Rail News


September 24 , 2021

Tourists climb aboard to visit scenic unstaffed train stations

The Asahi Shimbun 
September 23, 2021 (Japan)

Shimonada Station in Iyo, Ehime Prefecture, is an unstaffed, single-track train establishment, which seems to be off the beaten path.  

However, on a recent evening, a total of 50 individuals in couples and families showed up at the tiny station. 

Just in front of the platform is a broad expanse of the Seto Inland Sea. Gazing upon the ocean from a bench, one feels as if time is passing slowly.

What the visitors sought most is the “magical hour” when both the sky and sea are lit up in a beautiful color gradation of blue and red.

A pair of female visitors who described themselves as college students were staring at the scenery with dazzled eyes. They said they were stunned by “such a beautiful sunset that can be enjoyed from this site very close to the ocean.”

It takes about an hour by train to travel to Shimonada Station from Matsuyama, the prefectural capital, and only a single train stops there every hour.

Despite the difficult-to-reach location, the students were rapidly shooting photos to record “the most picturesque landscape worth visiting.”

Shimonada Station is among a growing number of unstaffed stations nationwide that rail operators and residents are rediscovering as tourist spots and regional bases.

Having no staff members throughout the day, those train stops boast various attractions such as magnificent views and a camping site directly linked to a station.

Still, many challenges remain given the current situation facing unmanned stations at which ensuring safety and securing ways for disabled people to travel freely is difficult.


According to Shikoku Railway Co. (JR Shikoku), Shimonada Station was completed in 1935.

Although it once flourished with passenger traffic and also as a center for mikan fruit shipping, the station became unstaffed in 1986 amid the decreased number of riders resulting from the spreading use of automobiles.


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