A Small Trip to the Depth of Chiba on Kominato Railway – Part 1

A small trip on the Kominato Railway

Last Christmas, I had a small trip on the Kominato Railway to Yoro Ravine in Chiba. Yoro Ravine (養老渓谷) is on the middle of Boso Peninsula, which is a peninsula that encompasses the entirety of Chiba Prefecture on Honshu, the largest island of Japan. When I first came to Japan, I was attracted by the name of the spot “Yoro”, which means “retirement”. This name matches the reality, Yoro Ravine is a street of Japanese hot springs, so maybe I could say, YOLO(You Only Live Once), why not spend your time in YORO? 

No more joking, let me tell you about my interesting trip there. To reach the spot, you can take the local railway called Kominato. Japan has a deep culture for local railways. As they usually have a long history, a lot of people will visit a city just to see the old trains and railways. In Japan, they even have a special word for people who have a high fever on taking pictures of old trains – ToriTetsu (撮り鉄). If you are a Japanese drama fan, you must also know the SL Ginga train in the drama of Fake Affair (偽装不倫), it was so romantic! 

Taken the normal subway to the station of Goi(五井), I bought one day pass and also the special ticket for sightseeing train of Kominato Railway. 

You need the normal ticket for Kominato Railway first, if you want to have sightseeing in a windowless train, you still need to buy another ticket (right). 

The sight seeing train is like this, called Yamazato Torokko.  

You can book the seats here :


Christmas was cold enough in Chiba and the sightseeing train had no windows, so I guessed there must be only me and my friends who chose this timing to come. But what a surprise, the small train was packed with families and couples, of course I found some ToriTetsu with professional cameras hanging on their necks. 

There was a man in his 60s sitting on our right side on the train. Different from other excitedly chatting families and couples, he came by himself, quietly looking out at the view with a cup of coffee emitting hot air. “It is so cool of him having a trip by himself on a day like Christmas and looking like so enjoying it.” my friend said. 

A day like Christmas is getting hard on people with themselves in big cities like Tokyo. In Japan, shopping departments are making  so much promotion sending messages like Christmas is a day to spend with your partners which makes it now like another Valentine’s Day. There was even an old slang word for the situation of spending Christmans by yourself – Kuribocchi (クリぼっち), Kuri for Christmas’ pronunciation in Japanese, Bocchi means all by yourself. 

We were so lucky to find that during this period of time the city was also holding a culture and art exhibition fair around the stations of the railway. The exhibition is called Ichihara Art x Mix 2020+, and the artists from around the world exhibited their works here. 

A quick shot of an astronaut waiting at the station of Kazusa-Murakami. This is station building project of the artist called

Leonid Tishkov. The title of this work is Mr. Murakami’s Last Flight, or Waiting for A Moon-Bound Train. 

“We are on a Moon-Bound train with Mr.Murakami!” I told my friends on the train in surprise. 

If you come on this trip in spring, there will be a splendid yellow view of Nanohana bloom. But I still enjoyed the wide and simple view like this in winter time. 

Another art work of wood faces along the road. 

You could see the orange fruit plant like this along the way. The orange color was so vivid and it made me imagine the stepmother of Snow White must be living in the house and will use these small fruits to get close to the princess. 

An old station sign. 

After more than 1 hour’s running, we got close to the center of nature. I didn’t take a picture, but the train also passed through several long tunnels. In the dark tunnels, the little lights decorated on the body of the train were turned on and twincled. I could only hear the wind whistling through my ears and the sound of wheels running on the tracks. One half of the time I thought it was so mysterious that I was like Harry Potter getting on some train to the magic world, the other half I was a little frightened about what to do if my friend sitting in front of me suddenly became Zombie when the light was back. 

Passing through the adventure of tunnels, a cat sleeping on the other side of the track in the sunshine brought me to reality. I was relieved my friends were themselves instead of changing into other creatures. 

Finally after two and a half hours’ train, we arrived at the final station of Yoro Ravine. Before going directly to the Onsen spot, we needed to charge our energy with lunch. I will tell the stories onward in Part 2 next time.