Hikyo: 12 Rural Japanese Train Stations Worth Exploring

“Hikyo” is the name given to rural Japanese train stations often set amongst secluded scenery and stunning wilderness. Many hikyo stations only host a few services a day, and make for fantastic photos showcasing a slower, simpler side of life in Japan. In this article, we’ll introduce 12 hikyo stations sure to fire up your adventurous spirit!

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1. Todoroki Station, JR Gono Line (五能線 驫木駅)

Todoroki Station is one of the most adored stations on JR Gono Line, the railway that runs along Sea of Japan in Aomori. View of the sea in front of the station is simply magnificent.  The location has been used for JR adverts and film shootings, which makes this station ever so popular.  

18 Ougida, Todoroki-aza, Oaza, Fukaura-cho, Nishitsugaru-gun, Aomori Prefecture  (青森県西津軽郡深浦町大字驫木字扇田18)

2. Touge Station, JR Ōu Main Line (奥羽本線 峠駅)

This railway shares rails with Yamagata Shinkansen, however, bullet trains don't stop at this station. Touge Station is for  local trains that run every 5 hours, so you may find it risky to pay a visit. It is in the area which gets covered with heavy snow in winter. The enormous roof that covers the entire station to fend off snow is spectacular and worth stopping by to take a look at.  

Touge Osawa-aza, Oaza, Yonezawa, Yamagata Prefecture (山形県米沢市大字大沢字峠)

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3. Obasute Station, JR Shinonoi Line (篠ノ井線 姥捨駅)


There are 3 interesting features about this station. Firstly, there is a splendid view of Zenkoji-daira below the station. This is counted as one of the best views from trains in Japan, overlooking Nagano. The second is the view of  vast terraced rice fields the area boasts of, which is also an amazing sight.  The third is the unique structure of this station- it is on a switchback. Obasute station stands on a narrow steep land, so in order to come into a platform on a flattened surface,  local trains have to switchback, whereas express trains that don't stop at this station would simply pass through.

4947 Yawata Obasute, Oaza, Chikuma, Nagano Prefecture (長野県千曲市大字八幡姨捨4947)

4. Doai Station, JR Jōetsu Line (上越線 土合駅)


There is a huge difference in platform levels- the southbound one  is ground level, and for the northbound platform, you have to go underground using a staircase of 462 steps. The sign by the staircase says 'The deepest station below the surface in Japan'. It is unmanned but  well looked after and hikers to the nearby Mount Tanigawa use this station. 

Doai, Yubiso, Minakami-cho, Tone-gun, Gunma Prefecture (群馬県利根郡みなかみ町湯桧曽土合)

5. Ikutora Station, JR Nemuro Main Line (根室本線 幾寅駅)

PROTzuhsun Hsu/Flickr

The station rose to fame when it was featured in the film 'Poppoya' 「鉄道員(ぽっぽや)」, starring the famous actor late Ken Takakura. Interestingly the sign on the facade says Horomai Station, the name of a fictional station depicted in the film, whereas the signs on the platform state its real name,  Ikutora Station.  The premises were renovated to accentuate the retro ambience for the film, and have preserved it ever since.   

Ikutora Aza, Minami Furano-cho, Sorachi-gun, Hokkaido (北海道空知郡南富良野町字幾寅)

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6. Tsubojiri Station, JR Dosan Line (土讃線 坪尻駅)


The railway was built among the rocky and steep mountains of Shikoku, therefore it runs across areas that are difficult to approach by other means of transportation. The location of this station is so steep that it requires switchback maneuver for the trains to come into the platform. The small, wooden station building is rather charming and fits in the landscape.  

Nishiyama, Ikeda-cho, Miyoshi, Tokushima Prefecture (徳島県三好市池田町西山)

7. Jōkōji Station, JR Chūō Main Line (中央本線 定光寺駅)


Jōkōji is located in outskirts of Nagoya and is famed for cherry blossoms in spring and autumn leaves in fall.  The station is built on a narrow space, literally by the edge of Shonai River. Jōkōji is across the river by the bridge. 

Tamano-cho, Kasugai, Aichi Prefecture (愛知県春日井市玉野町)

8. Amarube Station, JR Sanin Main Line (山陰本線 餘部駅)


Located at the west side of Amarube Viaduct, a 41 metre tall railway bridge constructed along San'in Coast facing Sea of Japan. The popular red steel viaduct was replaced by a concrete bridge in 2010, but part of the former site is preserved as an observation deck named ‘Sora no Eki (空の駅, Station in Sky)', which can be approached from the station. Parts of the former red bridge are also used as a bench at the platform. 

1861-2 Nawate, Amarube-aza, Kasumi-ku, Kami-cho, Mikata-gun, Hyogo Prefecture (兵庫県美方郡香美町香住区余部字ナワテ1861-2

9. Nishi-Ōyama Station, JR Ibusuki Makurazaki Line (指宿枕崎線 西大山駅)


This is the southernmost station of Japan Railways. It used to be the southernmost station of the entire Japanese railways but since monorail started operating in Okinawa, it has become known as the farthest south station on the mainland, or, of the entire JR stations. Situated in a quiet scenery with the view of Kaimondake, a famous volcano in Kyushu, Nishi-Ōyama Station deserves to be one of the hidden gem stations within the nation.  

602 YamagawaOyama, Ibusuki, Kagoshima Prefecture (鹿児島県指宿市山川大山602)

10. Shiteguri Station, JR Iida Line (飯田線 為栗駅)


This is one of the best kept secrets among fans of secluded railway stations for its unique features. Iida Line is popular for lovers of local train trips. Shiteguri  is one of the most difficult stations in Japan to read its name correctly.  And in order to approach the station, you need to cross a suspension bridge over the Tenryu River.  Almost all the residential premises in the nearby area had been strategically sunk underneath the water when the dam was constructed, with just a couple of houses remaining today.

Hiraoka, Tenryu-mura, Shimoina-gun, Nagano Prefecture (長野県下伊那郡天龍村平岡)

11. Kowada Station, JR Iida Line (飯田線 小和田駅)


Iida Line is well known for many secluded stations along its rail line and special trains operate from time to time for tourists. This station counts as one of the popular stations for its settings, such as the quiet, melancholic and sentimental atmospherics.

44 Okuryoke, Misakubo-cho, Tenryu-ku, Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture ( 静岡県浜松市天竜区水窪町奥領家44)

12. Koboro Station, JR Muroran Main Line (室蘭本線 小幌駅)


This is the most secluded of all secluded stations. One side of the station faces a steep mountain cliff, with the sea coast on the other, which makes it literally no room for escape. The only non-locals who would stop by at this station are the railway fanatics. There aren't that many local trains that stop here, making you feel as if you are waiting for the next train forever.  Express trains would appear from nowhere as the station is close to a tunnel, so you need to be careful not to be blown off the platform by its high speed. For all the geographical reasons, this station can be quite dangerous to visit in winter so it truly isn't for an amateur tourist. But on the other hand, such thrilling location makes Koboro the most popular secluded station in the entire nation. 

Rebunge, Toyoura-cho, Abuta-gun, Hokkaido (北海道虻田郡豊浦町字礼文華)

The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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