Explore Ibaraki by Local Trains! 3 Charming Railway Lines

Explore Ibaraki by Local Trains! 3 Charming Railway Lines

Traveling in Ibaraki's expansive landscape by local train lines will leave you with unforgettable memories. Each of these railway companies has been working hard to find ways to attract more passengers, and their train-related goods are brimming with originality. This article introduces three charming train lines that even non-rail enthusiasts will want to ride at least once!

Ibaraki's Local Railways Are Attractive in Various Ways!


Picture courtesy of Kashima Rinkai Railway

Taking a journey on Japan’s local trains is a unique experience. Hop aboard a one or two-car train traveling along a non-electrified line. You’ll enjoy a visit to an unmanned station reminiscent of a scene straight from anime while marveling at stunning rural sights.

Trips like this are possible in Ibaraki, with each railway showcasing its unique features. This article introduces three private railway companies along with their distinctive train lines. First, Hitachinaka Seaside Railway is known for having many sightseeing spots along its routes. Next up is Kashima Rinkai Railway, which offers impressive views from its elevated train tracks. Lastly, the Kanto Railway holds a variety of fun and exciting events.

Each route has its unique charm, ensuring passengers have a fun railway journey!

Hitachinaka Seaside Railway Minato Line: Offering Many Sightseeing Spots along the Way!

Picture courtesy of Hitachinaka Seaside Railway

Hitachinaka Seaside Railway’s (Japanese) Minato Line is located in Hitachinaka City in the central region of Ibaraki Prefecture. The line operates between Katsuta Station and Ajigaura Station, covering a distance of 14.3 kilometers. Passengers on the JR Joban Line can transfer to the Minato Line at Katsuta Station.

The Minato Line is a long-established route with a history spanning 110 years. At one time, the company was in the red and in danger of being taken out of service. However, the Hitachinaka Seaside Railway Company took over operations in 2008. The railway line’s conditions improved with support from locals and the government. This is a route with colorful stories and an equally rich history.

There are numerous sightseeing spots along the Minato Line, and the route is well known for its easy accessibility.

Among the most unique sightseeing spots is Hitachinaka Kaiun Tetsudo Shrine at Ajigaura Station. Here, you’ll find the only shrine in the world that sits atop a railway line.

The shrine’s object of worship is a KiHa 222 diesel unit. The train was originally utilized by Hokkaido’s Haboro Tanko Railway, which was a mine railway. It was also in service along the Minato Line from 1971 until 2015. Despite its long service, the train maintained an accident-free record. Today, the shrine protects visitors from traffic accidents and offers them good fortune for a long and healthy life. The torii gate was made by reusing rails from the Minato Line when its tracks were first laid in 1925.

Santetsu Monogatari, the company that manages the shrine, holds events for children every Saturday. Inside the orange-colored railcar behind the train shrine, there’s a model railroad available for public viewing. The train shrine is open to the public several times a year. Additionally, special events are held where visitors can go inside the carriage and take a closer look.

In addition to Ajigaura Station, where the shrine is located, Nakaminato Station is another spot worth noting. The station building dates back roughly 110 years, with its interior exuding a nostalgic, retro atmosphere. If you’re lucky, you might even see the second-generation “station cat,” loved by staff and passengers alike.

You can also rent an electric bike (1,000 yen per day) at Nakaminato Station and explore the nearby area on your own. For example, the Nakaminato Fish Market is a popular gourmet spot where you can savor local seafood specialties. In Oarai town, you can enjoy the breathtaking sight of Oarai Isosaki Shrine’s torii gate by the sea. Finally, you can delight in a moment of relaxation at Aqua World Ibaraki Prefectural Oarai Aquarium.

When your day comes to a close, there are various spots in Oarai where you
can return your bike (Japanese), making this a fun and convenient way to go sightseeing.

Picture courtesy of Oraga Minato Tetsudo Oendan


There are plenty of other sightseeing spots worth visiting. These include Hiraiso Beach near Hiraiso Station and the railway crossings between Hiraiso Station and Tonoyama Station that offer scenic views of the Pacific Ocean. Then there’s Sakatsura Isosaki Shrine near Isozaki Station and Hoshiimo Shrine near Ajigaura Station. Additionally, plans to extend the rail line as far as Hitachi Seaside Park are in store in the future. This popular spot is currently a 10-minute bus ride from Ajigaura Station.

We recommend using the Minato Line 1-Day Free Ticket (1,000 yen), allowing you to tour all these interesting places.

You’ll find a wide variety of goods at Nakaminato Station, including key holders emblazoned with the station’s name, IC card cases, good luck charms from Hitachinaka Kaiun Tetsudojinja Shrine, and station cat-related goods. These are all cute items, so if one catches your eye, please pick it up before someone else does!

Kashima Rinkai Railway Oarai Kashima Line: Enjoy Splendid Views from the Elevated Train Tracks!

Picture courtesy of Kashima Rinkai Railway

The Oarai Kashima Line along the Kashima Rinkai Railway (Japanese) connects Minato Station in central Ibaraki with JR Kashimajinju Station, covering a total distance of 56.2 kilometers. Along the way, trains stop at Kashima Soccer Stadium (game days only) in southeast Ibaraki.

