An Illustrated Guide to Train Journey’s Trains
Between Kushiro and Tōro
A train that lets its passengers enjoy the expansive landscape of the Kushiro Wetlands from its broad, open windows has made its debut. That train is the “Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko Train,” which is in service between Kushiro and Tōro on the Senmo Main Line. Comprised of a coupling of “Norokko”-model observation cars that are specially tailored to enjoying scenery, this train treats anyone who rides it to the Kushiro Wetlands’ gorgeous landscape.
Picture yourself departing from Kushiro Station on a journey by train to the Kushiro Wetlands. After crossing Kushiro River, trains separate into the Senmo Main Line and the Nemuro Main Line at Higashi-Kushiro Station. Your train will head along the Kushiro River towards the Wetlands. Once you see Mount Meakan, Mount Oakan and Mount Akanfuji come into view in the distance, you will know that your train has entered the Kushiro Wetlands.
After departing from Kushiro Shitsugen Station, your train will turn along a large curb, and move leisurely along as the beautiful nature found right in the middle of the Kushiro Wetlands appears in the train windows. After passing Hosooka Station and proceeding along the winding Kushiro River, you will notice people enjoying a canoe ride downstream. The combination of the refreshing breeze blowing through the wide-open windows and the beautiful landscapes passing by will bring your journey by train to a crescendo, shortly after which you will arrive at your final destination at Tōro Station.
This diesel engine car is connected to the front of Car No. 1 on the side of the train facing Tōro. The paint on the cars was altered to match the Norokko Train.
These benches installed in observation cars towards the window side seat two. The movable backrest on the benches lets passengers sit while facing the inside of the train car.
Connected to Car No. 2 through 4 are Norokko-model observation cars. Box seats for six with an accompanying table and bench seats for two are available inside
Car No. 1, an ordonary car with unreserved seating, is a 50-series passenger car for local train use. This historical, nostalgic train car is equipped with the same box seats for four used in a local train.
Car No. 3 on the Norokko Train is barrier-free and therefore accessible with the use of a wheelchair. This car contains a wheelchair space and a multipurpose bathroom that accommodates wheelchairs.
A counter selling train ride memorabilia, snacks, beverages, dessert and more can be found in Car No. 2. Shown in the photograph is the popular “Norokko Train” pudding.
This station within the Kushiro Wetlands opened in July 23, 1988. Originally a temporal station, it entered year-round service starting December 1, 1996.
Japan’s largest wetlands, the Kushiro Wetlands are located in the Kushiro Plains. These expansive wetlands combined with Mount Meakan and Mount Oakan make for some gorgeous scenery visible from the window of trains running along the Senmo Main Line.
Located on the eastern side of the Kushiro Wetlands, this observatory is within walking distance from JR Kushiro Shitsugen Station. Here, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the Kushiro River winding through the great expanse of the Kushiro Wetlands as well as the Akan Mountain Range.
A freshwater lake located in the town of Shibecha in eastern Hokkaido, Lake Tōro hosts a variety of attractions along its lakefront, such as the Shibecha Local Museum, camping grounds, and the Tōro Nature Center.
Canoeing along the Kushiro River lets you experience a different aspect of the Kushiro Wetlands depending on where you ride, be the river’s source originating from Kussharo or the various areas along the river’s midstream and downstream. Canoeists from all over Japan yearn to navigate this river.
Try this dish to savor the tasty flavor of wild deer meat originating from East Hokkaido. One of the canoe tour plans organized by the Tōro Nature Center lets participants try this hamburger for lunch at the “Mary Had a Little Lamb” slow food café located within the center.
Text and photos by: Yoshiyuki Kekke, traveloguer
Certain photos courtesy of: JR Hokkaido/Tōro Nature Center/Urabe Research Laboratory
*Data contained above is as of June 2014.