Whilst all city stations in Japan are generally in very good condition, the countryside ones can be a different story. One such place that I’d seen online which looked like it was stuck in a bygone era was located in one of Tokyo’s neighbouring prefectures and I finally ventured out the way to see it at the start of this year.
Just a couple of days after returning from my Hiroshima adventures, I embarked on a near-four hour local train journey to the north-eastern part of Chiba Prefecture. It was a very early start as I left the Tokyo Fox Global Operations Centre in Itabashi-ku just after 5:00 am in order to get to the spit of land which is home to the fishing port town of Choshi. With only one train an hour running in the daytime, leaving home so early was the best scenario for getting there (no room for error with the connections in Ikebukuro, Akihabara and Chiba) and being able to see all ten stations on the Choshi Electric Railway in the morning.
Chōshi (CD01) – Having arrived on the Sobu Line it was just a short walk down the same platform to take the Chōshi Electric Railway train at 9:16 am. There is a simple IC Card wicket for passengers transferring between the two lines and the Dutch-style shelter, built in 2005, is instantly noticable for its interesting design.
Within a few minutes of arriving at Chōshi, I was riding the length of the Choshi Electric Railway as it chugged its way along the tracks and through tranquil countryside down to the final destination of Tokawa. The seats weren’t too different from any other train but the wooden grab handles (they can’t be used too often!) and stained-glass windows of the old-fashioned rolling stock conveyed an atmosphere for yesteryear.
Tokawa (CD10) – The end of the line was a 22 minute ride from the starting point. There is just 6.4 kilometres between the two stations. A platform-style sign saying thank you in Japanese (arigatou) is a particular highlight and it is more interesting than the actual sign for Tokawa on a line where the faded and rusting signs are something which many rail enthusiasts like to see. The station building featured as a filming location in the NHK TV drama series ‘Miotsukushi’ (1985).
Inuboh (CD09) – This one seems to possess the most spacious outdoor area as well as a large Portuguese-style station building which was completed in 1990. Nure senbei (moist senbei rice crackers) are made and sold inside to help subsidise the company’s profits which have been in decline for a while. Such confectionary has helped boost profits and indeed earn far more than train tickets. Local attraction Inubōsaki Lighthouse can easily be reached from this station on foot.
Kimigahama (CD08) – The least used station on the whole line where the average number of daily passengers boarding trains is only just in double figures! There is no shelter at all here and only the bare pillars remain of white Italian-style archways which were built in 1990. I loved the look of this station.
Ashikajima (CD07) – One of the more run-down stations on the line, and for that reason it has a rustic charm to it. The station is the easternmost station in the Kanto region and a good place to enjoy nothing at all (in a positive sense) if that makes sense!
Nishi-Ashikajima (CD06) – The newest station on the line having opened just over 50 years ago!! It is just 400 metres away from the previous station meaning they’re the closest ones along the line.
Kasagami-Kurohae (CD05) – This is the only station on the line where trains can pass in opposite directions. Chōshi Port Tower is about 25 minutes north from here on foot.
Moto-Chōshi (CD04) – Having originally opened in 1913 (then closed in 1917 before reopening six years later) the station building was renovated on 24-hour TV in 2017 which delighted locals but the same could not be said for train enthusiasts who called for a return to the original which can be seen in the aforementioned NHK TV drama.
Kannon (CD03) – In terms of the buildings, this is one of the most aesthetically pleasing ones having been rebuilt in 1991 to resemble a Swiss mountain railway station.
Nakanochō (CD02) – The waiting room here was one of great warmth (not literally!) and character with all kinds of information and little exhibits to be seen. A few old locomotives can also be seen in the railyard located parallel to the station which you can visit for a very small fee. The smell of soy sauce also lingers here from a nearby factory!
It was back to Chōshi station after that and with a hint of regret I had to leave behind the distinct atmosphere of this rugged coastal area and return to civilisation.
Click here to read ‘Going Back & Forth To Visit All The Stations Of Kanagawa’s Coastal Line’
Click here to read ‘Going Back & Forth To Visit All The Stations Of Kawasaki’s Industrial Line’
Click here to read ‘The Japanese Town Which Has It’s Own Local Rail Line’
Click here to read ‘The Forgotten Suspended Railway In Japan Which Will Soon Be No More!’
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