Think of train stations in Japan and the mighty Shinjuku station is sure to come to mind for many people. That is the world’s busiest train station, and Japan monopolises the top 50 list with only five of them not in this country. However, at the other end of the scale are some tiny stations which are usually unstaffed and used by very few commuters.
Line(s): Tōkaidō Main Line
Average No. of Daily Passengers: 639
There`s something alluring and slightly fairytale-like about a train travelling along a coastline next to the ocean and, as an island country, Japan has a few stations which are located beside the seaside. Last month I ventured just over the border from Tokyo to see Umi-Shibaura on the Tsurumi Line which is known as the station you can never leave unless you work for the company that owns it! That one is right next to the sea and going there reminded me of Nebukawa which I have passed through on numerous occasions as I`ve been back and forth between Shizuoka and Tokyo.
Anyone who`s ever taken a train from Tokyo to Atami or beyond may have noticed a station beside the seaside just past Odawara. En-route to Izu Peninsula to see two days of Olympic track cycling at the Izu Velodrome, I decided to stop off at Nebukawa. With the next train coming just 20 minutes later there was enough time to walk up and down the fairly long platform, look around the station and check out the surroundings to try and get some more interesting shots of the station.
From the platform the station building has to be accessed by a footbridge. It`s been unstaffed since 2002 when the service counter was discontinued not so long after the IC card reader system had been implemented.
These days Nebukawa Station is nearby a serene sea but it hasn`t always been that way. Within a few months of opening back in December 1922 the station suffered greatly during the Great Kantō earthquake of 1923. An earthquake caused a mudslide, which swept the station building, platforms, and train into the ocean. Seven of the eight train carriages were submerged, and 112 people on board sadly lost their lives. Another 200 people living nearby were also killed by the landslide. The train travelling in the other direction to Tokyo also ended up in the sea with six people dying.
There are actually four tracks at this two-island platform station although one of them (track one) is not in use. The signage at the end of platform 4 tells you that Nebukawa can be a popular place for train otaku (nerds) to take photographs of the oncoming trains arriving from the direction of Tokyo which is located just over 90 kilometres away. Presumably the drivers have had some problems with flash photography or photographers standing in dangerous positions in the past as there is a sign telling people to not take photos beyond that point.
It is a nice place to feel the fresh sea breeze when you step on to the platform but with knowledge of the aforementioned 1923 disaster, as well as the recent landslide in Atami, there is a touch of guilt about enjoying this area as the utter devastation caused by nature is never far from your mind.
Click here to read ‘Unstaffed Stations Of Japan #1 – Kamiyagi’
Click here to read ‘Unstaffed Stations Of Japan #2 – Funamachi’
Click here to read ‘Unstaffed Stations Of Japan #3 – Inazusa’
Click here to read ‘Unstaffed Stations Of Japan #4 – Yodo’