12 Most Interesting Train Stations You Can Find in Japan

12 Most Interesting Train Stations You Can Find in Japan

Choo choo, all aboard!

With trains that run like clockwork, it’s not surprising that many rely on Japan’s world-class public transportation system to commute. But while getting on and off, have you ever stopped to admire the station’s ornate designs and facades? If you’re curious to find out more, here are 12 of the most interesting train stations in Japan that are bound to captivate you. 

Also read: Japan Entry Requirements for Tourists: Everything You Need to Know

Chubu Region

1. Noto-Kashima

cherry blossom train

Image credit: katiehawk.jpg

Get captivated by gorgeous flowers as your train pulls into Nato-Kashima Station! Every year during springtime, the station’s 100 cherry blossom trees come to life, adding hues of white and pink to the countryside town of Anamizu. During this season, many locals visit the station to hanami, a practice in which locals will view and admire fully-bloomed cherry blossoms.

Come nighttime, the station plays host to a cherry blossom festival which sees visitors indulging in various festivities under illuminated trees.

2. Kanazawa

tsuzumi drum kanagawa

Image credit: Yuki Shimazu

Considered one of the most beautiful train stations in Japan, Kanazawa Station is a work of art that harmonises traditional artistry with modern architecture. In front of the station lies the Tsuzumimon Gate, a towering gate modelled after the tsuzumi drum used in traditional Noh theatres. The 13.7-metre Douglas fir gate also pays homage to the artistic and cultural developments during the late 16th century.

Aside from this monument, the station’s design integrates the wooden design in a gorgeous yet subtle manner as well. Walking along the concourse, you will also find 24 cypress wood pillars embedded with artworks representing Kanazawa’s rich handicraft and woodwork heritage.

3. Nobeyama

nobeyama stargazing

Image credit: Mister0124

At an altitude of 1,346 metres, Nobeyama Station takes the title of being the highest station among all stations operated by Japan Railways. But unlike other train stations in Japan, it gets more crowded at night — when visitors flock to catch the region’s famous starry night skies. The station is nestled within the Yatsugatake Mountain Range, where surrounding peaks block out light interference from the urban areas; this creates a perfect environment for stargazing.

If you want to experience this, hop onto the local train service HIGH RAIL 1375, which plies between Komoro Station and Kobuchizawa Station. Its evening train services stop at Nobeyama Station for an hour, where you can join a free stargazing guided tour. During this event, the city office turns off the street and park lights so that visitors can better see the night sky.

4. Okuōikojō

japan train stations

Image credit: Makke

Train stations in Japan are aplenty, but Okuōikojō Station takes the cake as one of the most interesting stations in Japan to view Shizuoka’s gorgeous mountainsides. Perched on the cliffs in the middle of the Ōi River, the station can only be accessed by taking a train along the Ikawa line or walking down a narrow path alongside the tracks.

And, there are quite a few things you can do at this remote station as well! Behind the platform is a quaint cottage with an observation deck. If you’re visiting this place with your partner, ring the “Happy Bell” at this deck; the cliffside spirits will give blessings to both of you.

Also read: 10 Must-Visit Prefectures in Japan That Are Waiting for You to Discover Them

Chugoku Region

5. Nagatoshi

torii gate station

Image credit: Kazz

Imagine waiting for your train to arrive, and you notice 20 miniature torii gates standing above an unused siding. Erected just two years ago, Nagatoshi Station’s torii gates became famous after its social media feature. The gates take inspiration from the Motonosumi Shrine, one of the area’s renowned tourist sites which features a series of vermilion torii gates overlooking the sea. To entice families to visit the station, you can also find operators organising joy rides where kids can whizz by on a track inspection trolley.

6. Koi-Yamagata

This station will get you feeling tickled pink, that’s for sure! Koi-Yamagata Station is one of only four train stations in Japan whose name contains the kanji character for “love”. In 2013, the nation subsequently launched a “Love Station Project,” which gave the station its present-day pink decor. Other love-themed features were added as well, including a love letter postbox and a monument for visitors to attach their wishes on heart-shaped ema (wooden plaques).

