GETTING AROUND: Most Spectacular Train Rides in Japan

If you can’t get enough of Japan even after you’ve eaten street food in Osaka, temple hopped in Kyoto, shopped till you dropped in Shinjuku and hiked the country’s beautiful trails, maybe it’s time to try it’s train rides. Doing so will take you through stunning passes, vistas, and the idyllic countryside.

If you want to literally experience the adage ‘it’s about the journey and not the destination‘, these train rides in Japan are a must. Travel slowly through the idyllic countryside with the views of the sea and nature all around you.

Snow Monkey Express

Start from the bustling city of Tokyo and take the bullet train to Nagano. Once you reach the latter, board the Snow Monkey Express to get unique views of monkeys having a grand time bathing and staying warm in the onsens you’ll pass. Go during winter to see this and the snow-capped peaks of Japan’s beautiful countryside.

Kurobe Railway

This train ride will take you through gorgeous gorges and valleys, and a stunning lake with an emerald tinge. You won’t be able to put your phone or camera down because of all the pictures you’ll be taking. After all the snaps you took, put your gadgets down and just admire Mother Nature’s beauty. The train also passes a couple of onsens for those interested to try this distinctly Japanese experience.

Sagano Railway

If you’re in Kyoto during autumn, make sure to include this train ride in your must-try list. The line from Arashiyama to Kameoka may be short, but the train deliberately travels at a slow pace for passengers to admire the views along the way. The different colors of the season along with the ravine and river are photogenic. The beauty of nature is in full display on this short route.

Tokaido Shinkansen

This line travels from Tokyo to Kyoto with the famous Mount Fuji as its backdrop. The shinkansen will zip by with the Japanese icon as a regular fixture. The seat you should take when buying a ticket depends on which direction you’re going; if you’re bound for Kyoto, Fuji will be on the right, if for Tokyo it’s on the left side.

Tadami Line

This route connecting Fukushima and Niigata takes you through stunning views of the surrounding mountains. In winter, you’ll see white, snow-covered peaks as far as your eyes could see. Autumn is also a good time to visit as the hues are vibrant and lush, providing you with a feast for the eyes.

Hakone Tozan

This train follows Mount Hakone and slowly ascends. This steady climb allows you to soak in the spectacular views. You’ll also get to see Mount Fuji during the ride. You’ll get the chance to alight and try one of the onsens along the way to complete the experience.

Oigawa Railway

If you want to travel by land the old-fashioned way, this is the route to take. This line uses steam to power the train through Japan’s beautiful countryside. You’ll see lush forests and spectacular landscapes as the locomotive chugs along.

Takayama Main Line

This line linking Gifu City and Toyama City leads you through serpentine rivers surrounded by towering mountains. You’ll also get views of the majestic mountains Hotaka and Yarigatake. Sit back, relax and enjoy the views.

Hanwa Line

This route in Kansai from Osaka to Wakayama is the perfect addition to your trip to the country during the cherry blossom season. The train chugs along a track surrounded by pink and white. Amateur and professional photographers will enjoy the scenic and picturesque landscape.

Sanriku Rail

This route that cuts through the coastline of Tohoku offers vistas of the cerulean waters of the ocean and rolling hills. Enjoy the ride and take as many photos as you want. You’d want to stay glued to the window just to not miss even just a small part of the scenery.

Senmo Line

This route takes you through some of the best parks in Hokkaido namely Shiretoko, Kushiro, and Akan. Your views are spectacular landscapes either covered in green or white depending on the season. The stunning vistas will make your jaw drop every time you look out the window. The slow and steady pace of the train enables you to enjoy every minute.

Hisatsu Line

This train ride in Kyushu uses a sea road that provides you with fetching views of the ocean as it goes along to Hitoyoshi City. Relax and enjoy the ride as you’ll also travel through mountains on the route.

Gono Line

This route in Honshu will take you north where the land meets the sea, chugging along from Akita to Aomori. You’ll get dramatic views of the sea and the towering mountains hugging the coastline. Winter is an ideal time to go because of the contrast of the sea and the snow-capped peaks. There are different categories of trains, from budget to luxurious.

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