Traverse the Japanese Countryside on a Steam Locomotive! Oigawa Railway in Shizuoka



Traverse the Japanese Countryside on a Steam Locomotive! Oigawa Railway in Shizuoka


Did you know that there's a place in Japan where you can ride a retro steam locomotive through beautiful mountains and tea plantations?

Oigawa Railway in Shizuoka Prefecture is the only line with steam locomotives operating almost every day in Japan. It runs along the Oi River, from Shimada City's Shin-kanaya Station to Kawanehoncho Town's Senzu Station. It is composed of the Oigawa Main Line and the Ikawa Line, Japan's only Abt system railway.

Oigawa Railway


Southern Alps Abt Railway1

One of the locomotives is actually a reproduction of Thomas the Tank Engine, a character from the popular children books and TV series.
Thomas the Tank Engine

This area is blessed with many breathtaking sceneries, like the suspension bridge over Sumatakyo Gorge.
Sumatakyo Gorge

Purchasing Oigawa Railway Steam Locomotive Tickets

All seats on the Oigawa Railway steam locomotives are reserved. You can book your seats in advance from their website or by phone. You can also buy a ticket on the same day at the ticket counter if there are available seats left.
In the winter period (mid-December to mid-March) there are days when the steam locomotives don't operate. During the rest of the year they operate almost every day (1 to 3 rides a day). Since the schedule varies depending on the period and day of the week, please check the calendar in advance.

Steam locomotive schedule and reservation (Japanese)
Website (Japanese-only):

Steam locomotive schedule and reservation
Oigawa Railway2

Thomas the Tank Engine has enjoyed great popularity here since its launch in 2014. Now his friends James the Red Engine and Bertie the Bus have also joined the party! Thomas usually runs for a limited time in summer (mid-June to early October) and Christmas. In 2018, Thomas will start running from around June while James will follow suit in July. For the exact schedule, please visit Oigawa Railway's website.
James the Red Engine
James the Red Engine2
James the Red Engine and Bertie the Bus


Oigawa Railway

Start Your Adventure at Shin-Kanaya Station

The departure station for steam locomotives is Shin-kanaya Station on the Oigawa Main Line. It's only one station away from Kanaya Station on the JR Tokaido Main Line. The building still retains its appearance from when it was built back in 1926.
Shin-kanaya Station

■Oigawa Railway's Original Bento Box

At the front of Shin-kanaya Station is Plaza Loco, where you can buy train tickets and souvenirs. At the Loco Museum inside the building old locomotives and passenger cars are on exhibition and you can actually get inside them. The entrance is free!
Plaza Loco

When you go on a train trip in Japan, trying the local ekiben (lunch box purchased at the station) is a must! Here they have lunch boxes made with products from Shizuoka prefecture like green tea and shrimps.

Oigawa Furusato Bento Box
Oigawa Furusato Bento Box

Traditional bento box with rice balls, candied trout, boiled vegetables and cooked sakura shrimps. It comes with a postcard.

Thomas Bento

Thomas Bento


Thomas Bento2

Thomas-themed rice accompanied by side dishes like sausages and fried shrimps.

■Let's Get on the Steam Locomotive!

As you enter Shin-kanaya Station you'll be greeted by the magnificent steam engines. The puffing steam and the whistles will make you feel like you really went back in time. It's a trip that you will enjoy with all your senses, from the smell of coal to the sound of the steam.
Let's Get on the Steam Locomotive!

From the car window you can admire sceneries like cherry blossoms and tea plantations!

■The Train Conductors Are Also Cheerful and Fun Guides

The conductors on board are very special. They will entertain you with information about the train and the surrounding landscape, and even play some music for you!

The Train Conductors


The Train Conductors2

On the platform of Kamio Station you'll encounter some tanuki (Japanese raccoon dogs)! One of them is dressed as a train conductor.
Tanuki (Japanese raccoon dogs)

This region is famous for the production of tea. The fields along the Oigawa Railway are the most beautiful from late April to mid-May, during the very first picking of the harvest. The plantations become vivid green and you can smell the faint aroma of tea leaves in the air.
Oigawa Railway4

The area around Ieyama Station is a cherry blossom landmark. The best time to see them is from late March to early April. The wooden station building has a charming old-time atmosphere and is often used for filming movies and dramas.

