the leaves turn and colour the route red and orange.
In the north east of Japan, the Gono line connects the cities of Akita and Aomori over around 150 kilometres, spanning exceptionally beautiful maritime coastlines. Having opened in 1908, it runs along the large stretch of untouched coast, providing a glimpse of the wilder side of the country’s landscape. It doesn’t take much to tune your ear and listen to the lapping of the waves. In order to break up the journey, it is possible to make a stop in Juinko and visit Shirakami Sanchi, a huge wild expanse of over 130 000 hectares. A UNESCO listed site, the park is full of surprises, such as the Aoike lake, attracting visitors from the world over to get a glimpse of its blue shores.
Kurobe Gorge Railway
Originally built to aid the construction of the Kurobe dam, the railway snakes between two gorges in the mountains north of Japan. Linking Unazuki to Keyaki-daira, the 80 minute journey rarely gets above 10mph, crossing over 20 bridges and 40 tunnels offering a breathtaking view across the country’s deepest gorge. Open from April to November, the line is most often frequented in autumn when the mountain becomes a kaleidoscope of bright oranges and reds. The picturesque journey is punctuated by numerous stops along the way, allowing travellers to discover the surroundings or take a dip in the natural springs.
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