A photo journey through 16 extraordinary and secluded train stations in Japan

Known as "hikyo eki" in Japan, this genre of train stations can be best described as "secluded" or "out of the ordinary." These stations are typically picturesque, remote, and unattended: a kind of lonely beauty that lends itself occasionally to films and television programs as a shooting location. If you're looking for an adventure off the beaten path in Japan, a journey to one of these locations might be right up your alley.

A photo journey through 16 extraordinary and secluded train stations in Japan

Frequently featured in movies, dramas, and posters—a famous train station with stunning scenery

Ehime > Yosan Line (JR Shikoku)

Shimonada Station

Shimonada Station
Location
Futamicho Okubo, Iyo, Ehime Prefecture
Date opened for service
June 9, 1935

The platform of this train station boasts a gorgeous view of the Seto Inland Sea. The station has not only been featured numerous times in posters advertising the discounted Youth 18 ticket (“Seishun 18 Kippu”); it has also served as a shooting location for movies and TV dramas, attracting a large number of tourists from around Japan and abroad.

An unmanned station right next to the sea with a hometown feel and an unusual name

Aomori > Gono Line (JR East)

Todoroki Station

Todoroki Station
Location
Ogita, Todoroki, Fukaura, Nishitsugaru District, Aomori Prefecture
Date opened for service
December 13, 1934

This station has drawn attention due to its prized location facing the Sea of Japan and the unusual kanji characters of its name (named after a nearby settlement, where according to legend the sound of the waves and the tide was loud enough to startle horses, the literal meaning is "many horses tree"). The secluded feel with few buildings nearby seems to be a good match for the atmosphere of the unmanned station. Big waves at times drench the station when a storm passes by. A sundial and a sunset calendar add further character to the platform where they can be found.

Japan’s northernmost unmanned train station with a wooden building—on the snowy island of Hokkaido

Hokkaido > Soya Main Line (JR Hokkaido)

Bakkai Station

Bakkai Station
Location
Kutonebetsu, Bakkaimura, Wakkanai, Hokkaido
Date opened for service
June 25, 1924

This is the northernmost train station in Japan with a wooden station building—it is also the northernmost unmanned station. Having withstood harsh blizzard conditions and undergone numerous repairs, the station is still in service since it opened about 90 years ago. It has also been a movie/drama filming location.

JR’s southernmost station with a yellow mailbox that brings happiness

Kagoshima > Ibusuki Makurazaki Line (JR Kyushu)

Nishi-Oyama Station

Nishi-Oyama Station
Location
Yamagawaoyama, Ibusuki, Kagoshima Prefecture
Date opened for service
March 22, 1960

This is the southernmost train station in Japan that is operated by JR. From the station’s platform, you get a great view of the Mt. Kaimondake, which is also known as the “Mt. Fuji of Satsuma” and is one of Japan’s 100 Famous Mountains. There is a yellow mailbox in front of the station, symbolizing the color of rapeseed blossoms which are characteristic of the Ibusuki area. The yellow mailbox is affectionately referred to as the “mailbox that brings happiness,” as, according to local legend, sending postcards and letters to your loved ones from this mailbox will bring them joy.

An unmanned station in the vast, peaceful countryside

Hokkaido > Sekihoku Main Line (JR Hokkaido)

Ikuno Station

Ikuno Station
Location
Ikutaharatoyohara, Engaru, Monbetsu District, Hokkaido
Date opened for service
December 1, 1946

This facility opened initially as a temporary train station but was later upgraded to an official one. Still, it is a simple station with just one platform and a single track, located in the middle of a vast rural landscape. While there used to be a yellow unused bus that had been placed next to the station as a waiting room, the bus was later removed, enhancing the station’s simplicity and secluded feel.

A romantic getaway destination, floating atop a lake

Shizuoka > Ikawa Line (Oigawa Railway)

Okuoikojo Station

Okuoikojo Station
Location
Umeji, Kawanehon, Haibara District, Shizuoka Prefecture
Date opened for service
October 2, 1990

This extraordinary train station is located above an artificial lake and is supported by two giant iron rails that stretch from one side of the lake to the other. Near the station is a cottage where visitors can relax, but you can also walk along the iron bridge to get to the lakeside. From there, you can venture out further and enjoy a hike in the surrounding area. The train station’s platform has a bell that brings fortune in love to those who ring it, making the station a top destination for couples.

The first railroad station in Miyazaki Prefecture showing the way to “true happiness”?

Miyazaki > Hisatsu Line (JR Kyushu)

Masaki Station

Masaki Station
Location
Uchitate, Ebino, Miyazaki Prefecture
Date opened for service
March 11, 1911

This is the first train station that was built in Miyazaki prefecture, and the same wooden station building that was built when the station opened about 100 years ago remains to this day, giving the station a traditional atmosphere. The station’s name means “true happiness,” so many visitors have purchased tickets just to get into the station. A “bell of happiness” is found in the middle of the platform, and visitors are encouraged to ring the bell “as many times as they feel they are happy.”

