The Sagano Scenic Railway, also known as the Sagano Romantic Train, is a popular tourist attraction in Kyoto, Japan. The train ride takes passengers on a scenic journey through the Hozugawa River valley, offering stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
The train line runs from Saga Torokko Station in the west of Kyoto to the rural town of Kameoka, taking approximately 25 minutes to complete the journey.
The train ride is an excellent way to experience the natural beauty of Kyoto’s countryside. It is particularly popular during the cherry blossom season in spring, when the trees along the riverbanks burst into bloom, creating a stunning display of pink and white flowers.
The train also offers spectacular views of the autumn foliage, with the leaves of the maple trees turning vibrant shades of red and orange.
It is a unique way to explore the Hozugawa River valley and experience the natural beauty of Kyoto. With its picturesque scenery and charming atmosphere, the ride is a must-do attraction for those in Kyoto.
History of Sagano Scenic Railway
The Sagano Scenic Railway, also known as the Sagano Romantic Train or Sagano Torokko, is a sightseeing train line that runs along the Hozugawa River between Arashiyama and Kameoka. The line was originally a part of the main line of the Kyoto Railway (京都鉄道, Kyōto Tetsudō) opened in 1899, to connect Kyoto to the northern part of Kyoto Prefecture, or the old province of Tanba. The company adopted the relatively level route through the gorge, avoiding Oinosaka (老の坂) pass which would have required a steep grade.
During the 1950s, the Kyoto Railway faced financial difficulties, and in 1959, the railway was acquired by the Hankyu Railway. The line was then converted to a sightseeing train line in 1989, and renamed the Sagano Scenic Railway. The train cars were also replaced with open-air cars to better showcase the stunning scenery along the route.
The train travels a leisurely, 25-minute route from Saga torokko station to Kameoka torokko Station, following the scenic beauty of the Hozukyo Ravine on its route. It is fitted with wooden benches and has a single open car and four enclosed cars. The windows can be opened for photographs during the occasional short stops.
Route and Scenery
The train runs along the Hozugawa River, offering stunning views of the surrounding nature and the route is approximately 7 kilometers long and takes about 25 minutes to complete.
The train starts its journey from Saga Station, in the Saga-Arashiyama area of Kyoto. The train then makes its way through the Hozugawa River valley, passing through several tunnels and over bridges. Along the way, passengers can enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, forests, and the river below.
One of the highlights of the train ride is the Togetsukyo Bridge, which is a famous landmark in the Arashiyama district. The train passes over the bridge, offering passengers a unique perspective of this beautiful structure.
The train also makes a brief stop at the Kameoka Torokko Station, where passengers can disembark and explore the area before returning to Saga Station.
The scenery along the route changes with the seasons, offering a different experience depending on the time of year. In the spring, passengers can enjoy the beautiful cherry blossoms that line the riverbanks.
In the fall, the mountains are ablaze with vibrant autumn colors. The train also offers a special night-time illumination event during the winter months, where the train and the surrounding nature are lit up with thousands of twinkling lights.
Train Types and Tickets
The Sagano Scenic Railway offers two types of trains: the Sagano Romantic Train and the Sagano Torokko Train. The Sagano Romantic Train is a sightseeing train that runs along the Hozugawa River between Arashiyama and Kameoka. It is a 25-minute ride that offers breathtaking views of the Hozugawa River.
The Sagano Torokko Train, on the other hand, is a traditional open-air train that runs on the same route as the Sagano Romantic Train. It offers a more immersive experience as passengers can feel the wind and smell the nature around them.
Tickets can be purchased at the Sagano Torokko Station, the starting point of the train ride. One-way tickets for the Sagano Romantic Train cost 620 yen for adults and 310 yen for children, while round-trip tickets cost 1240 yen for adults and 620 yen for children. The Sagano Torokko Train, on the other hand, has different fares depending on the season and the type of train car. The regular cars cost 620 yen for adults and 310 yen for children, while the premium cars cost 1080 yen for adults and 540 yen for children.
It is important to note that the Sagano Scenic Railway is not covered by the Japan Rail Pass. However, it is still a worthwhile and inexpensive supplement to your perfect trip to Japan. One-way tickets for the Sagano Scenic Railway can be purchased online or at the Sagano Torokko Station. It is recommended to purchase tickets in advance, especially during peak seasons, to avoid long lines and sold-out tickets.
Tips for Riding the Sagano Scenic Railway
If you’re planning to ride the Sagano Scenic Railway in Kyoto, here are some tips to help you make the most of your experience:
- Plan ahead: The Sagano Scenic Railway can get very busy, especially during peak tourist season. To avoid long lines and ensure a seat on the train, it’s a good idea to book your tickets in advance.
- Choose your seat wisely: The train has both indoor and outdoor seating options. If you want to take in the stunning views of the Hozukyo Ravine, opt for the outdoor seats. However, keep in mind that these seats can get chilly, so bring a jacket or sweater.
- Bring a camera: The scenery along the Sagano Scenic Railway is absolutely breathtaking, so be sure to bring a camera to capture the views.
- Consider combining your trip with other attractions: The Sagano Scenic Railway is in the Arashiyama area of Kyoto, which is home to several other popular tourist attractions. Consider combining your trip on the train with a visit to the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, the wonderful Tenryuji Temple, or the Okochi Sanso Garden.
By following these tips, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable ride on the Sagano Scenic Railway.
The Sum Up
The Sagano Scenic Railway is a leisurely, meandering train ride that takes passengers through some of Kyoto’s most picturesque scenery. The train ride is a great way to experience the natural beauty of the area and is a great option for anyone visiting Kyoto.