Steam locomotives (SL) used to be a popular way of providing power to trains for traveling. They were first developed in Great Britain but subsequently influenced Japan in the later years. However, from the early 1900s, they were superseded by electric and diesel locomotives which retired some of them from service. SL trains were revived in later years where most of them continue to run in tourist or heritage lines. One of these lines is Oigawa Railway which runs through a beautiful landscape.
Oigawa Railway Lines is owned by Oigawa Railway, a railway company in Japan which is also known as Daitetsu. The company originally belonged to Meitetsu Group, a group of companies centering on the Nagoya Railroad railway. Since 2015, it has been instead sponsored by Ecripus Hidaka, which is a company in Hokkaido Prefecture. There are primarily two lines making up the railway: the Main Line from Kanaya to Senzu and the Ikawa Line from Senzu to Ikawa. The SL trains on the Main Line are being operated on a daily basis. Seats can be reserved via the internet. On the other hand, the Ikawa Line goes up and travels the steepest incline (9%) in Japan. It is regarded as the only rack railway (steep grade railway) in Japan. Both of these lines primarily function for sightseeing reasons.
If you travel by the main line, you will be able to witness spectacular places such as museums and shops for having green tea. You’ll also be able to watch hot springs from afar. One museum to look out for is called Ocha-no-Sato which is a museum centering on Japanese green tea and its long history. You might also want to head to Kawane Onsen Fureai-no-Izumi which is a hot spring made of sodium chloride having an average temperature of 48 degrees Celsius. Its open-air spa is visible once an SL train passes by the Oigawa River.
Traveling through Ikawa Line will give you the advantage of watching over seasonal landscapes and mountains. Outdoor activities such as those in hot springs can also be seen as well as historical suspension bridges. Mori-no-Izumi Hot Spring is just one of those places offering a bath in an open-air spa. It is open daily from 10 am to 8 pm every day, but closed on Wednesdays.
Traveling via Oigawa Railway is the best way to enjoy traveling by SL trains and enjoying the scenic beauty of nature that you pass by. It is one unique ride which transports you into Japan’s world of hidden treasures.