A wonderful train station on a bridge, offering fascinating views of open-air trolleys running along a beautiful gorge

Kyoto > Sanin Main Line (Sagano Line) (JR West)

Hozukyo Station

Hozukyo Station
Location
Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto and Kameoka, Kyoto Prefecture
Date opened for service
August 17, 1929

Much of this extraordinary train station actually forms part of a bridge that stretches across the Hozu River, so a look down from the narrow platform provides a stunning view of the valley through which the river flows. Other features seen from the station are pleasure boats sailing down the Hozu River and the iconic open-air trolleys operated by the Sagano Scenic Railway Company that run along the river.

A train station with a difficult name—a filming location of a movie

Yamaguchi > Sanin Main Line (JR West)

Kottoi Station

Kottoi Station
Location
Obagasako, Kanda, Hohokucho, Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture
Date opened for service
September 9, 1928

While this station's name, pronounced “kot-toy,” is easy enough to say, it's one of the most difficult in the nation for Japanese people to read from the kanji characters alone. Many visitors pass through this station when they go to scenic Tsunoshima Island, using the bridge that extends out to the sea and offers a spectacular view. Kottoi Station has appeared in a well-known domestic film as “Igamihata Station.” The signboard bearing the name used in the movie is still kept for visitors today to see.

An unmanned station with gorgeous views of the sea—selected as one of the local region’s “Most Popular 100 Train Stations”

Hyogo > Sanin Main Line (JR West )

Amarube Station

Amarube Station
Location
Nawate, Kasumiku Amarube, Kami, Mikata District, Hyogo Prefecture
Date opened for service
April 16, 1959

Selected as one of the Kinki region’s “Most Popular 100 Train Stations,” this station offers a great view of the Sea of Japan from the platform bench. Near the station is the roughly 100-year-old Amarube Iron Bridge. There is now an observation deck that was built in 2010 when the bridge was renovated, using some of the old piers that were replaced.

A quiet but attractive train station with a view of Mt. Komagatake—a.k.a. “Hokkaido’s Mt. Fuji”

Hokkaido > Hakodate Main Line (JR Hokkaido)

Higashiyama Station

Higashiyama Station
Location
Komagatake, Mori, Kayabe District, Hokkaido
Date opened for service
February 26, 1943

Nestled in a quiet forest, this station’s greatest draw is its location, offering a magnificent view of Hokkaido’s Mt. Komagatake. Because it was initially a rail operations center, the station has only a simple but unique design for passengers, including a wooden platform made using railroad ties. In the past, trains climbed steep slopes on zig-zag railroad tracks to service the station.

A secluded train station surrounded by no homes or roads—just one regular user

Tokushima > Dosan Line (JR Shikoku)

Tsubojiri Station

Tsubojiri Station
Location
Ikedacho Nishiyama, Miyoshi, Tokushima Prefecture
Date opened for service
January 10, 1950

Located near a mountain ridge near the border between Tokushima prefecture and Kagawa prefecture, this station is surrounded only by mountains and creeks. With no paved roads or public square in front of it, this station possesses a secretly magical feel, seemingly inviting the visitor deeper into the mountains. A notice on the bulletin board inside the wooden station building says that there is currently only one person using the station regularly.

A switchback station that evokes the steam locomotive era

Kumamoto > Hisatsu Line (JR Kyushu)

Okoba Station

Okoba Station
Location
Onomachi, Hitoyoshi, Kumamoto Prefecture
Date opened for service
December 26, 1909

Located in a mountainous area surrounded by steep slopes, this station is famous as the only station in Japan to be equipped with both a zig-zag railroad track and a loop track. Inside the station are a stone water tower that used to supply steam locomotives with water and a water spring that was used by passengers and train staff to rinse off the soot that got on their hands and faces.

A secluded train station deep in the mountains with springs supplying clear, clean water

Oita > Nippo Main Line (JR Kyushu)

Sotaro Station

Sotaro Station
Location
Sotaro, Shigeoka, Ume, Saiki, Oita Prefecture
Date opened for service
March 1, 1947

Tucked away deep in the mountains, this is an unmanned station with very few commuters. Although the station used to have its own station building, all that remains now is a metal structure that formed part of the ticket gates. The area is renowned for its clean water, as can be seen in the pond on the platform that is home to newts and a well with a sign saying, “Providing the Most Delicious Water Along the Nippo Line.”

An unmanned reversing station surrounded by steep mountains

Kochi > Dosan Line (JR Shikoku)

Shingai Station

Shingai Station
Location
Tosayamadacho Higashigawa, Kami, Kochi Prefecture
Date opened for service
June 1, 1947

Located in a mountainous area with mountains on its three sides, this train station is characterized by a white station building and its unique position along a zig-zag railroad track. Trains enter the station platform in reverse because the station is located along the reverse segment of the zig-zag railroad track. Stores that once lined the area in front of the station are now closed, creating a quiet atmosphere around the station.

An out-of-the-ordinary train station in the middle of a cliff for the adventurous traveler

Nagano > Iida Line (JR Tokai)

Tamoto Station

Tamoto Station
Location
Tamoto, Yasuoka, Shimoina District, Nagano Prefecture
Date opened for service
November 15, 1935

Flanked on one side by a towering mountain slope and on the other by a cliff overlooking the Tenryu River, this station is nothing less than exciting. Visitors must get through steep steps, steep slopes, and a suspension bridge to arrive at the nearby village. The train station's platform resembles a narrow alleyway, with big boulders jutting out at around head height. A trip to this station certainly offers a thrilling experience.

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