The Isumi Railway in Chiba prefecture has many devoted fans because of the beautiful scenery along its route and because its single-car train is decorated with Moomin characters. Let's go and see what it is all about.
There's a railway in Chiba prefecture that allows you to see some amazing scenery. It's called the Isumi Railway. The railway is well known among railway enthusiasts for its great countryside scenery. It was previously deeply in debt and on the verge of disappearing altogether, but thanks to the dedication and hard work of all the staff it was resurrected and finally able to continue operating. At present, there is a must-see attraction along this line so now let's take a trip on the Isumi Railway and experience some of its attractive features.
Isumi Railway is a private railway company in Chiba's Bōsō Peninsula and is famous throughout the prefecture. It's total length spans only 26.8 kilometres with 14 stations along the way. But the roadside scenery along this route is exceptionally beautiful and the paths between the rice paddies form a crisscross pattern that has a relaxing, calming effect. The Isumi Railway is mainly used for sightseeing purposes, and in terms of the line's length, its business and operation policy and its unique scenery, it is distinctly similar to the Shū Shū Railway in Taiwan. For that reason, an agreement with the Taiwanese Railway Authority was reached in 2014, making the Isumi and Shu Shu railways into affiliated companies. One of the benefits for passengers is a reciprocal train ticket system. For information on ticket discounts please look at the Isumi Railway HP (Japanese only).
On this occasion we took the JR Sotobō limited express line from Tokyo station, then on the way there transferred to the Isumi line before finally arriving at Ōhara station. The entire trip took about 2 hours. As soon as you get off the train you get a sense of how attractive the countryside really is. Inside the station there's a ticket counter and they also sell commemorative items so let's go inside and have a look.
The station platform is tiny and all the travelers are patiently waiting for the arrival of the next train. Now off in the distance we can see the brightly-colored yellow train slowly approaching.
A Cute Moomin-Themed Train Car
This single-car train has adopted the Moomin characters for its theme. Even the windows are decorated with a Moomin family sticker.
The interior of the car is simple, yet beautiful. It almost feels like you've gone back in time to the past. During the trip, a station attendant politely called out to me and asked some questions. "Were you able to take some good pictures?" "Did you enjoy your trip?" This warm hospitality is not something you would normally experience when taking a regular train.
Get Off The Train And Enjoy The Scenery!
Today we bought a 1-day pass for 1,000 Yen that offers unlimited riding privileges. Being able to get on and off the train whenever we felt like it, really added to the enjoyment of this trip. Although there's only a short distance between stations, the train service is somewhat limited, so make sure to check the timetable ahead of time before boarding.
Play Hide And Seek With Moomin at Kuniyoshi Station
Kuniyoshi station is one of the most popular stations along this route. That's because near the station there are four Moomin characters hiding in a grassy plain.
Spread out here and there is a small castle and the Moomin characters, and in the grass they're playing hide and seek. This is an ideal photo-taking spot for visitors.
Kuniyoshi station is a small stop but inside they also sell Moomin goods.
One service that will put a smile on your face is the bicycle rentals. Just fill out an application form and for free of charge you can ride about and explore the neighbourhood.
NHK Drama "Sanada Maru" Filmed Near Ōtaki Station
Ōtaki station is the only station on this line that has a station attendant, and the entire surrounding area is known as Bōsō no Koedo, or Little Edo in the Bōsō area. Recently it's been attracting alot of attention having been a film location for the historical drama, "Sanada Maru." That's definitely the reason for its popularity. Ōtaki Castle, which appears in the drama and was built by Tadakatsu Honda, is also located near here. If you stand at the Ōtaki Elementary School gate you can see the castle off in the distance.
Situated along this traditional road are many nationally-designated cultural properties such as the Ōya Ryokan and the Toyonotsuru Sake Brewery. The photo below shows a building constructed in 1849, that served as a merchant's home and shop.
This building, which was formerly a post office, has now become a studio called Hakubidō and is used for making handmade armor. All the pieces of armor are constructed out of corrugated paper and string, and the artisans who put their heart and soul into their craft, spend up to half a year painstakingly creating these works of art. Surrounding the property are tachiaoi, or hollyhock flowers, which are the origin for the Honda family crest. The person at the shop enthusiastically showed us around the premises!
When you look closely at the cardboard armor, it's easy to see that it's not real. Periodically, the studio also offers courses in how to make armor.
At Koyamatsu Station Get A Panoramic View Of The Countryside
Every year during the early part of June, the romantic hydrangea flowers near Koyamatsu station come into full bloom, and many visitors converge on the area to take photos.
Right nearby the station is Kumano Shrine. When you get to the shrine at the top of the stairs, and take in the all-encompassing view of the pastoral landscape, you can't help but feel relaxed and at ease and are naturally put into a cheerful mood.
The 1,000 Yen all-day pass gives you all-you-can-ride privileges on the day it was purchased for, but should you decide to take the kyūkō, or express train, you'll have to pay an additional 300 Yen.
I really had no idea that one could get such a close-up look at both mother nature and history in a place not far from Tokyo. Get on the train and no doubt you'll be able to experience the magic of the Isumi railway!
Isumi Railroad Place: Chiba prefecture, Izumi city and surrounding area Price range: All day ticket-1,000 Yen (+ 300 Yen for the express train) Official website: Isumi Railway (Japanese only)
The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting.