The JR Tadami Line 只見線 is a local train service connecting Aizu-Wakamatsu city in the Fukushima prefecture and Uonuma city in the Niigata prefecture. The railway line travels across the mountainous Oku-Aizu 奥会津 region in the western part of Fukushima, known for beautiful snow-covered landscapes and stunning foliage in the autumn. The small towns and cities along the line exude the unpretentious charm of rural Japan and are well worth a visit to understand the local culture as well as meeting the friendly locals.
Many passengers who go on sightseeing trips on the Tadami Line start their journey from Aizu-Wakamatsu, which is the gateway to the Oku-Aizu region. In this article, I’ll share some information about accessing the Tadami Line as well as the attractions in Aizu-Wakamatsu.
How to Access the JR Tadami Line from Tokyo
Tohoku Shinkansen at Tokyo Station.
Take the JR Tohoku Shinkansen 東北新幹線 from Tokyo Station to Koriyama Station 郡山駅. At Koriyama, transfer to the JR Banetsu West Line 磐越西線 and travel to Aizu-Wakamatsu Station 会津若松駅 and start taking Tadami Line from there.
For the international visitors holding non-Japanese passports, the JR East Tohoku Area Pass can be a bargain. It is a flexible pass which allows unlimited travel on JR trains in the Kanto and Tohoku regions on any 5 days within a 14-day period. Currently, the pass costs ￥20,000 if purchased in Japan, or ￥19,000 if purchased outside Japan.
If you wish to take the Tadami Line from Tokyo, the pass covers the trips mentioned above as well as the journey between Aizu-Wakamatsu Station and Tadami Station. Also covered are the bus rides to get to the affected stations where the train service is out, as mentioned in Part 1 of the article.
With the pass, you can get on and off at any stations to visit the places of interest along the way. It is also convenient as you don’t have to purchase individual tickets at the stations (just present your pass to the staff). But do note that trains on the Tadami Line are infrequent so be sure to time and plan well.
More info: https://www.jreast.co.jp/e/eastpass_t/
About Aizu-Wakamatsu 会津若松
Aizu-Wakamatsu is the main city in the Aizu region of Fukushima. During the Edo period, it was the castle town to the Aizu Domain. The top attractions in Aizu-Wakamatsu often reflect the city’s long samurai tradition and its important place in Japanese history. Aizu-Wakamatsu was the centre stage for one of the fiercest battles of the Boshin War, the decisive war fought between 1868 and 1869 that determined the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate and the restoration of imperial rule.
Tsuruga Castle 鶴ヶ城
Also known as Wakamatsu Castle, Tsuruga castle is the most well-known castle in Fukushima. The castle on the present site, however, is a replica of the original castle dated as far back as 1384. The castle was besieged and damaged by artillery during the Boshin War and was eventually demolished after the war.
The reconstructed castle houses a museum where visitors can learn about the history and culture of Aizu. The top floor, on the other hand, commands panoramic views of the city and the surrounding area. The castle grounds, surrounded by moat and stone walls, are one of the best spots for cherry blossom viewing in the spring, with about 1,000 cherry blossom trees planted around the grounds. When you’re here for hanami, make sure you don’t just come for the day but also at night when the trees are beautifully illuminated.
Opening Hours: 8:30 AM – 5 PM
Access: From Aizu-Wakamatsu Station, take the sightseeing loop bus “Haikara-san” or “Akabe” to the Tsurugajo Kitaguchi 鶴ヶ城北口 bus stop, walk for 5 minutes.