An unstaffed and virtually abandoned Japanese train station located deep beneath the surface but this is not that famous one in Gunma Prefecture!
160 kilometres north-west of Doai station is this similar nuclear shelter-like one in Niigata Prefecture which has an equally dystopian feel to it. However, Tsutsuishi hasn’t always been below the surface as it was originally above ground when it was first built in 1912. When a new station was opened 57 years after that though it was located in the middle of a 11 kilometre tunnel 40 metres beneath ground level. One reason for this was to protect itself from frequent landslides which happened in the area.
That is where I began my visit having disembarked at about 9:15 am from the Nihonkai-Hisui Line train heading to Naoetsu station about 20 kilometres eastwards.
There are no lifts or escalators in this station so it’s a 290 step climb to the exit. It’s only 280 steps from the other platform which is bound for Itoigawa. For the record, there are 486 at the aforementioned Doai in Gunma.
Before heading outside I went to the other platform. Being able to explore the dark, cool, damp tunnels without any other person in the station really did give me quite an eerie feeling.
Some people might feel it’s a bit claustrophic or that you’ve been (temporarily) cut off from the rest of society but for rail enthusiasts it’s very exciting to be in such a place.
What is also quite interesting about this station is that the platforms are only just about adjacent to one another. Only if you’re lining up to board the front of the train can you see clearly across to the other side.
It was a sweltering hot September morning when I was there but after a while it does become quite chilly, particularly in the waiting rooms which have sturdy metal doors leading to the platform as the air pressure from passing trains can cause very strong winds. One can only shudder when thinking about what it must be like in the bitterly cold winter!
After that it was finally time to head on up the many steps to rejoin the real world.
Back up at surface level was a little disappointing with a simple external facade and a small and sparse waiting room with no-one in sight. I took a short break in there and added a comment to the guest book, and eventually a couple of other tourists came to look at the station. There was a sign outside saying that if you wish to go down to the platform to take photographs or look around then please purchase a ticket. However, there wasn’t a ticket machine or staff member to be seen anywhere!
Tsutsuishi is not somewhere you’d want to use for your daily commute but I have heard that that is the case for the 30 daily passengers consisting mostly of school kids. Good exercise I guess but not somewhere you can just turn up to a couple of minutes before your train departs!
There is a sign telling passengers to walk and not run for the train! I had plenty of time till my train but when I heard an alarm for the train in the opposite direction I rushed down to see it. No one got on or off!
After just over an hour at this wonderful station it was time for my departure about 15 minutes later so I headed on over to the same platform which I arrived on. There were even a couple of passengers waiting to board.
Less than ten minutes later I was at my next station on this train trip which was equally interesting but in a very different way to the one in Tsutsuishi!
Click here to read ‘Tokyo Daytripper: Japan’s Deepest Underground Station Is Probably It’s Creepiest Too!’
Click here to read ‘The Virtually Abandoned Station Just Over The Border From Tokyo’
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