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 (Mino-Akasaka Branch Line)
Average No. of Daily Passengers: 403
Usually when you visit an unstaffed station there is still a ticket machine or at least a little device dispensing paper tickets to show to the staff when you arrive at your destination. However, Arao Station is not just unattended but there’s no machine at all which surprised me as I wasn’t sure what to do when I returned to Ogaki Station a mere three minutes later.
As it was, I just said I’d come from Arao and paid the fare to the staff member at the ticket window. A true honesty system if ever there was one!!
Arao is located just 3.4 kilometres away from Ogaki Station and consists of a solitary platform serving the trains running in both directions. There is a shelter of sorts and that really is it. There’s not even a toilet which far shabbier and smaller stations have!
The reason for me going to Arao was not just to see the station itself but to visit Mikubi Shrine (1283-1 Araocho, Ogaki, Gifu-ken) which is open from 9:00 am till 4:30 pm every day. This quirky place is known as the hat shrine and it is located just a minute away on foot which was lucky for me as I only had 14 minutes to disembark, find the shrine and take the pictures I needed before heading back to the station for the return train. I should add that a precious 60-90 seconds of those 14 minutes was spent waiting at the crossing for the train to depart and for the barrier to lift allowing me to cross the track!
Trains on this branch of the line are not so frequent so planning was of utmost importance for me as I was only in the area for a very short time. I had already seen a few sights in Ogaki that morning and taken the train to Yōrō and back to see the colourful and architecturally inspiring Reversible Destiny installations, and needed to get back to Ogaki ready to head west to revisit Hikone via Maibara.
Click on the following links for previous ‘Unstaffed Stations of Japan’ posts…