Oigawa Railway5


Ieyama Station

After running through the tea plantations, the train will cross the Oigawa First Bridge. This is a popular photo spot because the train curves offering passengers a beautiful view of the cars.
Oigawa First Bridge

Once you cross the bridge you'll be able to see the open air baths of the hot spring facility Kawane Onsen Fureai no Izumi. Sometimes you can see people waving at the steam locomotive while they're taking a bath.
After Jina Station you'll go through 'Japan's shortest tunnel'. It's only 11m long and 5m wide.
Jina Station

Past Shiogo Station the train passes under the longest bridge on the Oi River, a suspension bridge that's 220m long. On your way back, I recommend taking the regular train that stops here and check out the bridge on foot.
Oi River

After passing Aoba Station and crossing three railway bridges, your steam locomotive journey comes to an end at the terminal Senzu Station. Here you can of course take a picture with the train and also see the railway turntable, where the train is turned the other way by manpower.

Senzu Station


Senzu Station2

Two More Exciting Sights Are Awaiting Ahead. Which One Will You Choose?

The journey doesn't have to stop here. Past Senzu Station you'll find two more treasures, both worthy of a visit.
One is the Southern Alps Abt Railway, which runs up a steep slope. The other one is the Sumatakyo hot spring.

■ Southern Alps Abt Railway (Ikawa Line)

This small train connects Senzu Station and Ikawa Station on a 25.5km route. The trip is 1 hour and 50 minutes long. Along the way is Japan's steepest railway! This train doesn't need a reservation.
Southern Alps Abt Railway2

It's a cute small train, with large windows to let you enjoy the view. It also has observation cars, not unlike the ones in amusement parks. The observation cars aren't always in use so consider yourself super-lucky if you manage to get on one!
Southern Alps Abt Railway3

As the train starts to move with a clattering sound and the stations start to go by,  get ready for a different landscape and charm.

Between Abt Ichishiro Station and Nagashima Dam Station the train switches to the Abt system. The train gets connected to the Abt locomotive, which supports the ascent on the slope. The Abt system was developed for mountain railways.
Don't be fooled by that cute face, this locomotive is very strong!
Southern Alps Abt Railway4

The Abt locomotive pushes the back of the train up the slope.
Southern Alps Abt Railway5

Coming out of the tunnel past Hiranda Station, you'll find yourself looking over a dam lake with the Oku-oi Rainbow Bridge stretching over to lake Sesso. There's a nice curve ahead!
Southern Alps Abt Railway6

The Okuoikojo Station is located between two bridges, surrounded by the beautiful emerald green lake surface.
Okuoikojo Station

There is a small attraction in this station. Here you can ring a bell called  "something forgotten by the wind" which is said to bring happiness to one's relationship, and tie a "locket of love". How can love not be fulfilled in front of such a breathtaking view?

Okuoikojo Station


something forgotten by the wind

From Okuoikojo Station you can get on a promenade parallel to the tracks and cross the iron bridge by foot.
iron bridge by foot

The Sekinosawa bridge between Omori Station and Kanzo Station stands at a height of 71m from the bottom of the river and boasts the highest bridge height in Japan. Try to peer with your head out of the window and look down!
This spot is particularly beautiful during the fall foliage season (early to mid-November).
Sekinosawa bridge

On the train, the staff hands out free bookmarks to passengers. These bookmarks contain real train tickets. Which station will you get?
free bookmarks

The rocking movement of the train curve after curve, the immense green landscape and a cute train running up a slope. Enjoy the surprises and pleasures unique to this railway, the thrill and exhilaration, and the charm of the land.

■Sumatakyo Onsen Hot Springs

It takes about 40 minutes by bus to get to Sumatakyo Onsen from Senzu Station. Surrounded by the Southern Alps, this hot spring location feels secret and unexplored.
The water from these hot springs also makes the skin smooth and silky. You can relax in an open air hot bath while enjoying the mountain view.
Sumatakyo Onsen Hot Springs

From Sumatakyo Onsen town you can take a 30 minute promenade to the Yume no Tsuribashi Suspension Bridge. The beauty of the lake attracts the hearts of many people. This is a magnificent view that you shouldn't miss if you're in the area.

Yume no Tsuribashi Suspension Bridge


Yume no Tsuribashi Suspension Bridge2

The 90m long suspension bridge crosses the lushy green Sumatakyo Gorge at a height of 8m from the bottom of the lake. With the sparkling lake surface beneath you, experience the thrill of the bridge shaking when you cross it. It is also said that prayers made in the middle of the bridge will come true.


Kawanehoncho Town Development Tourism Association
Website (Japanese-only):

Enjoy the Oigawa Railway and the Magnificent Scenery

Okuoi's two major landmarks, the Okuoi Rainbow Bridge and Yume no Tsuribashi Suspension Bridge recently gained even more popularity as magic love spots. The natural scenery of the Okuoi area gifts its visitors with a different, beautiful face each season.

The Oigawa Railway introduces you to an extraordinary world along its tracks in a continuous display of superb sceneries. It's a new adventure every time you get on!

©2018 Gullane(Thomas)Limited.


Liked this story? Like DiGJAPAN!
on Facebook for daily updates!