Okuizumo Orochi Train 奥出雲おろち号
You get two seats on this slow, romantic train to the high country
The Okuizumo Orochi Train winds its way up the narrow and scenic valleys of the Hikawa, a river whose eight tributaries are believed to be the eight bodies of the mythical serpent Orochi that was vanquished in one of Japan's oldest myths.
How to Get There
You can get on and off the train at any station along the route. The train operates from April until November on Fridays, weekends and national holidays. Reservations are usually necessary.
Every passenger gets two seats, one inside and one out
This romantic journey is very popular, passing as it does through some unspoiled rural scenery of rice terraces and thatched-roof farmhouses on its way up into the mountains. The train, however, is only ever half full because your ticket allows you two seats.
There are two carriages, one with windows and heaters in the winter and air conditioners in the summer, and an open carriage with no windows where the wind ruffles your hair and you can smell the fresh air. Change between the two as you wish.
Switchback up the mountainside
As you approach the Chugoku Mountains, the spine running down the west of Japan that separate this quiet, less populated side of Japan from the busy, industrialized big cities of the Pacific coast, you wonder how the train will get over this seemingly impenetrable barrier.
At Sakane Station, the train stops, and the driver walks to the back of the train and then reverses it up a slope. The train stops again and he comes back to the front and then and takes it up the next slope, in one of Japan's three remaining railway switchbacks.
Up on top, the train does a more than 180-degree curve, and you can catch a glimpse of the corkscrew-shaped Orochi Loop road that lets vehicles climb up and down.