Translated by Lester Somera
Discover Retro Shimane At The Former Taisha Station
Written by Maki
No longer active, the former Taisha Station - located a kilometer south of the famous Izumo Taisha Shrine - is now a historical site open to the public.
Located in Izumo City, Shimane, Izumo Taisha Shrine (or the Izumo Grand Shrine) is said to bestow blessings on bonds of love and every other variety of human relationships. Every year, over six million people travel to pay their respects at this immensely popular shrine.
The former Taisha Station, situated a kilometer south of the Grand Shrine, was used in the past by visitors heading to the shrine. While the station is now closed, anyone can stop by and check out its wooden architecture. We’d like to give you a tour of the remnants of the old railway station.
If you want more information about the Izumo Taisha Shrine, check out our Izumo Taisha article.
A Station Building Designated as an Important Cultural Asset
Since ancient times, Izumo Taisha Shrine has attracted believers from all over Japan, but there was an even greater surge in their numbers at the beginning of the Meiji era. Taisha Station opened in 1912 as a way to transport those crowds. The building, which was renovated in 1924, still stands today.
Appropriately for the gateway to Izumo Taisha Shrine, the station has a purely Japanese architectural style, and is made entirely of wood. That aesthetic is why it was designated as an Important Cultural Property in 2004. Japanese-style chandeliers shaped like lanterns hang from the ceiling of the former waiting area, which tells us how modern the decor was for its time.
Once jam-packed with tourists coming to the shrine, Taisha Station closed down in 1990. It is now open to the public, and people can freely check out the facility.
There are displays where you can see how station employees looked, and learn about their uniforms. The uniforms have retro designs, and differ from the current uniforms used by JR.
Traces of Past Prosperity on the Station Platform
Outside the building, there are plenty of traces of the station’s former life as a transport hub. This row of booths is where conductors would tear off ticket stubs. The need for seven booths demonstrates how many travelers passed through the station at the time.
At the platform, the tracks for the abandoned railway line still exist. The line once stretched to Izumo-shi Station, and it is said that at one point, the line serviced special trains and regular through trains to Tokyo.
The station sign, written in hiragana, still remains at the station. Because Taisha Station was the last stop on the line, there is only one adjacent station name, written below.
“De-go-ichi” Steam Locomotives on Display
There is a D51-series steam locomotive, a representative Japanese train, on the premises. D51-series trains are popularly called De-go-ichi (D-five-one). While steam engines prospered as a means of transport in Japan up until the start of the Showa era, the next generation gradually transitioned to electric-powered trains. The De-go-ichi parked at Taisha Station is said to be the final steam locomotive to traverse the island of Honshu in 1974.
You can get a close-up view of the driver’s seat and the coal storage unit.
Experience the Station’s History Through these Documents
Rare documents are exhibited in the station. Visitors can learn about rail information from that era through items like commemorative ticket stubs, old timetables, and black-and-white photos of the station in operation. The historical displays are captivating.
There are also machines and tools which were used when operating trains. Everything is automatic in this electrical age, but you can see that at the time, everything was operated by hand.
The former Taisha Station is a little distant from Izumo Taisha Shrine and the surrounding town, but it is a wonderful place where you can see a once-flourishing station, preserved exactly as it was a generation ago. Even if you aren’t a fan of trains, anyone who likes history and architecture will enjoy their visit.
When you visit Izumo Taisha Shrine, how about taking a little detour and checking out the former Taisha Station?