Chiba Prefecture, located in the eastern part of Kanto, is home to many hidden gems that are often overlooked by tourists.
One of the best ways to explore the prefecture is by taking a ride on the Kominato and Isumi Railways.
These two scenic train lines offer a unique and unforgettable experience that will take you through some of Chiba’s most picturesque landscapes.
The Kominato Railway is a 39.1-kilometer railway that runs between Goi Station and Kazusa-Nakano Station.
The Kominato Railway began in the early Taisho era (1912-1926), when landowners and wealthy farmers in the Yoro River basin took the initiative in planning the construction of a railroad to promote the inland areas of the BosoPeninsula.
The license for the route from the current Goi Station (Ichihara City) on the Uchibo Line to Kominato (KamogawaCity) on the outer Boso via Tsurumai was approved in 1913.
At that time, the most prosperous area along the route was the castle town of Tsurumai (now Tsurumai, Ichihara City), where the Tsurumai Domain Office was located in the early Meiji period.
The name “Tsurumai” was chosen because the view from the hill resembles a crane spreading its wings and dancing.
The Kominato Railway offers a nostalgic experience, with many places remaining as they were when the line was completed.
The Kominato Railway has a total of 18 stations.
Stations where the trolley train stops are indicated by the station name in orange.
Goi (This is the first and last station on the Kominato Railway and is the transfer station for the JR line. It is also the first and last stop for trolley trains.)
Kazusa-murakami (The site of the Kazusa-Kokubunji, built by Emperor Shomu, is located here.)
Kazusa-Yamada (officially registered as a Tangible Cultural Property of Japan in 2017)
Koufudai (the newest station)
Kazusa-Ushiku (The busiest station along the line. The trolley train stops here.)
Kazusa-kawama (A small unmanned station tucked away in the vast countryside)
Kazusa-Tsurumai (an old castle town, famous for its cherry blossoms, recognized as one of the “100 Best Stations in Kanto” in 1998, and often used for filming TV dramas, gravure magazines, etc.)
Kazusa-kubo (The station’s trademark is a single large ginkgo tree inside the station.)
Takataki (This station is adjacent to Takataki Lake, Ichihara City’s largest tourist attraction. The trolley train stops here.)
Satomi (The site where mountain gravel is buried. The trolley car stops here)
Tsukizaki (The nearest station to the Cibanian, a geological formation that reverses the earth’s magnetic field. The trolley car stops here.)
Kazusa-Okubo (This is a stop on the Daifukuyama and Umegase Valley hiking trails.)
Yoro-Keikoku (This is the gateway to Yoro Valley and Yoro Hot Spring Village. There are many places of interest such as Yoro Hot Spring, Kannon Bridge, Syusse Kannon, Suigetsuji, and Ishigami rape flower fields. It is the last and first station of the trolley train)
Kazusa-Nakano (The first and last station of Kominato Railway and a connecting station with Isumi Railway)
The following is continued to Isumi Railway.
The Isumi Railway is a 26.8-kilometer railway that runs between Kazusa-Nakano Station and Ohara Station.
In 1930, 15.9 km of the line between Ohara and Otaki stations opened to traffic, followed by 6.4 km between Otaki and Sougen stations in 1933, and 4.6 km between Sougen and Joso-Nakano stations the following year, with the entire 26.9 km line opening to traffic in 1934.
The Isumi Railway runs at a slower speed than an automobile, leisurely through the satoyama as if blending into the tranquil landscape.
The areas along the Isumi Railway are also popular among photographers, and such scenes of people with cameras in hand taking pictures of the railroad and the satoyama scenery are now an everyday occurrence.
The Isumi Railway has a total of 14 stations.
Kazusa-Nakano (The first and last station of Isumi Railway and a connecting station with Kominato Railway)
Otaki (Otaki Castle, Otaki Herb Garden, Important Cultural Property Watanabe Family Residence, Oya Ryokan, etc.)
Kazusa-Nakagawa (Gyogenji, Arakine Dam, Ihachi no Nami, etc.)
Kuniyoshi (Izumo Taisha Kazusa Church, Kuniyoshi Shrine, etc.)
Niitano (Gentaihoji, etc.)
Kazusa-Azuma (Genji Firefly Village, Dragonfly Swamp, etc.)
Nishi-ohara (Hatsuzaka Pass, Yumiorizuka Mound, etc.)
Ohara (the first and last station on the Isumi Railway line, and a transfer station with JR lines)
Day Trip Plan for Weekends and Holidays
We have created a local train trip to enjoy the rape blossoms of spring at a leisurely pace by taking a trolley train for a part of the 65.9 km crossing of Boso from Goi to Ohara using the Kominato Railway and the Isumi Railway.
