Little-known gem has one of the most beautiful views in Japan.
If you’ve seen Studio Ghibli’s 2001 feature anime Spirited Away, you’ll likely remember the train ride that takes protagonist Chihiro and her magical companions across the water, stopping off at stations that look like they’re floating in the middle of the sea.
There’s something wonderfully magical about the notion of a quiet seaside train station, and here in Japan they don’t just exist in animated movies, they exist in real life — for those who know where to find them.
Our reporter Udonko recently heard whispers of one of these little-known train stations charming locals in Niigata Prefecture, so she made the journey out there to check it out.
▼ The picturesque station is called Arimagawa.
As the waves on the sign indicate, this line, run by private railway operator Echigo Tokimeki Railway, runs along the seaside in Joetsu City.
▼ The Nihonkai Hisui Line overlooks the Sea of Japan.
Aramigawa Station is one of the most stunning places to stop on this route — not only does it boast glorious views of the sea, the rural station itself is totally unstaffed so when you step off the train here, you’ll feel like you’re the only person in existence.
Gazing out towards the sea from the platform on a sunny day like this one, you could be forgiven for thinking you were in a tropical location like Okinawa, and the surrounding scenery is so picturesque you might be tempted to pinch yourself to check you haven’t stepped into an anime film.
▼ A surprisingly surreal setting.
Rail passengers can move between the two platforms by walking over a small railroad crossing. Of course, the platform right beside the sea is the most appealing of the two, so Udonko spent some time here in the waiting room.
The space was cosy and inviting, and Udonko couldn’t believe she had it all to herself. Luckily, she’d planned ahead so she was able to sit for a while enjoying the sandwiches she’d brought with her.
▼ Like a picnic by the sea.
Udonko couldn’t help but feel as if she were the star of her own anime movie, and as she ate, she pictured her movements as if they were animated on screen.
After polishing off her relaxing lunch, Udonko spent some time exploring the rest of the station, stopping to admire the rustic woodwork on the main building…
▼ …and the quaint entrance, which looks out towards the sea.
Udonko was particularly charmed by the warmth of the handwritten “Arimagawa Station” sign above the entrance.
There are no public toilets or vending machines in the vicinity, and the nearest convenience store is about six kilometres (3.7 miles) away. With only one train arriving every hour at each platform, aside from peak periods in the morning, afternoon and evening, you’ll want to plan ahead before you visit.
If you’re keen to slip into the slow life and don’t mind waiting an hour or so for the next train, you’ll love the tranquil serenity at this seaside station. The only thing that interrupts the quiet is the noise of freight trains, which sometimes pass by the station.
Udonko thoroughly enjoyed her visit to Arimagawa Station, where she was able to feel a rejuvenating sense of calm wash over her as she gazed out at the gentle waves across the way.
Despite living in Japan all her life, Udonko had no idea a seaside sanctuary like this existed. It’s certainly off the beaten track so it’s not a place you’ll find in travel guides, and that’s exactly how she likes it.
So let’s keep this place a secret between us, shall we? Just like we did with the other beautiful seaside railway station over in Kanagawa Prefecture.
Arimagawa Eki / 有間川駅
Address: Niigata-ken, Joetsu-shi, Oaza Arimagawa, Aza Hirahama 1075
Images © SoraNews24
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[ Read in Japanese ]