The Oi River flows through central Shizuoka Prefecture, where the beautiful scenery extends to the river basin. Among the most notable sites in the area is Okuoikojo Station on the Oigawa Railway-Ikawa Line, the first station in the prefecture to be selected for the “COOL JAPAN AWARD” by a panel of 100 foreign judges in 2019! Let’s begin our journey to visit this miraculous station.
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First, we will depart from the continuously evolving Oigawa Railway-Oigawa Line Main Line
The steam locomotives are a must-see site for railroad fans
Okuoikojo Station can be accessed by car, but because this is a “station”, it only seems appropriate to get there on the Oigawa Railway. So, we came at Shin-Kanaya Station on the Oigawa Main Line, the starting point of this trip. Of course from here, we will be riding a steam locomotive (SL), a highly admired type of train among railway enthusiasts. Oigawa Railway operates the SL as an express train to Senzu Station while also preserving the train’s dynamic characteristics. The SL has a massive presence, and the image of it running through cherry blossoms, fresh green tea fields and autumn leaves, depending on the season, is truly a sight to behold.
The evolution never stops with the ”Thomas the Tank Engine”, renaming of a station, the birth of new stations, and so on
For children, the arrival of the first “Thomas the Tank Engine” using a real steam locomotive in Asia must have been a huge event. Even now, many parents and children gather from all over Japan on the days when it is operated. A “Thomas Fair” is held at Shin-Kanaya Station, and in 2020, Bulgy The Double Decker Bus made its first appearance, continuing to fascinate people with its worldview. Please check the Oigawa Railway homepage for information on operation dates and reservation methods.
2020 was a year of significant change as well.
Goka Station was renamed to Gokaku Station, and next to it, a new station, Kadode Station, was opened. This completed the dream story of students who take the entrance examination, with “Higiri” (meaning “fixed or appointed date”) → “Gokaku” (meaning “passing a school exam”) → “Kadode” (meaning “new departure”) which can be wished for at the nearby Kannon-in Temple. Near Kadode Station, a very popular experience-based food park, KADODE OOIGAWA, was also opened. However, the SL does not stop at Higiri Station, Gokaku Station or Kadode Station, so it is recommended to take a local train on the way back and stop at each station along the way.
Kadode Station, which is located adjacent to KADODE OOIGAWA, an experience-based food park for green tea, agriculture and tourism, is attracting a great deal of attention.
From Senzu, transfer to the Oigawa Railway-Ikawa Line
Although it is a cute little trolley train, the Abt System train accelerates powerfully and strongly even when going up steep inclines
We’ve arrived at Senzu Station. From here, transfer to the Ikawa Line (commonly known as the Southern Alps Abt Line), which connects to Ikawa Station. Abt refers to the Abt System train, a system for climbing up and down steep inclines on a section of the Ikawa Line (Abt Ichishiro Station to Nagashima Dam Station). The red trolley train has a miniature ceiling and chairs to match. Its doors are opened and closed manually. If you wish to secure a seat, we recommend sitting in the first or last car, on the right side facing the direction of travel. The splendid view from the windows of the train allows passengers to watch the cars as they accelerate along the curves.
The conductor announces the sights and sounds as the train slowly makes its way along the mountain road while making a lively squeaking sound, and passengers can enjoy the beautiful views of the clear waters of the Oi River and the railway bridge. As we were enjoying the ride, we arrived at Abt Ichishiro Station, the first highlight of the trip. From here to the adjacent “Nagashima Dam Station” is considered the Abt System section. Coupled to the rear of the train is an Abt System electric locomotive, which uses toothed rack rail and gears to accelerate up the steepest incline for an ordinary railroad in Japan. Don’t miss the coupling operation of the Abt System electric locomotives and the toothed rack rails.
Crossing the dam lake from Nagashima Dam to finally reach Okuoikojo Station
We’ve arrived at Nagashima Dam Station, the second main attraction of the trip. Parks and walking paths are well-maintained in the surrounding area. On this day, the water was just being vigorously discharged, and the majestic panoramic view provided a breathtaking experience.
Lake Sesso was created as a result of the completion of the Nagashima Dam and the damming of the Oigawa River. Okuoikojo Station is the station that was built on top of this lake. The main attraction is coming up soon!
As we exited the tunnel, the deep green color of Lake Sesso and the Okuoi Rainbow Bridge that floats across it, came into view, and the train was filled with cheers from the passengers inside. The train proceeded along at a height of 70 meters and arrived at Okuoikojo Station, which was built on a peninsula-like overhang above the lake. The train departing from here once again crossed over the lake along the Okuoi Rainbow Bridge and disappeared into the opposite bank.
Where are the world’s most amazing and mysterious landscapes?
At first glance, Okuoikojo Station looks like a very simple station. Located on the high ground behind the platform is the Kojo Station Cafe (湖上駅カフェ), which is open only on weekends (*closed in the winter). The view from the cafe looks like this.
You can enjoy the contrast between the grove of trees and the surface of the lake, but there’s another twist to fully enjoy Okuoikojo Station! From here, cross the Okuoi Rainbow Bridge via the walking path next to the railroad tracks and climb the steep stairs and aim towards the observation deck on the other side of the bridge. It takes around 15 minutes and requires some energy to get there, but it’s well worth the effort.
And this is the view that then unfolds before your eyes! It is very mysterious and dreamlike in its beauty, as if the station were standing on a green island floating on top of a blue lake. It’s easy to see why it was voted No. 1 in the commercial television program, “Top 3 Mysterious Stations in Japan”. We were left speechless for a while as we took in the beautiful scenery, which looked like something out of a picture book or an animated cartoon. There was a plaque that reads, “This is a playground for wind fairies” at Okuoikojo Station, and with this view, it certainly wouldn’t be surprising to see fairies appear.
Food and souvenirs are one of the ways to enjoy your journey
After enjoying the spectacular view at Okuoikojo Station, let’s take a break and enjoy some of the delicious food available here. After returning by train to Senzu Station, we stopped by Cafe Uemaru, located within a minute’s walk of the station. The “Nagashima Dam Curry” is a highly recommended dish at this cafe, where food and drinks made with local ingredients such as vegetables and tea are popular. This popular dish features rice, vegetables, and curry to represent the Nagashima Dam, and eggs and bacon to represent Okuoikojo Station and the Abt System railway. After finishing your meal, don’t forget to try the flavorful “Kawane hojicha” and “Kawane miso” original gelato.
Souvenirs are also essential. Kawane is famous for its Shizuoka tea. Make sure to pick up the richly fragrant cha-yokan (tea flavored jelly wagashi) at Sugimotoya, located just a minute’s walk from Senzu Station. Once you enjoy the delicious cha-yokan and Shizuoka tea, you’re sure to experience the joy of traveling to Shizuoka.
Take the Oigawa Main Line again, and head to the “Plaza Loco” souvenir corner at Shin-Kanaya Station. Here you can purchase original items that you can only find here, including hats with SL license plate designs, tissue box covers with a design of an Abt System train car, and so on.
How did you enjoy it? Taking a trip on the Oigawa Railway is a relaxing journey away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It’s sure to be a day full of excitement and spectacular views.