Scenic journeys

View from the train on the journey between Nagoya and Takayama; in Japan by Rail the route is described as Takayama to Nagoya (© KU)

The following journeys are ones we particularly loved doing. Clearly the weather makes a great difference; if it is overcast or raining the journeys listed may not seem that special. Unfortunately taking a photo through a train window isn’t easy so we haven’t got as many photos as we would like.

Where relevant the text specifies which side we recommend you sit on, though for some journeys it is hard to say which side is best. When making a seat reservation it is worth asking the ticket staff to give you a seat on the side with the best view.

Please tell us if you think other journeys should be added to this list, whether on a private line, or on JR.

All page references are for the 5th edition of Japan by Rail.


Central Honshu

Cable car (ropeway) at Owakudani, Hakone (© Japan by Rail)
  • Hakone area (pp168-71)  The journey from Odawara/Hakone Yumoto to Moto Hakone or Hakone-machi involves several forms of transport and is not to be missed. For Mt Fuji fans possibly the best thing is the chance to get magnificent views of the mountain though it always depends on the weather. The journey includes Hakone Tozan Railway: Hakone Yumoto to Gora; Hakone Ropeway (cable car): Sounzan to Togendai via Owakudani (note that if there is volcanic activity in the area the ropeway may not operate; a substitute bus service will cover the relevant area so you can still get between Hakone-Yumoto and Togendai); and Hakone Sightseeing Ship: Togendai to Hakone-machi/Moto-Hakone. A variety of buses also operate in the area, including to and from Mishima (p173) which provides another access point to the region.
  • Fuji-Kyuko Line: Otsuki to Kawaguchi-ko, pp141-2
  • Oigawa steam railway: Kanaya to Senzu and Senzu to Igawa, pp177-8
  • JR Shinonoi line: Matsumoto to Nagoya, pp189-91 and p193
  • JR Takayama Line  Takayama to Nagoya (see photo above)

    Snow corridor on Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route (© Japan by Rail)
  • JR Tokaido shinkansen: from just before to just after Shin-Fuji for views of Mt Fuji, p174 (however, it must be noted this is the only scenic part of this shinkansen journey)
  • Kurobe Kyokoku Railway: Inazaki to Keyakidaira, pp183-4
  • Tateyama to Kurobe Alpine Route: Tateyama to Shinano-Omachi, pp185-7


  • JR Kisei (Kinokuni) line: Shingu to Shirahama, pp241-5
  • Nankai line: Hashimoto to Gokurakubashi (or Koya-san), p159


  • JR Banetsu-sei (Aizu) line: AizuWakamatsu to Niigata, pp327-9
  • JR Yonesaka line: Yonezawa to Sakamachi, p330

    Senjojiki – stop on JR’s Gono Line (© Japan by Rail)
  • JR Gono line: Hirosaki to Higashi-Noshiro – the Resort Shirakami sightseeing trains operate on this route between Aomori and Akita at the weekends and in holiday periods. (An unusual feature of this journey, most of which is along the coast, is that the train stops at Senjojiki to allow passengers to get out and walk down to see the flat rocks which are thought to resemble a ‘thousand tatami mats’.)

Even though the route is described in Japan by Rail going from Aomori to Akita (pp344-7) the best stretch is Hirosaki/Kawabe to Higashi-Noshiro .


  • JR Hakodate line: Oshamambe to Kutchan, pp367-8
  • JR Senmo line: Abashiri to Kushiro, pp377-83


  • JR Hohi line: Kumamoto to Oita, pp450-1 and p424
  • JR Nippo Line: Miyazaki to Kagoshima-chuo, p429
  • JR Ibusuku-Makurazaki Line: Kagoshima-chuo to Ibusuki, p459


  • JR Yodo line: Kubokawa to Uwajima, pp472-3