Trip to Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku in 2016 winter – Part 5, Matsumoto to Takaoka via Toyama

Old style name plate of Matsumoto station
Old style name plate of Matsumoto station

This post is continued from Trip to Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku in 2016 winter – Part 4, Nagoya to Matsumoto via Magome.

The second half of 4th day of my trip, I took whole part of Oito line from Matsumoto to Itoigawa. And then I took Hokuriku Shinkansen to Shin-Takaoka with dinner stop at Toyama.

*The information in this article is current at the time of writing.

Oito line train trip from Matsumoto to Shina-Omachi

Matsumoto 13:09 (Oito line local train) 14:05 Shinano-Omachi

I have taken Oito line train from Matsumoto to Hakuba before. But it was many many years ago when I was a high school student. I wanted to brush up my memory and I decided to take this route again.

The scenery along Oito line is one of the best view. We can see Northern Japan Alps mountains on left side from Matsumoto.

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After one hour train trip, I got Shinano-Omachi.

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Shinano-Omachi is well known as the gateway to Takayama-Kurobe Alpine Route. You can take a bus to Ogizawa where is the departure point of Alpine Route in summer season. When I got there, it was off season and very quiet.

Shinano-Omachi station building is quite small.
Shinano-Omachi station building is quite small.
This store is located next to Shinano-Omachi station. If you use luggage delivery service, this store is pick up and drop off place.
This store is located next to Shinano-Omachi station. If you use luggage delivery service, this store is pick up and drop off place.

Shinano-Omachi station is very small and you will never lose your way.

Shinano-Omachi station has two platforms and 2 tracks.
Shinano-Omachi station has two platforms and 2 tracks.

Oito line train trip from Shina-Omachi to Itoigawa

Shinano-Omachi 15:08 (Oito line local train) 16:07 Minami-Otari 16:24 (Oito line local train) 17:21 Itoigawa

I got on local train again.
I got on local train again.

After leaving from Shinano-Omachi station, the mountains are very closed to the track.

Lots of snow beside the track.
Lots of snow beside the track.

There are many popular ski slopes along this line. Especially Hakuba is very famous because it was the venue of Nagano Winter Olympic. Actually when I was on the train from Shinano-Omachi, most of passengers are overseas tourist, especially from Australia and New Zealand. They came here to enjoy fresh powder from the other side of the world.

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When you travel on Oito line, you must change the train at Minami-Otari. This is border station of JR East and JR West. And also the segment between Minami-Otari and Itoigawa is not electrified.

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Minami-Otari is a small station. There is no restaurant and sightseeing attractions around the station. This is the place where you just need to change the trains. If you take this route, make sure train connection and try to minimize connection time at Minami-Otari.

Minami-Otari station platforms and tracks.
Minami-Otari station platforms and tracks.
Minami-Otari station building.
Minami-Otari station building.

From Minami-Otari, one diesel car train picked up only five passengers. It was very quiet.

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The train ran very slowly because this segment was closed by landslide and avalanche a few times in last decade.

Four of five passengers were on board from Minami-Otari to Itoigawa. One of five passengers got off before train arrived Itoigawa. There was no other passengers between Minami-Otari and Itoigawa.

Local train arrived at Itoigawa station.
Local train arrived at Itoigawa station.

Itoigawa station

North side of Itoigawa station.
North side of Itoigawa station.

Itoigawa station is located a few steps away from the seashore. You can exit the station from north side and go down the street for 5 minutes.

You can go down this street to view the sea shoreline.
You can go down this street to view the sea shoreline.

You can get the shoreline of Sea of Japan. When I was there, I did not go to the shore. It was dark and cold night.

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I went back to Itoigawa station and visit other side of Itoigawa station. This station has some small attraction on south side. That is called “Itoigawa Geostation Geopal”.

The entrance of Geopal
The entrance of Geopal
This place has kids play space too.
This place has kids play space too.

It is a sort of visitor center. But this place attracts train buff. First one is KIHA 52 waiting room.

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KIHA 52 is a vintage diesel fleet. It used to run on Oito line but all of this fleet were retired from all JR lines. This train is used as the waiting room now. You can step in this train and sit down on the vintage seat.

And this place has model train layout.

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If you want, you can pay 500 yen for 30 minutes to drive the model train.

This is a nice place to wait for next train in Itoigawa station.

Itoigawa to Toyama

Itoigawa 18:05 (Hokuriku Shinkansen Hakutaka 569) 18:22

It was a short ride of Hokuriku Shinkansen. But it was very first time to take Hokuriku Shinkansen for me.

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The last time when I visit Toyama was year 2010. At that time, Hokuriku Shinkansen was not opened. So Toyama station was completely different from the last visit. This station is still under construction. But Toyama Chiho Railway’s street car has train stop just under Hokuriku Shikansen platform. In rainy days and snowy days, this is very convenient for commuters and travelers. You can access train stop without umbrella.

Toyama station south exit
Toyama station south exit
Dentetsu Toyama station is located just beside south exit of Toyama station. You can take another train from Dentetsu Toyama to Tateyama.
Dentetsu Toyama station is located just beside south exit of Toyama station. You can take another train from Dentetsu Toyama to Tateyama.

I stopped by Toyama because I wanted to see new look Toyama station. But this is not the biggest reason. The biggest reason was this.

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This is Toyama’s original, “Toyama Black Ramen”. This very black broth seems to have very strong taste but it is not actually. This is fish soy sauce base broth but it was not very salty. Ramen is one of my most favorite food. I could not pass this ramen. I had this ramen at Menya Iroha CiC store (麺家いろは CiC店).

The entrance of Ramen restaurant, Menya Iroha.
The entrance of Ramen restaurant, Menya Iroha.

There are many Toyama ramen restaurants. But if you want to try this ramen near Toyama station, this restaurant is recommended. It is located underground level of shopping complex building “CiC”.

Toyama to Takaoka

Toyama 21:31 (Hokuriku Shinkansen Hakutaka 575) 21:40 Shin-Takaoka 21:59 (Johana line local train) 22:02 Takaoka

After I enjoyed Ramen at Toyama station, I got on Hokuriku Shikansen again and it was less than 10 minutes ride to Shin-Takaoka.

Arrived at Shin-Takaoka
Arrived at Shin-Takaoka

Shin-Takaoka station was open when Hokuriku Shinkansen was open. You can transfer to JR Johana line to Takaoka or Johana. If you go to Gokayama, Suganuma and Shirakawago, you can take Johana line to Johana and transfer to bus. I went down to Johana next day. I will show it in next post.

At Shin-Takaoka station, I changed Johana line train to Takaoka. I had to exit the station building to get Johana line platform. Please see the route in the photos below.

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I got on Johana line train for a few minutes to get Takaoka.

Train was wrapped by anime character.
Train was wrapped by anime character.

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Train arrived at Takaoka. Takaoka is one of major cities in Toyama.

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I stayed in Takaoka because hotel rate is very attractive. And I took Himi line and Johana line on next day. Takaoka is the departure point for both lines and it was perfect place to stay for me.

I stayed in Hotel Crown Hills Takaoka. This hotel is a few steps away from Takaoka station. Hotel rate is 5,054 yen for one single room. This hotel offers free breakfast, big public bath and free night snack. It was very good deal.

Hotel Crown Hills Takaoka
Hotel Crown Hills Takaoka

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Free breakfast buffet
Free breakfast buffet

On next day, I took Himi line and visited Shirakawago and Takayama.

Continue to the post, Trip to Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku in 2016 winter – Part 6, Takaoka to Shirakawago via Himi line, Johana line and Shirakawago.

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