Japan's Top 10 Coastal Railroad

By Takashi Noda : Travel Writer
September 04,2015
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(Photo: em/PIXTA)

This hot summer is in its final stages. While the midsummer sea is great, the quiet Sea of Japan in early autumn also has beauty that does not exist in any other season. There is no shortage of coastal railroads because Japan is an island nation surrounded by the sea on all four sides. Let's introduce the top 10 scenic places among these wondrous locations.

No. 10: Senmo Main Line

There used to be several local lines running along the coastline of northeastern Hokkaido. Most of these lines have been discontinued, and the only one that remains now is the Senmo Main Line between Abashiri and Shiretoko-Shari. Fortunately the scenery around Genseikaen and Kitahama exudes a unique sense of loneliness when the weather is not good, and the appeal of traveling to the ends of the earth is hard to avoid.

No. 9: Tosa Kuroshio Railway Gomen-Nahari Line

Running on an elevated track near the Pacific Ocean coastline is indeed innovative. The train runs as if overlooking the sea just a little bit. Moreover, the train has an open deck car and an open observation balcony with no windows installed on the side of the train, much like a hotel or apartment building balcony.

With trains nicknamed "Yataro" and "Shintaro", the journey itself is fresh, and during the journey you are directly bathed in sea breeze. The original characters standing at every station are also fun.

No. 8: Hisatsu Orange Railway

A pioneer in dining trains is the Kyushu Hisatsu Orange Railway "Orange Cafeteria". Eating while making a journey by train produces the finest moments. Even when riding on a normal train, the view from the line faithfully follows the terrain of Yatsushiro and Amakusanada, and the sunset in particular is something you'll never tire of, no matter how many times you see it.

No. 7: Noto Railway

This was a relatively modest route, but since Noto began attracting attention with the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen (bullet train) and the NHK morning drama "Mare" set in Noto, there has been no shortage of talk about the appearance of the new sightseeing train "Noto Satoyama Satoumi-go". More than half of the route has been discontinued, and it is a railway you want to cheer just for its feeling of stagnation.

No. 6: Sanriku Railway

One of the third-sector railways, the Sanriku Railway, is relatively new and has a lot of tunnels, but it has no shame with its view on journeys with the superb view of the Rias coastline. With slow speed operation at points with a fantastic view, it feels like this sightseeing train has become a classic now and around the country.

No. 5: Seto-Ohashi Line

Lines where it is preferable to cross open water are limited to the Seto Inland Sea. The Seto-Ohashi Line is located here.

While the steel frame of the bridge is somewhat of an eyesore, looking at the islands and ships passing by from the train and the state of the ocean below the windows is thrilling.

No. 4: Kure Line

We present the Kure Line near the Seto Inland Sea. The train window from Tadanoumi to Mihara in particular is excellent. Reserved seats on the "Setouchi Marine View" sightseeing train that runs on weekends are recommended. Looking at the sea and changing atmosphere from seats facing the sea and round windows reminiscent of ship windows is fun.

No. 3: Kisei Main Line

A recommended railway that runs along the Pacific Ocean is the Kisei Main Line. The appearance of the sea is always changing from Wakayama Prefecture to Mie Prefecture.

As you ride from Wakayama Prefecture, there is no time to rest with the scenery of the sea changing rapidly as there is a spacious section with ocean views (Gobo to Kii-Tanabe), a section with continuous rock formations (Karekinada between Susami to Kushimoto) and a mountainous area overlooking an intricate bay (Kumano to Owase).

No. 2: Uetsu Main Line

The Uetsu Main Line that runs from Akita to Niigata is an important line of the Japan Sea route, and the scenery of the Sea of Japan is impressive. In particular, a scenic spot called the Sasakawa Flow provides beautiful scenery from the train window, even while glimpsing it in a tunnel. This train is recommended if you have time, since the sightseeing train "Kirakira Uetsu" is also running on this line.

No. 1: Gono Line

There are many railways which run along the coastline. Among these, when it comes to an endless panorama of breathtaking scenery, a lack of artificial structures that destroy nature and train windows with an amazing view, everyone wants to make sure the Gono Line is in 1st place. Everyone can enjoy the superb views in season with the sightseeing train "Resort Shirakami" making three round trip journeys daily.