Local Scenic Train Trip From Gunma To Tochigi Prefecture – Part 2

Join us as we continue our trip on the Aizu Railway Aizu Line. After visiting the Kannon-numa Forest Park for its autumn leaves, we travel by car for 20 minutes to our lodging for the night. Gohoso, located in Shinkashi Onsen, Fukushima Prefecture was founded in 1956. The scenic inn has a free-flowing spring and our room offers a splendid view of the autumn leaves. Dinner at the lodging comprises autumn dishes using local Fukushima seasonal ingredients. They include mountain vegetables and water fruits pickled in soy sauce; a rare Armarillia root picked by the chef from the mountains, served with vinegar; local potatoes filled with minced meat and topped with a chrysanthemum sauce; pumpkin soup; and beef fillet steak from Fukushima seasoned with Himalayan salt. After dinner, we relax in the inn’s natural hot spring which comes from its own source. 

The next morning, a healthy spread of 11 items is served for breakfast. It features local ingredients such as Koshihikari rice from Shirakawa City; kanayama natto made with high-quality groundwater; and blackened hot spring eggs from a farm owned by the proprietress’ family. After breakfast, we take a 30-minute taxi ride from Gohoso to Aizu-Shimogo Station, where we alighted the day before. Today, we will travel from this station to the last stop of Aizu Railway, Nishi-Wakamatsu Station, covering 10 stations and a total distance of 31.1km. 

We first ride on the Aizu Mount Express train To-no-Hetsuri Station. We then take a scenic five-minute walk surrounded by autumn leaves to To-no-Hetsuri. The tower-like formation of rocks has been designated as a national natural monument. This mysterious landscape has been formed by a million years of erosion and weathering. We then climb some stairs and reach a temple. It honours Tamuramaro Sakanoue, who made the Kiyomizudera Temple. It enshrines Kokuzo Bosatsu, a bodhisattva who brings wisdom and good fortune. It is also famous as a power spot, which is said to bring benefits such as a prosperous business and improved business performance. After this, we go to Hetsuri Kobo, right next to To-no-Hetsuri. It sells handmade kokeshi dolls and also conducts workshops on how to colour the dolls. 

Our next stop is Ashinomaki-Onsen Station, half an hour away from To-no-Hetsuri Station by train. This time, we travel on the popular Ozatoro viewing train. It is one of Aizu Railway’s most famous tourist trains. Passengers have a choice of three types of seats. O-zashiki seats have a foot warmer; the torokko carriage has wall-to-wall glass; and viewing seats are at the front of the train. The Ozatoro train stops for about a minute at scenic spots to let passengers fully enjoy the wonderful nature of Minamiaizu. 

The Ozatoro viewing train arrives at Ashinomaki-Onsen Station. It is popular among railroad fans as a station with a cat stationmaster called Love-chan. However, she passed away after serving as stationmaster for seven years. Now the station has Sakura-chan, an attendant. Another highlight at this station is the AT-301, a first-generation self-propelled Torokko train which is exhibited at the station grounds. There is also a driving simulator which was installed about three years ago. It uses the actual seat of a Torokko train. Visitors can experience driving a real train using the simulator.

We next head to Ashinomaki hot spring to check out a famous restaurant which serves local Ashinomaki cuisine. Gyunyuya Shokudo is a two-minute walk from Ashinomaki-Onsen Station and has been in business for nearly 100 years. It primarily sells milk but also serves katsudon and ramen. We order its most popular item, milk miso ramen, and katsudon with the restaurant’s signature sauce. 

We return to Ashinomaki-Onsen Station and take our last train of this journey to Nishi-Wakamatsu Station, the final stop on the Aizu Railway. We arrive at Nishi-Wakamatsu Station, four stations away from Ashinomaki-Onsen Station. During our two-day scenic train trip along the Yagan Railway Aizu Kinugawa Line and Aizu Railway Aizu Line, we covered a total distance of 88.1km and 29 stations. We end our trip by visiting a must-see spot in Nishi-Wakamatsu, Tsurugajo Castle. It was once the scene of the Boshin War and is now a symbol of the town which offers magnificent views.


1)    A must-see attraction along the Aizu Line is To-no-Hetsuri, a national natural monument
2)    Aizu Railway’s most famous train is the Ozatoro viewing train 


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