To Makurazaki and back

Only at Wakkanai, in the north, does the geographical extreme compass point correspond with the terminus of the line. But I am not happy unless I have travelled all the way until the end. 

I rode the Makurazaki Line all the way until it’s namesake, bumping around on the two carriage diesel rail car. It feels positively tropical here, with the humidity, temperature and volcanic soils contributing to luscious growth. Shrubs and grasses slap at the windows of the train. 

There are glimpses of the grey ocean over farmland and towns, sometimes interesting rock formations, deep rivers lined with pines, bamboo and vines. 

At Nishi-Oyama most of the train exits to take photographs of the southernmost station. I wonder if they’ll do the same on the way back. But most of the Cantonese and Korean tourists are off the train now, leaving at intermediate stops for the various coastal attractions. 

I only have time at Makurazaki to grab junk food for the ride back. There are only a few trains that do the whole run per day. It’s a pity, because Makurazaki is known for seafood. Seared bonito tuna sounds yummy, if it’s like that I ate at Kochi on another trip. 

From here it’s back to Kagoshima and the Shinkansen back to Osaka. 

Nishi-Oyama: Mission Complete! 

The southernmost station in Japan’s railway system (excluding the Naha monorail, but that’s not actually part of the network and not a real train depending on your definition!). 


The sea outside the window was so flat, a polished version of the turbulent sky above. The clouds hid the top of Sakurajima, the active volcano that overlooks Kagoshima. 

I have half an hour here at Ibusuki. Too little time to do much but soak my feet in the ashi-yu in front of the station. Then it’s a local train to Makurazaki. 

Ibusuki no Tamatebako

The Ibusuki no Tamatebako is one of JR Kyushu’s special trains and I’m riding it all the way down to Ibusuki. It’s basically an old rail car with the interior done up with lots of wood. It’s also full of annoying tourists with cameras, like me.

A Kagoshima tram to nowhere

Arrived exhausted at Kagoshima-Chuo last night. Haven’t been here since Alex was four months old. I found a 24 hour Joyfull Diner near the JR Kyushu hotel where I could eat a cheap and filling supper. Nice machine hot chocolate too. 

This morning I caught a tram just for the heck of it. I chose the wrong direction and couldn’t find anywhere to eat breakfast when I got off. Then I forgot that my train is an hour later so rushed back unnecessarily to Kagoshima-Chuo station. No matter. 

Another long day starting off with a special train… 

To Sasebo – west part 2

Another mission accomplished and wow!

The Nishi-Kyushu Line between Imari and Sasebo is amazing. Coastal and mountain scenery, terraced rice paddies, green tunnels and soaring sea eagles.  I stood the whole time at the front of the train.

While Tabirahiradoguchi is the westernmost regular train station in Japan, Sasebo is the westernmost Japan Rail system station. The Nishi-Kyushu Line was actually part of the Japan Railway network before becoming a “third sector” operation by the Matsuura Railway. 

Anyway, I’ve done both and only the south remains. That means jumping aboard the JR Kyushu local at Sasebo and the a couple more trains to get to Kagoshima tonight. 

All aboard the Matsuura Railway

Changed at Arita to the third sector Matsuura Railway bound for Imari and then the westernmost station of Tabirahiradoguchi. 

It’s greener on the outside 

Kyushu has experienced deadly flooding in the past week, leading to the closure of some railway lines. Thankfully not any I planned to take, but many lives have been impacted. 

It’s grey and wet here, a seasonal rain band crossing the southernmost of the big four islands. 

The interior of this train is dark too, more black than green.

The map shows the region I’ll be travelling in this afternoon. Lots of changing trains.