Fukushima is a land rich with the seasonal changes of its abundant nature. You are sure to be met with inspiring scenery at the many destinations available. In Japan, such views of indescribable beauty are called zekkei. To fully immerse yourself in these views, we recommend taking a trip on the local trains. By simply purchasing a ticket and getting aboard, you will be able to view the many seasonal zekkei from your train window.
The Aizu region is located in the western part of Fukushima Prefecture. On the route that starts at Aizu Wakamatsu Station, the main station for the region, and extends toward the Sea of Japan in the west, you will find the local Tadami Line. The line’s tracks weave through the Tadami River valley. The line is particularly favored by fans of local trains from throughout Japan, and allows passengers to see the many views of the changing seasons, such as the houses and mountains covered in snow during winter, the mountain cherry blossoms in spring, the greenery of summer, and the vibrant autumn leaves in the fall.
The villages dotted along the river still coexist with nature in the traditional way, presenting a nostalgic view for travelers. The diverse scenery seen from the train window will inspire visitors from all over, irrespective of their country of birth.
The line runs roughly 60 km from Aizu Wakamatsu Station at the start to Aizu Kawaguchi Station at the end of the line, and passes through about 20 stations. Come aboard for a trip along this local railway, just two hours in each direction.
HOW TO PLAY
Your journey into the vast reaches of nature begins at Aizu Wakamatsu Station, the entry way to the Aizu region. When you arrive, just look for the cute cream and green coloring of the trains on the Tadami Line. The line starts with a brief taste of daily life as it passes through a residential area carrying passengers to and from school and work. Beyond that is the rural countryside as far as the eye can see. You will be able to view the idyllic rice paddies and fields spread throughout the Aizu basin.
Once past the 10th station, however, the train will begin to rise into the mountains. After passing through Aizu Honzaka and Aizu Yanaizu Station, the train will begin to follow along the Tadami River. In front of Aizu Yanaizu Station you will see the C11-244 steam locomotive that was once used on this line. We recommended taking the time to get off here and look around, as nearby attractions include rafting down the Tadami River, and it is a wonderful area for walking.
The train crosses the Tadami River for the first time on the iron “No. 1 Tadami River Bridge” between Aizu-Hinohara and Aizu-Nishikata stations. The beauty of the scene of the train reflected in the river as you cross the bridge surrounded by forests will likely take your breath away. This is one zekkei spot that appears often in magazines and tourist posters. Many people have fallen in love with the image of the small local train running along the iron bridge that binds the mountains together. You can continue to observe beautiful views of the tapestry of nature on the four subsequent iron bridges following the first, and at your own pace due to the leisurely progress of the local train.
With the gentle passage of time, the train will eventually pull into Aizu Kawaguchi Station. The final station on the line, situated along the river much like a pier, presents a view quite appropriate for the end of your journey.The majority of the stations connecting these various zekkei spots are unstaffed. Each station has its own unique personality, making them part of the scenery in their own right and evoking a sense of the past.
From Aizu Kawaguchi Station, you can either take the train back to Aizu Wakamatsu Station, or change over to the local bus and head deeper into the mountains to Tadami Station. Also, located roughly 5 km from Kawaguchi are the shared baths and inns at Hachimachi hot spring and Tamanashi hot spring, which are accessible by local bus and taxi. The Tadami Line is in fact a treasure trove of hot springs. Plan your trip carefully to give yourself time to visit some of them.