A bucket list item that every globetrotter should aim to complete by the end of this year is a scenic train journey through Japan’s dynamic natural landscapes. One route that’s especially famous for its exquisite views is JR East’s Tadami Line, which snakes along rivers and through verdant mountains between Niigata and Fukushima.
The first section of the railway opened in 1928 and was later extended to a total of 135 kilometres stretching from Niigata’s Koide Station to Fukushima’s Aizu-Wakamatsu Station. In 2011, some sections of the Tadami Line were destroyed by the Great East Japan Earthquake and the torrential rain that followed in the months after. For more than ten years, the train continued to operate on the tracks that were still intact, but it wasn’t until October 2022 that the damaged sections of the railway were finally restored.
For the first time in over a decade, nature lovers and train enthusiasts can experience what is often referred to as one of Japan’s most beautiful rural railways in its entirety. Though the picturesque landscapes of the journey are reason enough to make the pilgrimage from Niigata to Fukushima, there are also a number of historical landmarks and cultural attractions to check out along the way.
Start in Fukushima’s city of Aizu-Wakamtasu and you can visit sites like the reconstructed fortress of Tsuruga Castle, or soak in the natural springs of Higashiyama Onsen – a small but gorgeous hot spring village with a history of 1,300 years.
Travel about two hours west of Aizu-Wakamatsu on the Tadami Line and you’ll pass the famous Daiichi Tadami River Bridge, which is favoured by photographers for its highly reflective waters and peaceful mountainscapes that transform with the changing seasons.
Cross into Niigata and you’ll find more hot spring resorts, along with several popular ski areas for seasonal winter sports. Depending on the season, you might choose to tour local sake breweries like the Tamagawa Sake Brewery or the Suhara ski area in the winter, both of which can be accessed via Echigo-Suhara Station.
Check out more scenic destinations to explore year-round on the Tadami Line website.
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