For a lot of people the Keisei Main Line is only ever used for going to and from Narita Airport. However, about two-thirds of the way down the line from Keisei Ueno Station is a planned town that was built on farmland. This bedroom community, about an hour from Ueno, has it’s own racquet-shaped train line which I was completely unaware of until I saw the following tweet from @thetokyofiles.
As someone who has a lot of affection for Chiba Prefecture I was pretty excited by this very local monorail-style line and last month I took a trip to Sakura City to experience it. After being in denial for a few years I think I have to finally admit that I am a train otaku (nerd)!
The Yamaman Yūkarigaoka Line has been in operation since 1982 and was fully completed a year later. It only has six stations and covers a distance of just 2.5 miles thus making it easy for me to cover both on foot and on train. It’s a world away from the Yamanote Line in Tokyo!
The koala is the line’s mascot and these native Australian animals decorate the side of the people-carrier style trains. They are also dotted around the town, particularly at Yūkarigaoka Station. A more surprising feature was the sight of an old-style red telephone box as I began walking along the route.
- Chiku Center Station – The first stop on the line is just 600 metres down the road and I got my first glimpse of the train not long after passing the station.
- Kōen Station – A further half a kilometre away was a vast, spacious park which gives the station it’s name.
Among the usual park features (swings, slides, flowers, grass, trees etc!) were a couple of animals statues including a lion and a giraffe.
After this stop, the line splits into two and forms a loop. I went in the opposite direction to what the train goes and headed for Ino amidst an area that did remind me a little of suburban Melbourne.
- Ino Station – 10 minutes north of the station is Miyanomori Park which is perhaps the most picturesque area along the route with a shrine and a lake surrounded by greenery.
The highlight though was this windmill which is not the only one in the area as there is another about seven kilometres to the east.
- Chūgakkō Station – The name, which literally means “middle school”, refers to the nearby school. The aforementioned park is very close to the station but I’ve broken this post down into parts based on whatever can be seen beyond each station in the direction I walked!
Yūkarigaoka, a town planned and built by private company Yamaman, has a population of about 18,000 but they presumably live further south as the countryside really begins to open up just beyond this station.
- Joshidai Station – The distance from here to the next station is the furthest on the line at a whopping 900 metres! The name refers to a nearby women’s university campus.
This is the place to get some shots of the small train idling along the raised tracks with a cluster of high-rise apartments in the distance and lush green rice paddies in the foreground.
- Kōen Station – Walking the line was one thing but what I really wanted to do was experience the train itself which operates at speeds accelerating to about 30 miles per hour.
The original plan had been to walk all the way back to Yūkarigaoka Station but it was so hot and there didn’t seem much point in walking back down a route I’d already covered so I bought a 200 yen ticket (it’s the same fare for all journeys on the line) as Pasmo and Suica cards are not accepted.
It was a nice view up on the platform as I waited for the next train to arrive. For the record, trains run every 20 minutes.
This two-carriage people carrier was a bit of a sweat box with it’s low ceiling but I was only on it for 11 minutes as it journeyed on back round the way in which I’d just walked. I wanted to go the long way round but if you catch it right then it’s only three minutes to get to Yūkarigaoka Station.
- Yūkarigaoka Station – I only had a matter of seconds here to snap a few pictures as I had to rush off promptly to catch the Keisei Line train to my next destination.
Click here to read ‘Yamaman Yukarigaoka Line maps 山万ユーカリが丘線’ by The Tokyo Files
Click here to read ‘Tokyo Daytripper: Sakura Tulip Festival (Chiba)’
Click here to see the ‘Top 10 Chiba Sights’
Click here to read ‘The Complete Tour Of Katakana-Named Stations In Tokyo!’