This Idyllic Train Ride Is the Best Way to Explore Japan’s Countryside
It's especially romantic in the spring!
Train Station Workshop Mon Favori
Open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed on Mondays and Fridays (closed on the next day if these days fall on a Japanese holiday)
Taking a vacation often means trying to fit all of the sights and sounds of a particular locale into a tight schedule, and while this is pretty exciting, there’s something to be said about taking a more relaxed route. In Japan, there’s a local train that can give you that change of pace.
The Hojo Railway is a local one-man operated train that runs 13.6 kilometers in 22 minutes from Ao Station in Ono City to Hojochoi Station in Kasai City. The laid-back route takes you through Japan’s vast countryside and past towns that have been preserved in time. In fact, three of the eight stations are registered as cultural properties of the country.
While the only station master is at Hochojo Station, you must pay when you get off the train, as you do with a bus, so buy the ticket directly from the driver when you get off. However, there is a one-day ticket (¥820) for those who want to ride the Hojo Railway multiple times a day.
In autumn, you’re treated to views of golden rice stalks.
Anyone who likes trains would admire this old-fashioned console.
There are three female drivers working with the Hojo Railway.
Ao Station uses the same station as the JR Kakogawa Line and the Kobe Electric Railway. Go to Kakogawa Station on the Kobe Line from Sannomiya Station, then change trains for the Kakogawa Line and ride for 25 minutes to go to JR Ao line.
By the time rice planting season ends, the fields will have become green!
Have a short detour at Hokkeguchi station for a more retro feel.
The cherry blossoms are beautiful in spring.
The station was built in 1915 and was registered as a national cultural property in 2014.
You can use the waiting room as a dining space. At the front of the shop, there are always about 20 kinds of bread made from local ingredients and rice flour from Kasai City.
Open the window and aim for a good picture.
You can take photos of the crossing and the long railroad that extends from the back of the train.
Osa Station shows signs of the past when it was a shipment station for feldspar.
Amulet souvenir tickets that pray for long life are available based on the name of the station.
There are little statues made of feldspar on the platform.
You can attach a message plate on the railroad tie (¥4,500 each).
This modern station’s waiting room is a gallery. There is a free parking lot and a pizza store in front of the station.
Once you reach Hojocho Station, you can rent a bike and take a leisurely ride around the area. There are three types of bikes you can rent: normal bicycles (¥300), folding bicycles (¥300), and electric bicycles (¥500). Folding bicycles are allowed on trains, so you can go even longer distances. The rental office is open daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. If you want to take photos of flower fields and rice fields, just follow the railroad.
The train stands out with the blue sky in the back.
This is handmade by local citizens.
You can ride right next to the railroad.
If you feel famished after your bike ride, drop by Italian restaurant IL BINARIO DI ORO, which is just one minute away by foot from Harimayokota Station on the Hojo Railway Line. Their flour, cheese, and tomato sauce are all imported directly from Italy.
Try their most popular Margherita (¥980) and delicious Genovese (¥1,500).
You can see the railroad from the table seats.
IL BINARIO DI ORO is located at 545-1 Nishiyokota-cho, Kasai City, Hyogo Prefecture. They’re open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.except Tuesdays and Wednesdays. (It is open when Tuesday and Wednesday fall on the national holidays.)
Provided by Japan Walker™, Walkerplus™, and Kansai Walker™ (7 May 2018)