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