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The Soul of Japan: Great Train Lines

Just in Tokyo alone, if we were to include private rail stations, there are about 704 train stations in the greater Tokyo area. How many stations in all of Japan? Probably thousands. This sort of reminds me of a friend of mine who once told me that you would need several lifetimes just to visit every single hotspring in Japan. The same analogy could also be applied to the number of train stations in Japan, if you were to visit them; there're just too many to visit in one lifetime.

Here is a google map of the many stations I have visited and gone through over the years. I have written about some of my favorite train travels here, here, here, and here.

There are more, like about my travels to Akita, and so forth and so on. This is, like my onsen maps, a work in progress. As the days and weeks go by I will enhance some of the place markers so that you can get a better idea of the places I have personally been to. A lot of my travels are focused up north in the Tohoku region, because I feel the train lines and stations are better preserved than a lot of other region in Japan. In other words, people still ride the Gono Line to work, and yet it's one of the oldest lines in Japan! Commuters still use and pass through Goshogawara Station, a station that's very old and off the beaten path in a remotely located part of Aomori Prefecture. Old stations with dilapidated interiors and rotary phones that date back to the early days of Westernization. In the area where I am currently residing, Kanto area to be exact, old lines are few and far between with many of the train lines left abandoned and unused. If you travel through parts of Shizuoka you can see some evidence of this.

I have ridden on almost all of the shinkansen in Japan, including many of the local lines from East to West in this country. The longest train trip I have ever taken was from Yokohama to Kagoshima and from Tokyo to Sapporo Station via the shinkansen. If you were to ride the LOCAL line from Shin-Aomori to Tokyo it would take you seventeen hours and 10 transfers!

( example schedule here )

You could probably experience Japan in an amazing new way if you were to use a local line to Tokyo from Aomori. Only extreme train geeks like myself would attempt this. I haven't yet, but am thinking about challenging it this summer if things continue to go smoothly for me. The train line is truly one of the ways you can really feel the vibe of the nation and its people. The train is as much a part of the Japanese peoples lives as the culture because through its windows we can peek into the everyday lives of ordinary Japanese people. You can eavesdrop on their chatter and feel the atmosphere around them, and you, and at how they live their everyday lives. For me, that train ride is wonderful, for them, it's just an ordinary train that's an important part of their commute, and perhaps taking things for granted, like at how beautiful things look through their own window.


  1. Lots of train stations in Japan and there are some great ones around as well. I love some of the unique ones that can be found out in the countryside.

    Japan Australia

  2. For me & my family, just travelin around Japan on those numerous train is enough. Of course, getting to the destination is the icing on th ecake but I'd be happy just getting on trains. :)

  3. Japan-Australia- Thanks for the comment. Yes. there are so many great train lines in Japan.

  4. Iina - Thanks for commenting. I consider the train trip part of the vacation. For me getting to point B should be fully enjoyed from point A. I see what you mean though.


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