Nairiku-sen is Akita Nairiku Jukan Tetsudo (秋田内陸縦貫鉄道；Akita Inland Longitudinal Railway) which connects Kakunodate （角館） and Takanosu （鷹巣）. The 100km railway goes through one of the most untouched Japanese rural villages. The timeless scenery of rice paddies, rivers, mountains, bridges and tunnels will leave you an unforgettable impression of your trip to Japan.
Courtesy of Akita Nairiku Jukan Tetsudo
Nairiku-sen is a slow train, while the world trend seems to prefer fast train like shinkansen (super-express “bullet” trains). The railway has been serving as an important transportation for the villagers in the remote location.
A local guide has told us: “it is the most patient railway of Japan. The operators would often wait for passengers-- especially old people. They would say ‘grandma, you don’t have to hurry. We wait. We don’t want you to fall and get hurt.’ They value the passengers and know the importance in the community.”
Photos Courtesy of Akita Nairiku Jukan Tetsudo
Holiday Free Kippu (Ticket) is a one-day ticket that allows you unlimited number of rides on Nairiku-sen trains, which is available on Saturdays, Sundays, and Japanese holidays. For only 2,000 yen, you can ride the trains as many times you want. A single fare from Kakunodate to Takanosu is 1,620 yen, so this is a great deal.
With area maps (ask at main stations), you can walk around the stations and learn the culture and history of the local area! Some stations are no-man stations (“mujin-eki”). Just show your ticket to the operator. If you want to pay a regular fare, just see the electric fare board or ask the operator :)
Winter is a special season for Nairiku-sen trains. The area is completely covered in white! Seeing the scenery while the train smashes through the snow will give you a feeling that is hard to capture in the photos. We strongly recommend you to experience it in person.