Translated by Jelena Kitamura
Okuoikojo Station In Shizuoka - A Steep Train Ride And Hidden Rural Beauty
Written by Mami Wakamatsu
Travel to Okuoikojo Station in Okuoi, Central Shizuoka and get in touch with nature. Enjoy the outdoors with endless mountains, emerald lakes, and a train station with tracks that are the steepest in Japan. Learn about things to do and access to this hidden spot.
Okuoikojo Station, Shizuoka - Picture-Perfect Trains and Stunning Nature
Central Shizuoka is home to Okuoikojo Station, a picturesque spot gathering attention and popularity. It is situated in the Okuoi Area of Shizuoka, connected to the Akaishi Mountains.
Picture courtesy of Shizuoka Prefectural Tourism Association
To reach Okuoikojo Station and begin your journey, start with a ride on the train operating on the Ikawa Line of Oikawa Railway. Continue reading to learn about what you can see while on the train and things you can do in Okuoi!
The Train that Climbs the Steepest Railway Tracks in Japan
The Okuoi Area can be considered a hidden gem of beauty in Japan, with mesmerizing nature such as emerald lakes, rivers, valleys, and majestic mountain range. It is also known as a hot spring area. Two Oigawa Railway lines run along the Oigawa River.
The first one is Oigawa Main Line, which starts at JR Kanaya Station and ends at Senzu Station as the last one. Next to Kanaya Station is Shin-Kanaya Station, which is where the steam locomotive takes off, bound for Senzu Station. It is very popular, so all seats during weekends often get reserved and sold out very quickly! You can reach Kanaya Station from Tokyo in about 2 hours by train, and in 2 and a half hours by Shinkansen and train from Osaka.
The second line is Oigawa Railway Ikawa Line, with Okuoikojo as one of its stations. The train runs from Senzu Station to Ikawa Station. Here you can see the only Abt system rack railway in Japan.
The Abt system is a type of railway with a special, gear-like rail (“rack rail”) that spreads between two usual rails on which an electric train with an appropriate gear-like rail on its bottom (“rack gear”), runs. The two gear rails mash perfectly, which allows the train to go up and down steep slopes. This train runs on the steepest railway in Japan.
You can also gaze out at the exceptionally beautiful scenery of valleys, dams, and emerald lakes from the train windows. Both steam locomotive and the Abt system railway is a must-try for anyone interested in trains.
Hop on a Train Running Through Bountiful Nature
If you are in Tokyo and intend to ride the Oigawa Railway Iwate Line, you should use the Oigawa Main Line to get to Senzu Station first.
The route in this article starts from a hot spring area called Sumatakyo Hot Springs. It is a 40-minute bus ride from Senzu Station.
Next on our itinerary is going to Okuizumi Station from Sumatakyo by bus. After reaching Okuizumi, you can head to Okuoikojo Station by train. It takes 36 minutes to get there.
Spectacular outdoor scenery surrounds the Ikawa Line. Okuizumo Station, too, is a lovely station with plenty of greenery that allows travelers to relax and enjoy the trip. When the train approaches, you will notice it is smaller and more compact than a normal train. Its red appearance is quite eye-catching in the middle of the green mountain area.
After boarding, when riding from Senzu Station to Okuoikojo Station, or toward the last stop, Ikawa Station, sit on the right side to best take in the majestic nature. If you sit towards the back of the car you can see the front of the train turning.
Steep Climbs and Majestic Nature
Picture courtesy of Oigawa Railway
This petite train might seem almost like an amusement park ride, but it is actually a powerful train with the power to forge forward through the mountainous areas. Don't worry if you notice the car shaking a little bit -- you’ll get used to it quickly.
You won't be able to take your eyes off the window pane as soon as the train takes off! There is amazing scenery wherever you look that will draw you in, with countless trees and an emerald lake surrounded by the mountain.
After a while, you should arrive at Abt Ichishiro Station, which follows Okuizumi Station. The tracks between Abt Ichishiro Station and the following, Nagashima Dam Station, is the steepest railway section in Japan. To make the train climb the steep slope, they implemented the Abt system on the railway at this station. Passengers have the chance to get off the train to observe the tracks.
Pictued above is the train going in the opposite direction connecting.
As soon as the train is connected to the locomotive, it is ready to head on to the next station. The train climbs on the rails on a slope across the dam.
By the way, trains in Japan can climb up to 25 meters high per 1000 meters. This is equal to an angle of 1.4 degrees. 1.4 degrees may not seem like a lot, but ordinary trains can only run smoothly and without difficulties up to this angle.
However, this Ikawa Line has an angle of almost 5.1 degrees. It is a steep challenge for a train to climb. The Abt system is implemented to help the trains run safely over the steep sections. If you take a look back through the window, you will be able to see the rare sight of the slope.
As soon as the train has climbed all the way up, it turns a little, allowing you to glance over the steep section in one sweep. You’ll be amazed at the angle of the slope on which the rails go. It is truly a rare sight you won’t forget!
There is a tunnel after this section, and the moment train leaves the tunnel behind, yet another mesmerizing sight emerges in front of you – Okuoi Rainbow Bridge, spanning across Sesso Lake, which leads to Okuoikojo Station.
Okuoikojo Station, the Hidden Gem of the Mountain
After getting to Okuoikojo Station, take a stroll around the area to enjoy the view. Make sure to check the departures timetable to get a general idea about the arrival of the next train. Also, you’ll find a rest area near the station, so you can relax, too.
What you can see right below you is the emerald green Sesso Lake. This amazing sight is worthy of admiration, well-hidden in the depths of the huge mountain area. There is a pedestrian path alongside the railway on the Rainbow Bridge, so you can even walk across.
The bridge is 70 meters above the surface of the lake. It will send the chills down your spine and stun you with its beauty.
After walking some more, you’ll see stairs above the tunnel. Climb them to admire the Rainbow Bridge in full.
Surrounded by vast nature, the Rainbow Bridge stands out in the center, leaving every onlooker speechless.
Upon reaching the top of the stairs, climb the mountain path and turn left. You should see a road in front of you. A few meters ahead there is a view point from which you can see Okuoikojo Station.
Picture courtesy of Shizuoka Prefectural Tourism Association
You can take a walk to the following, Sessokyo-Onsen Station, from both the view point and Okuoikojo Station. It will take you about an hour to an hour and a half. The path is a hiking course whose beautiful surroundings you ought to enjoy just as we did.
Sessokyo (Sesso Gorge) has a hot spring facility for day use called Sesso no Yu, where you can relax and soak in high-quality hot springs.
How to Enjoy Okuizumi
The number of visitors to the Okuizumi Area has been increasing steadily, due to the extraordinary and rare steam locomotive and trains. You won’t find many tourist facilities, restaurants, or souvenir shops, you will get the chance to discover the beauty of nature you can't see anywhere else.
Be sure to read about Sumatakyo Hot Springs and Yume no Tsuribashi, as well as the steam locomotive in other MATCHA articles.
In cooperation with Oigawa Railway