Paper phantoms

We picked up our 14 day Japan Rail Pass vouchers from Pitt Travel this evening. I also grabbed a copy of the free JNTO Tourist Map of Japan, a treasured reference when it comes to planning trips. The map shows major railway lines, roads, onsens and other sites across the islands.

While gazing at Hokkaido, the large north island to which I’ve never been, I noticed a long stretch of private railway running between Ikeda and Kitami. That would probably contain some pretty interesting scenery, I thought to myself.  I wonder what it’s called and what its story is.

Some net searching later I had my answer: the Hokkaido Chihoku Highland Line. Sadly, after 95 years of service, it closed in April of 2006. The (Daily) Rail Photo has an account of riding on the line in its last days of service.

Now it exists only as a phantom line on a piece of paper.

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