The Oigawa Railway
The Oigawa Railway
The Oigawa Railway’s Steam Locomotive passenger trains depart from the Shin Kanaya Station. They operate almost everyday of the year. Passenger crowd the platform, eager to see the most powerful moving pieces of Japanese railway history brought to life by the industries crew.
Inside the Steam Locomotive’s relaxing cabins, passengers can enjoy the verdant scenery of Shizuoka Prefecture’s bountiful tea fields. The friendly crew cultivate a festive and retro atmosphere with live harmonica performances and acapella songs.
The Oigawa Main Line connects Kanaya station in Shizuoka Prefecture to Senzu Station which is in Kawanehon also in the Shizuoka Prefecture. The railway is operated by the Oigawa Railway which is a privately owned company.
June 10th, 1927 was when the Oigawa Main Line first began operations. They were a private line of the Oigawa Electric Company and it was used to carry worker and materials to facilitate the dam construction upstream. It was gradually extended over time from Kanaya to Senzu which was completed on December 1st, 1931.
However, on November 18th, 1949 the entire line was electrified as there were EMUs for the passenger service and freight operation by electric locomotives that began in August of 1951. And in 1971, express train operations commenced.
The Oigawa Main Line runs through an isolated mountain area that has no cities or towns. Most of the people who board this train are people traveling to a hot spring resorts that is somewhere along the line or they are hikers/alpinists that are heading to the Southern Alps National Park.
Both for the steam and for the electric services the locomotives and carriages are used. And because of this it is loved by many train enthusiasts and photographers. However, in 1983 all freight services were ceased.
The inside of the train is just as cool as the exterior with retro coaches with wooden floors, seats with velvet covers and woven rope luggage racks, and old ceiling fans. And the scenery that you can see from the train is absolutely stunning. You can get striking panoramic views with the rocky banks of the wide Oigawa River. And you’ll be able to see one of the longest suspension bridge between the Shigo station and Shimo izumi station.
I would recommend getting yourself an ekiben (lunch box) before boarding the train. You can enjoy your food while looking at the beautiful view and listen to the sound of the unique SL whistling sounds. It will definitely be an unforgettable experience for you.
If you would like to make reservations to ride the Oigawa Railway SL then you can actually make reservations in advance. And it is possible to make an advance online reservation from 125 days prior or the latest you can book an online ticket is two days prior to departing. However, if you do not make reservations online you can still get tickets at the Plaza Loco located right in front of the station.
You can choose to arrive right in time before your train departs but there are actually a few interesting places to see around the Shin-Kanaya station. There is a cute little cafe on top the Shin-Kanaya station and they serve very delicious ice cream. They also have coffee and other light dishes that you can choose from.
And the Plaza Loco where you can purchase your ticket is also a souvenir shop with an assortment of local food products and toys for children such as SL model trains and Thomas engines. You can also get your ekiben at the train station so make sure to get one before your train leaves. The most popular ekiben is the one that has the Oigawa SL Logo on the bento.
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