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April 11, 2014
The Akita Nairiku Line
Though Tokyo’s buzzy energy can be a heady, intoxicating adrenaline rush, sometimes nothing’s more enjoyable (or needed) than a break from the blistering city pace. Luckily, salvation lies in the historic town of Kakunodate – a 3-hour trip from Tokyo on the high-speed Akita Shinkansen Line, and a popular weekend escape for seclusion-seeking Tokyoites. Along with its traditional Edo-period manors and stunning (and currently in bloom) sakura trees lining the Hinokinai river, there’s yet another attraction drawing the crowds: the Akita Nairiku locomotive line, which alights in Kakunodate with its original fleet of diesel train cars built in the 1930s.

Akita Nairiku’s 94.2km route ends further north at Kitaakita City (a 2 hour and 45 minute journey in total), and renders spectacular, unobstructed views of rural Japan’s sprawling landscape – a welcome change from most other inter-city railways, which are built inside soundproof barriers. Rolling at a leisurely pace through 20 tunnels that burrow into the mountains, and over 322 bridges crossing picturesque ravines, whitewater streams and deep arborous valleys, the ride offers ample time to admire the natural surroundings. Or better yet, passengers are free to hop on and off at any of the 29 stations along the way to stretch their legs and breathe the fresh country air. Now that’s how you recharge those Tokyo batteries!

Kakunodate Station / Obonai Aze Danzaka 68 / Semboku City / Akita Prefecture / +81 18 754 3758 /