8.05.2013

2013 Epic Journey Across Tohoku: Old Tunnel Stations


On my epic journey that started from Yokohama had ended in Aomori Prefecture.   It took me 26 hours via local lines only.   I met so many people along the way.  We all came from all over Japan.    We wondered around in station terminals together looking for our next connection while scanning over our notes.   I had kept my instructions on my iPhone while others had written everything down on paper.   We were all so very distant, and yet so very close in this strange land called "inaka."    The worst thing you could've done was to miss your connection.  Trains in the countryside are infrequent and come only once or twice a day in many rural areas.   


The "Seishin kippu" is a ticket that allows you unlimited rides on all local JR lines through out Japan.    The Japan I have always loved has never changed and I still feel the same sense of nostalgia and nervous anticipation since the first time I set foot off the plane when I first arrived here.    The Japan I know is full of green with rice fields that seem to go on and on forever.   


Super express trains like the shinkansen serve only to save time, so that you can enjoy more of your vacation time.   However,  I contend that you  have not experienced a Japanese summer until you have ridden through the backcountry here.  There's no better way to see Japan than via local trains.     

I woke up on a slightly overcast morning on a friday.   I had a tripod and  suitcase in tow. 
 I made my way down to Sakuragicho Station where I boarded a train bound for Takasaki Station.    A copy my itinerary is as follows: http://www.jorudan.co.jp

経路1
08/05 09:38 → 08/06 10:50
所要時間
25時間12分
乗車時間
15時間0分
乗換
13回
総額
12,720円
距離
884.1km
経路乗車位置運賃指定席/料金距離
桜木町路線図構内図時刻表地図グルメホテル
09:38-09:41
3分
根岸線(赤羽行)2・3・6・10号車10,500円2.0km
(0分)横浜 ≪直通≫
4番線着
4番線発
路線図構内図時刻表地図グルメ
09:41-10:27
46分
京浜東北線(赤羽行)32.4km
(8分)上野
1番線着
5番線発
路線図構内図時刻表地図グルメ
10:35-11:01
26分
東北本線(古河行)26.7km
(7分)大宮(埼玉)11番線発路線図構内図時刻表地図グルメ
11:08-12:14
66分
宇都宮線快速(宇都宮行)79.2km
(23分)宇都宮
10番線着
8番線発
路線図構内図時刻表地図グルメ
12:37-13:27
50分
東北本線(黒磯行)163.3km
(6分)黒磯路線図時刻表地図グルメ
13:33-14:37
64分
東北本線(郡山行)
(16分)郡山(福島)路線図構内図時刻表地図グルメ
14:53-15:40
47分
東北本線(福島行)
(17分)福島(福島)
3番線着
5番線発
路線図構内図時刻表地図グルメ
15:57-16:45
48分
奥羽本線(米沢行)148.6km
(47分)米沢路線図構内図時刻表地図グルメ
17:32-18:18
46分
奥羽本線(山形行)前~後
(42分)山形路線図構内図時刻表地図グルメ
19:00-20:10
70分
奥羽本線(新庄行)
(3分)新庄
2番線着
4番線発
路線図構内図時刻表地図グルメ
20:13-22:52
159分
奥羽本線(秋田行)150.1km
(401分)秋田
6番線着
1番線発
路線図構内図時刻表地図グルメ
05:33-08:04
151分
奥羽本線(弘前行)185.8km
(3分)弘前路線図時刻表地図グルメ
08:07-08:52
45分
奥羽本線(青森行)
(30分)青森
6番線着
2番線発
路線図時刻表地図グルメ
09:22-09:59
37分
しもきた(大湊行)2,220円96.0km
(9分)野辺地路線図時刻表地図グルメ
10:08-10:50
42分
青い森鉄道快速(八戸行)
八戸路線図構内図地図グルメホテル

My goal was to reach Niigata by late afternoon with some extra time to spare.     There were two destinations along the way I wanted to have a look at.   The first was a place called Yubiso Station on the Joestsu Line.   I have a thing for old  train stations.   Yubiso station looks abandoned but it's not.  It is a very long dark train tunnel station that I wanted to visit.






This is one of Japan's deepest and longest train tunnels.   The station after Yubiso is called Doai Station
and you can read about it here.   There were a few things I really liked about this station.  One was that you can hear water flowing from above; could be a subterranean stream.   The water flowed so cold out of the cracks of the tunnel was refreshing on my hands  I could barely keep my hands under it because it was so cold.

 Because it was summer and temps. were hovering in the 90s I was tempted to sip this fresh cold mountain spring water.   Inside the tunnel was quite cool and comfortable from the sultry heat outside.


Outside the tunnel station is a town full of lush greenery and unspoiled nature.   I walked a little bit just to get some fresh air and to stretch my legs from the long journey from Yokohama to Gunma.    It was nice being out of the big city and taking in nature.    










There's nothing in Yubiso.  It's a sleepy hot spring town with only a few day spas.   I found a nice little foot soak place along the way.    I sat in one for about 20 minutes.  It was great for my feet.   Just across from the foot bath there was a soba shop with two grannies in it.   I was hungry so I paid them a visit.







            Most often udon is served hot, but if you have a chance to eat it cold it is simply divine.  
After finishing up I headed back to Yubiso Station to hop back on the Joetsu Line bound for Niigata, but I wound up getting off again at Echigo Yuzawa Station for a proper lunch, not just one serving of noodles.   In Echigo Yuzawa Station you can enjoy good food, great sake, and even a hot spa.  No better combination than that.   Sat back down at the table and ordered up an extra large serving of something called "hegi-soba" a cold buckwheat noodle made from "funori" a type of seaweed infused into  wheat dough.   This is done to give the noodles an ocean taste.    If the noodles are really cold then it is the best.   Not very many places serve it so cold, or chilled.   I had copious amounts of nihonshu to wash it all down.






I am hooked on local trains.  There are so many hidden gem spots dotted along Japan's expansive rail network.   I look forward to many more stops in the future.   In my next posts my journey will take us through Niigata to the greatest fireworks on earth.  2013 Nagaoka Fireworks Show. 

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The reason for choosing this particular sake is because it will be featured in the March 2010 Edition of Dancyu, a very popular gourmet food & sake magazine here in Japan. Another reason is because there’s only a limited supply left and this is the best time of year for nice creamy milky colored sake. Like I’ve said in previous posts, this is the pino colada Read More...

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