This line has two distinct features.

Most people don’t usually notice the first feature. Except for two railway crossings near Mito Station, there aren’t any railway crossings along this line!

Picture courtesy of Kashima Rinkai Railway

The second feature is that many sections along the line have elevated train tracks. Therefore, passengers can enjoy scenic vistas of the surrounding countryside from their high perch in the railcar. Along the Oarai Kashima Line, many picturesque spots combine the beauty of trains and scenery. These attractions make it a popular route among photo buffs and train enthusiasts.

There are many memorable spots near Tsunezumi Station that you’ll want to capture on film. For example, passing trains are reflected on the water’s surface in the nearby rice paddies during the spring. Then, you can watch the trains passing through the lush greenery of the rice fields in the summer. Visitors are drawn to the charms of this spectacular scenery during each season.

Picture courtesy of Kashima Rinkai Railway

Kitaura-Kohan Station is also popular for its scenic beauty. At this unmanned station near Lake Kitaura, the platform sits on elevated ground, offering unforgettable views of the lake and rice paddies below.

For a breathtaking photo opportunity in Oarai, make sure to visit the towering 55-meter-tall Oarai Marine Tower. Many photography enthusiasts visit the tower to capture images of the red-colored railcars passing by in a graceful arc-like fashion down below.

Picture courtesy of Kashima Rinkai Railway

If you have a telephoto lens, you can also take close-up pictures of the S-shaped railway line the trains run along. This is an extremely attractive route for those who love railway photography.

Picture courtesy of Kashima Rinkai Railway

The Oarai Kashima Line of the Kashima Rinkai Railway presents many opportunities for capturing exquisite photographs. Oarai Station’s gift shop also sells key holders, railway scenery postcards, clear folders, and many other attractive goods. Visitors who love local railways will want to take advantage of these valuable items.

Kanto Railway Joso Line: Offering Enjoyable Train-Related Events!

Picture courtesy of the Kanto Railway

The Kanto Railway (Japanese) operates two non-electrified lines and owns 55 diesel cars. We’ll introduce the Joso Line, which dates back 100 years. This 51.1-kilometer-long route joins Toride Station in southern Ibaraki with Shimodate Station in western Ibaraki. Passengers can transfer to the Joso Line from the JR Joban Line at Toride Station, the JR Mito Line at Shimodate Station, and the Tsukuba Express Line at Moriya Station.

The Joso Line area has a concentrated population, so a double-track railway line runs between Toride Station and Mitsukaido Station. But from Mitsukaido Station, the line reverts to a single-track line―a common sight along local train routes.

Picture courtesy of the Kanto Railway

Partway along this line, the scenery also changes dramatically. As the trains travel between Toride Station and Mitsukaido Station, they pass through many residential areas. Soon after leaving Mitsukaido Station, the scenery changes into pastoral landscapes, and passengers are treated to a magnificent view of Mt. Tsukuba―one of the 100 Famous Japanese Mountains―off in the distance.

Picture courtesy of the Kanto Railway

The Joso Line’s main feature is the large number of events actively held year-round. These are collaborations between local businesses and municipalities, with the charms of these events conveyed to visitors in this region.

For example, famous Japanese beer makers Asahi Breweries and Kirin Brewery have factories along this line. Therefore, the two companies joined forces and put on an event called “Beer Train.” During this event, passengers can sit back and enjoy a three-hour all-you-can-drink beer experience. They are even allowed to bring their own snacks on board. Passengers can enjoy a rare experience of sampling beer while riding on a commuter train.

Ibaraki’s famous craft beer maker, Kiuchi Brewery, and local sake brewing companies and wineries also hold tasting train events.

Picture courtesy of the Kanto Railway

The Kanto Railway also offers an actual train driving experience―a dream come true for railway enthusiasts! This takes place inside Mitsukaido Station’s railyard. The hands-on experience has three levels: beginner, intermediate, and special level. After receiving some classroom instruction beforehand, participants will operate an actual in-service railcar for a distance of 150 meters, all under the watchful eye of an experienced driver. Please note that for safety reasons, international visitors interested in participating are asked to have a certain level of Japanese language proficiency.

These train events and hands-on driving experience require advance reservations (Japanese).

Picture courtesy of the Kanto Railway

The Kanto Railway also sells various goods, such as model railroads, socks, key holders, clear files, and handkerchiefs. In fact, many of these items were developed by staff members. If you have an opportunity to ride one of Kanto Railway’s lines, please be sure to pick up one of these items as well.

Let's Take a Ride on One of Ibaraki's Local Trains!

There are many other railway companies and local train lines in Ibaraki, including the Tsukuba Express, Moka Railway, JR Mito Line, and JR Suigun Line. Each offers its own unique features, and visiting passengers can fully enjoy these unforgettable experiences.

Check out the links below if you’re interested in topics related to this article.
Hitachi Seaside Park in Spring: Enjoy the Stunning Sight of Nemophila!