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Travelling by rail is often ideal for offering up some excellent scenery and photo opportunities due to a combination of inter-connectivity to local cities, and proximity to cultural landmarks.

Earlier this year, a photo of a Japanese couple travelling by train even went viral, as the couple kindly ducked out of the way to allow another passenger to take a picture of the iconic Mt Fuji.

To discover some of the top scenic train journeys across Japan, the experts at JR Pass analysed a selection of the country’s most popular scenic train routes, comparing factors such as ticket price, popularity, traveller reviews, and journey time in order to form their rankings.

Railway Country and Area Traveller Rating Popularity Journey time (mins) Ticket Price Yen(¥) Overall score/10
Sagano Romantic Train Japan, Kinki 8.12 6.2 25 898 8
Botchan Train Japan, Shikoku 8.9 6 20 1310 7.9
Limited Express Yufuin no Mori Japan, Fukuoka 8.6 3.4 210 5614 7.8
Shonan Monorail Japan, Kanto 8.8 4.4 15 318 7.7
Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko-go Japan, Hokkaido 8.7 3.4 50 842 7.6
  1. Sagano Romantic Train, Kinki, Japan

Earning the coveted title of Japan’s best scenic train journey, is the Sagano Romantic Train in Kinki, Japan, with a total score of 8 out of ten. 

The Sagano Romantic Train meanders through the scenic beauty of the Sagano Arashiyama region, renowned for its lush bamboo groves and traditional Japanese landscapes. The train passes through the famous Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, a natural wonder that captivates passengers with its towering bamboo stalks.

Extremely reasonable ticket prices of around ¥898, combined with a shorter journey time of just 25 minutes make the Sagano Romantic Train an ideal choice for day trips or half-day excursions. Travelers who are exploring other attractions in Kyoto and the surrounding areas can easily incorporate this scenic train ride into their itinerary without dedicating an entire day to the experience.

  1. Botchan Train, Shikoku, Japan

In second place with an overall score of 7.9 out of ten is the Botchan Train in Shikoku. The train is named after Natsume Soseki’s famous novel “Botchan,” which is set in Matsuyama, the capital city of Ehime Prefecture in Shikoku.

The Botchan Train takes a scenic route through the picturesque landscapes of Shikoku, providing passengers with awe-inspiring views of the countryside and coast. The train’s interior and exterior are decorated to reflect the cultural and historical aspects of the region.

A high traveller review rating of 8.9 out of ten and a short journey time of 20 minutes earn the Botchan train a well-deserved spot in the top five.

  1. Limited Express Yufuin no Mori, Fukuoka, Japan. 

Chugging its way into third place is the Limited Express Yufuin no Mori in Fukuoka, earning a total score of 7.8 out of ten.

The Yufuin no Mori travels through picturesque landscapes, offering passengers stunning views of rural scenery, mountains, and even glimpses of hot springs. The route is particularly scenic during cherry blossom season and autumn when the landscapes are adorned with vibrant colors.

The Limited Express nature of the train means that it makes fewer stops than regular trains, resulting in a faster and more direct journey between Fukuoka and Yufuin/Beppu.

  1. Shonan Monorail, Kanto, Japan. 

In fourth place is the Shonan Monorail in Kanto with an overall score of 7.7 out of ten.  Specifically serving the Kanagawa Prefecture, the Shonan Monorail features a sleek and modern design, providing passengers with a futuristic experience.

The monorail offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes as it glides above the ground. Passengers can enjoy scenic views of the city, bay, and possibly even Mount Fuji on clear days.

The monorail boasts the second highest traveler rating (8.8 out of ten) and lowest price (318 Yen) out of the top five, making it an ideal choice for tourists looking to get the most out of their money.

  1. Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko-go, Hokkiado, Japan. 

Rounding out the top five is the Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko-go in Hokkaido. The train travels through the beautiful and expansive Kushiro Shitsugen (Kushiro Marsh), which is Japan’s largest wetland and an important nature reserve. Passengers can enjoy panoramic views of the marshland, lakes, and diverse wildlife.

The Kushiro Marsh is home to a variety of wildlife, including Japanese cranes, deer, and various bird species. The open-air design of the Norokko-go provides an excellent opportunity for passengers to spot and appreciate the rich biodiversity of the region.

journey time of just under an hour, combined with an overall score of 7.6 out of ten make the Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko-go an ideal journey for those seeking a peaceful and immersive experience.

Haroun Khan at JR Pass comments: “We may be biased, but we wholeheartedly believe that Japan has some of the most beautiful, relaxing, and breathtaking train journeys in the world.”

“No matter the destination, travelling by rail is one of the most efficient, cost-effective and rewarding ways to immerse yourself in a country’s rich cultural heritage and take home memories that will last a lifetime.”

 

 





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