The Sagano Romantic Train 嵯峨野観光鉄道
The line is famous for the cherry trees lining the route
Credit: Yokoso Japan
...and for the stunning red leaves in autumn
A view of Hozu Gorge
A Train Unlike Any Other
Proudly proclaimed as the one true scenic train of Japan, Sagano Railway line has become the main attraction of the Arashiyama district and is a must for couples and lovers of Japan.
Originally the line was part of the Japan Rail lines, and linked since 1899 to Arashiyama in the former province of Tamba. Left behind in favor of a more modern line in 1989, since 1990 it has become a purely tourist line, playing up its dated style. The diesel locomotive and wagons really give you the impression of being in the beginning of the Showa era, even though they shine with new and brilliant colors.
Closer to nature
Four trains run on this line: three of them are closed but the latter is completely open to let you appreciate the sweetness of the air in the Hozu River Gorge, which flows all the way to Kameoka. The 7km journey is completed in 25 minutes, which leaves ample time to photograph and admire the view.
The scenery is well worth it, as the Hozu Gorge is a space that remains intact and where cranes are said to still frolick in the river below. In the spring, the cherry blossoms make the trip entirely pale pink, while the fall foliage brightens the route in stunningly intense colors. Summer is no exception either, with its lush greenery. Whatever the season, the ride is beautiful, except in winter when the line is closed.
Visitors should be careful because tickets can only be purchased at the departure station of Torokko Saga. The line is particularly popular with Japanese, as after all it is the Sagano Romantic Train. Therefore it's better to come in the morning, preferably as early as you can, to be sure to reserve seats.
Once you're on the other side of the Hozu Gorge, there are only three choices: leave by the same route or take the JR Sagano line, much less romantic. Or perhaps choose to extend the experience in the nature that surrounds Kyoto, by returning by boat and choosing one of the boat cruises on the Hozu where you can see trains coming in the other direction.
Your morning in Arashiyama will be a true breath of fresh air.