Kansai Region

7. Torokko Hozukyō

arashiyama bamboo station

Image credit: ketou-daisuki

The third station along the Sagano Scenic Line, Torokko Hozukyō Station offers picturesque views of Kyoto’s Hozukyo Ravine and Hozu River. Formerly part of the Sanin Main Line, this route was preserved and refitted with nostalgic old-school trains.

Also, since the station is located near the popular Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, locals and tourists visit the area for its beautiful autumnal colours and fresh air.

Also read: 23 Top Things to Do in Kyoto on Your Very First Visit

Kanto Region

8. Kamakurakōkōmae

slam dunk train

Image credit: hans-johnson

Overlooking the shimmering waters of Sagami Bay, Kamakurakōkōmae Station is a popular sightseeing spot not for its beaches, but for this iconic railway crossing right outside the station. Featured in the opening of the well-loved anime series Slam Dunk, the intersection attracts massive crowds on weekends and holidays. 

There, you will find many visitors whipping their cameras out, attempting to replicate the scene with the same sea, tracks, crossing, and the adorable green Enoden train.

9. Shinjuku

japan train stations

Image credit: Torsakarin via Canva Pro

Have you ever been to Tokyo? If so, then you would’ve most definitely passed by Shinjuku Station before. This major interchange is actually the world’s busiest train station, with trains departing and arriving every few minutes. Over three and a half million commuters pass through it daily; many either rushing for their connecting rides or heading up to the surface via one of the 200 exits.

And ask the locals for help if you ever get lost in the labyrinth of underpasses; you wouldn’t want to end up all the way at the other end of the expansive Shinjuku district! 

Also read: 33 Best Things to Do in Tokyo on Your Very First Visit

Kyushu Region

10. Tanushimaru

kappa train station

Image credit: Anilsoi11

Joining this list is a train station in Japan deriving inspiration from a famous local mythical creature. Based on the Kappa (a water-based creature in Japanese folklore), Tanushimaru Station’s adorable exterior is a sight not to be missed. With ellipse windows and a beak-shaped roof, the gigantic Kappa is beautifully set against the backdrop of the Minou Mountain Ranges, a perfect pairing to enjoy the Kyushu countryside. 

Housed within the station is the KAPATERIA, a cafe known for its delectable Kappa-shaped treats and meals. Choose from some savoury curry and sweet macarons, all of which make for wonderful IG-worthy photos. You can even take a stroll outside the station to pose with other various cute Kappa statues!

Shikoku Region

11. Awa-Kawaguchi

tanuki train station

Image credit: Sunport1216

Don’t be surprised to see this giant tanuki (raccoon dog) when disembarking at Awa-Kawaguchi Station. According to Japanese folklore, this endemic creature is said to be a symbol of good luck and fortune and was subsequently adopted as the identity for Miyoshi city. 

It has since been regularly featured as motifs during special occasions, where you can find friendly locals donned in tanuki-themed headbands and face masks.

Tohoku Region

12. Kizukuri

japan train stations

Image credit: Bakkai

With such an intricately-designed facade, it’s no wonder that Kizukuri Station gets passers-by’s heads turning. The station is located near the Kamegaoka Ruins, where archaeologists unearthed remnants of a former settlement dating back to 14,000 BC. Among these relics were the shakoki-dogu: clay figures with a unique goggle-like detailing around their eyes and a limb snapped off intentionally.

These artefacts served as the inspiration behind the design’s station, spawning the 17.3-metre tall figure displayed on its exterior. It also has a pair of eyes that illuminate about three minutes before a scheduled train pulls into the station. But, there’s nothing scary about it; instead, it has been recognised as adorable and has even earned itself the nickname Shako-chan among locals.

Also read: 18 Cool & Unique Japanese Vending Machines That Will Blow Your Mind

These interesting stations in Japan incorporate both practicality and innovation, making them architectural wonders that would pique a traveller’s interest. And so, do jot these down and visit them during your next vacay to this marvellous country!

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Jerald Ang

Jerald is always looking at aviation news and his favourite pastime is plane spotting. When he is taking a break, you'll find him either indulging in his Pokémon games or searching for his escape.

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