The rape blossoms along this line usually bloom from mid-February onward, but the best season to see them is from mid-March to mid-April.
The cherry blossoms usually bloom from late March to early April, so if your timing is right, you can enjoy both of the cherry blossoms and rape blossoms from the train window.
The trolley trains do not run every day, so please check the official website for details.
In addition to the train ticket, a reserved seat ticket is required for the trolley train.
You cannot make reservations on the day of the train ride, so reservations must be made at least 30 days prior to the scheduled date of the ride and at least one day before the date of the ride via the website.
Please note that on the day of the tour, tickets can only be displayed by smartphone, and cannot be displayed by any other device.
Please check the official website for details.
Get off at Goi Station on the JR Uchibo Line and transfer to the Kominato Railway.
Board a trolley train that has already been reserved the day before and depart from Goi Station on the Kominato Railway at 9:28 a.m.
*After March 18, 2023, the departure time is scheduled to change from 9:11 to 9:28 due to a timetable revision.
Please check the departure time when you make a reservation for the trolley train, just to be sure.
*Lunch can be purchased at the Satomi Station stop.
The train will arrive at Satomi Station at 10:51 a.m. and is scheduled to stop for approximately 10 minutes.
Snacks and drinks are temporarily sold on the platform.
The train will depart from Satomi Station at 11:01.
This is the last stop of the trolley train.
The train will arrive at Yoro-Keikoku Station at 11:28.
We will change to a local train from here and head for Kazusa-Nakano Station. Since we have about an hour to transfer, we will take a leisurely stroll around Yoro-Kaikoku Station.
First, we will head for the photo spot “Ishigami Rape Blossom Field,” an 11-minute walk (800m) northwest (back direction) from the station.
The trolley train that we just boarded is turning back to Goi Station, so we will try to take a combination photo of the trolley train and the rape blossoms.
The trolley train will depart from Yoro-Keikoku Station at 11:41 a.m., so if you can make it in time, you may be able to take a photo like this.
Next, head for Hourinji (Temple).
Returning the way you came, it is a 6-minute walk (500m) south from Yoro-Kaikoku Station.
Horinji Temple is associated with the Satomi clan, which was powerful in Boso during the Warring States period, and also houses the grave of Princess Tane, the model for the heroine in “Nanso Satomi Hakkenden.
Return to Yoro-Keikoku Station and take the 12:34 regular train to Kazusa-Nakano Station, the last stop on the Kominato Railway.
The train arrives at 12:44.
Connect to the Isumi Railway train departing at 12:51.
Otaki Station (Isumi Railway)
You will arrive at Otaki Station at 13:12.
From Otaki Station, walk west for 8 minutes (650m) to Otaki Castle.
Otaki Castle was built by Honda Tadakatsu, one of the four Tokugawa kings.
The largest well in Japan, measuring 10 meters in circumference and 20 meters in depth, is still standing in Ninomaru.
Returning to Otaki Station, a 3-minute walk (240 m) to the east is the Watanabe Family Residence, an Important Cultural Property.
This area (Kubo, Sakuradai, and Shindo districts) retains the atmosphere of a castle town, and is dotted with buildings that have remained unchanged since the Edo period, including sake stores, breweries, and inns that are registered as tangible cultural properties of Japan, and are a reminder of the old days.
Return to Otaki Station and catch the 14:09 regular train to Ohara.
From Otaki Station, slowly enjoy the rape blossoms as you head for Ohara Station, the last stop on the train.
They can also be seen between Otaki and Kuniyoshi Stations, around Jomigaoka Station, and around Niitano Station.
In particular, the cherry blossoms along the route are at their best from around late March to early April.
After a 32-minute ride, the train arrives at Ohara Station, the last stop, at 14:41.
At the store inside Ohara Station, you can buy original Isumi Railway products and local specialties.
You can also purchase Ohara’s local sake at the Kidoizumi Sake Brewery, located a 5-minute walk (320m) northwest of Ohara Station.
How was it?
The 65.9-km train ride from Goi Station on the Kominato Railway to Ohara Station on the Isumi Railway, a total of 31 stations, offers a unique and unforgettable experience through some of the most beautiful scenery in the Boso area of Chiba Prefecture.
Especially from around mid or late March to early April, if your timing is right, you can enjoy a local train journey through rape blossoms and cherry blossoms.
Rape blossoms can be seen in most areas, as they are in bloom along 15 km of the entire 26.8 km section of the Isumi Railway.
Now, grab your camera and head out to experience the nostalgic atmosphere of the railroad, the satoyama scenery, and the nostalgic atmosphere!