Tokyobling's Blog

The Japanese Landscape through a Train Window

Posted in Places by tokyobling on January 31, 2013

One of the often overlooked but essentially Japanese experiences is the slow train journey through the Japanese countryside in summer. One of the reasons I get to travel around so much in Japan is that I don’t mind spending hours and hours on the train, just staring out the window. A year and a half ago I took these photos while traveling through northern Gunma prefecture, between Minakami and Takasaki. It is difficult to get good photos through a moving train window but I still had to share these with you. The landscape in these photos are absolutely typical of the countryside, with the buildings, the bamboo forests, the distant mountains, village stations and much more. Just looking at these photos makes my heart ache for the next train journey through the summer Japan I love so much! Oh, and can you spot the real life house of Satsuki and Mei from the animated movie “My Neighbor Totoro” (となりのトトロ) in the sixth photo? Doesn’t it look just like in the movie? I could live here, just a couple of hundred meters past the Gokan station in Minakami-cho. Don’t miss the slow train when you visit Japan next!













17 Responses

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  1. TonyJ2 said, on January 31, 2013 at 11:09 am

    I love it! This was the conversation in my house this evening as my 22yo son said to me that I spent too much time looking out train windows, and don’t meet people!
    Bah humbug.
    I have this same line (Minakami to Takasaki) on my plan for my next trip in June.
    I intend to spend a couple of nights in the Minakami area – coming from Niigata before flying out from Narita.
    Any recommendations?


    • tokyobling said, on February 1, 2013 at 4:04 pm

      Ah, youngster! When he reacher enough maturity he will surely come around to our view, our correct view, on life and the importance of looking through train windows! What other way is there to make travel time into an experience and not a chore? (^-^) Apart from visiting the onsen in Minakami town, there is also the annual festival held in August (I don’t know the exact date for this year’s festival, but probably mid-August). Apart from that Gunma is not one of the prefectures I spend a whole lot of time in, but feel free to check this blog for any Gunma related posts by clicking here. One place that I liked, and that are happy to get foreign visitors is the old silk thread factory in Tomioka City. I still haven’t blogged about that visit… too much stuff to blog! (^-^;)


  2. pk1154 said, on January 31, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    E gave me The Art of Totoro as a gift. The book is full of lovely water-color paintings used in creating the movie. (It’s in Japanese; I can’t read it, but the art is lovely.) It includes many paintings of the house and a floor plan!

    (My cell phone charms now include a lamp-worked glass bead I bought in Maine, a “nerd” version of Domo-kun and Totoro holding a leaf.)


    • tokyobling said, on February 1, 2013 at 4:06 pm

      I know that book, it is great! I recently found a plastic model kit of the house itself, I kept thinking about how beautiful the house is, and when I saw this photo while editing this post I thought it looked very similar!

      Three cell phone charms? You have come a long way Cricket! But you’ll need 10 times as much to impress the average Japanese teen girl! (^-^)


      • pk1154 said, on February 4, 2013 at 2:11 pm

        Still, that’s three more than the average American of any age!


  3. Amy said, on January 31, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    Enjoy the train view. I think Japanese landscape is just beautiful.


    • tokyobling said, on February 1, 2013 at 4:07 pm

      Me too! Especially in the summer! The most gorgeous landscape I have seen in Japan is still on my waiting list to be blogged about… (^-^)


  4. C said, on February 1, 2013 at 3:23 am

    This reminds me of the time I had to go to Ljubljana for a work gig. Cost too much to fly direct (in my mind), so I went to Munich and took a 6-hour train ride for €29. Utterly breathtaking, gently winding through the Austrian Alps.

    Yes, it’s hard to take pictures from the train, but oh-so-worth-it!

    I should take a train ride like this sometime soon. The views remind me a bit of many areas of California. I’m guessing the price is pretty reasonable too?


    • tokyobling said, on February 1, 2013 at 4:07 pm

      I love the alp trains! Sounds like a great trip! Unfortunately Japanese trains are much more expensive than that… (^-^;)


      • C said, on February 2, 2013 at 3:29 pm

        They’re probably closer to US train prices then (which can be really cheap, but given the long distances, if you want a bunk bed, then the price really goes up). Sometimes I wish flying weren’t so cheap over here.

        I really need to see Totoro. Some high school students gave a presentation on the movie and that’s how I learned about it 🙂 They compared Japan of that time to today and concluded that we need to spend more time in nature and be there for each other. I liked that!


        • tokyobling said, on February 3, 2013 at 6:06 am

          Sleepers are expensive over here too, but someday I’d love to try one! I need more friends in the countryside so that I can have an excuse to get out of the city more often!


  5. Timi said, on February 1, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    Reminds me how much I miss summer and spring 😦 I wish I could at least go outside to study or something.
    Also I think if I would live there, I would randomly go around on trains, it’s so beautiful…


    • tokyobling said, on February 1, 2013 at 11:43 pm

      Japan is a big country, if you went randomly on trains you could be traveling for weeks! But it would be an interesting way to spend a summer!


      • Timi said, on February 3, 2013 at 4:04 pm

        If I could afford that that would be a number one way to spend a summer! 😀


  6. bs365 said, on February 4, 2013 at 11:45 am

    Love this post! All your posts make me miss Japan (only been there once so far, in December 2011), but this one especially. I took slow trains from Osaka to Hakone – had to hop on a Shinkansen for part of it cause it would have taken too long – and it was one of my highlights of the trip. I’m looking forward to more slow train rides when I make it to Japan again. 🙂 Thanks for the post!


    • tokyobling said, on February 4, 2013 at 5:29 pm

      Thank you for the kind and interesting comment! That is one cool slow train ride! I would love to do something like that someday. I hope you come back and visit soon! (^-^)/


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