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Doai Station: The Deepest in Japan

Doai Station: The Deepest in Japan

In the middle of Gunma Prefecture, there is an infernal train station : this one takes you straight to the center of the earth! Almost. It is the deepest train station in activity in Japan: here is the Doai Station!

Abandoned Futuristic Building
Structure abandonnée.

The Doai Train Station

Sorry about that, but the picture above is actually not Doai, but another weird structure that I saw on the side of the road. The kind of stuff we always find when one drives in Japan. But let’s go straight to the subject of this article 🙂

Doai Station
La Gare de Doai.

This JR Train Station covers the Joetsu Line, and joins the Gunma Prefecture to Niigata Prefecture. This station is very far away from being abandoned! However, this place seems to be visited more by tourists than users. There is nothing much to do around the station itself. It is only the starting point of a few hikes.

Doai Station
La Gare de Doai.

The entrance of the station warns you : it is the deepest in Japan and you will have to go down (or up, multiplied by 2) the 486 stairs that bring you to the platform. But let’s be honest : we are already very used to that kind of deep station with infinite stairs in Tokyo ! But with his very special and dark ambiance, Doai really is an experience.

Doai Station
La Gare de Doai.

Journey to the center of the earth

The first part is an old tunnel that only allows you to cross the road, and leads you towards the entrance of the real tunnel that goes down deep inside the mountain.

Doai Station
À l’intérieur de la Gare de Doai.

Before that, there are the entrance doors. Surprisingly, I almost flew away when I tried to open one of them! The wind coming out of the tunnel is really crazy. I then tried to close the doors but it was impossible…

Doai Station
Portes de la station.

Once past this door, we are at the top of the stairs that go down to hell. Impossible to see the end of them from here. 486 stairs. It is actually pretty quick, it takes only a few minutes.

Doai Station
Descente en enfer.

Doai Station Platform

The platform looks like the one from a ghost station. There is almost nobody, I only met two families who came down here for the purpose of sightseeing. There is no activity whatsoever, it’s cold, the only bit of life comes from the neon lights. The place is not a haikyo yet.

Doai Station
Station de Doai.

This place is found right in the middle of the Shimizu Tunnel (a 14km long tunnel). It links the prefectures of Gunma and Niigata. Before this tunnel was built, the trains had to go through the Usui Pass and it took more than 4 hours of transportation to go to Niigata from Tokyo. I wrote an article about the Usui Pass a while ago, please check it out 🙂

Doai Station
Quai de la Station de Doai.

20 minutes later after my arrival, there was noise coming from far away. A dim light. A train? Is it going to stop here?!?

Doai Station
La Passagère.

Nobody is waiting for this train on the platform. Except me and my camera, very ready and still on the tripod. Here is the result.

Doai Station

The train didn’t stop at all and went at a crazy speed a few centimeters from my eyes. Security in Japan is not very constant! And it seems like a good place for suicide… but maybe a bit far from the metropolis 😉

Doai Station
Station de Doai: Exit.

Let’s go back!

After exploring every area of the train station I decide to go back. The way up is of course a bit more difficult but luckily, there are benches half-way! It is also quite romantic when you think about it.

Doai Station
Escaliers de la Station de Doai.

The nickname of this place is the “Best Station for Moles in Japan”. I am not sure they appreciate a gallery dug by human beings however.

Doai Station
Till the end!


Doai Station


Doai Station

Almost there…

Doai Station
La Sortie.

Yes. I did it! By the way, the deepest train station is actually the Yoshioka-Kaitei. This station has not been in activity since 2006 but the Shinkansen from Aomori to Hokkaido is still going through it.

  • Bianca Martinez

    Thanks for the awesome story & beautiful images! I would love to see this myself one day-adding it on my bucket list 😉

    • It’s a bit out of the way but if you drive around the area you should definitely stop by 🙂 And it’s a great place to visit at anytime, any season.

      • Bianca Martinez

        Great to know, It’s a long way for me to travel but definitely something inspiring enough to bring me out from California to Japan one day. Loved the idea of the romantic sitting area half way up the stairs 🙂 Great details!

  • Andrew

    Thank you for a wonderful website, filled with amazing photos and amazing stories. Makes me want to travel Japan… someday. 🙁 (stupid work and money)

    • Thank you Andrew! I hope you will come to Japan and spend a lot of money here because of Totoro Times, hahaha 🙂

      • Andrew M

        LOL, for sure, just need to pay off debt and save up money. But I will definitely go to Japan, and I will definitely reference your site for places that I should visit.

  • kawaiiasiatrends

    do you need permission to go in the building?

  • Jordy, with all these great places you are really “pushing” me to visit Japan ASAP 😉

  • SpinFrostX12 .

    A bit creepy, but good for people who need some exercise to lose their weight, running in the stairs quite tiring…

  • Genna Costello Vogt

    This one is great too! The picture with the train passing by – breathtaking! As Andrew said below, I wish I could visit Japan and see these amazing places as well! Maybe one day I can, my brother works for Toyota and travels to Japan several times a year for business. He said eventually he will be based there!

    • We had to wait for a while for this train to pass… but what an amazing moment! Just visit Japan when you have the chance, or make your chance 🙂

  • Stefano

    So, eventually, how did you go back to Tokyo from Doai? You mentioned the train didn’t stop at the station.


Who Am I

azalea, drone, flower, japan, japanese, kyushu, natural, nature, saga, spring

I am Jordy Meow, I am a French photographer living in Japan. My interest is to discover and share information about offbeat and lesser known locations for foreigners coming or living in Japan. I published books and now preparing new beautiful series of guidebooks.