ALL ABOARD THE SAGANO ROMANTIC TRAIN…solo! Every vacation needs a little romance. I wasn’t about to continue on my solo adventure without one awkward outing where everyone else is holding hands while watching the stunning Japanese maples whizz by.
The tickets to the Sagano Train can sell out quickly during the autumn months; Arashiyama is located higher in the mountains and the first in the Kyoto area to see the changing of colors. I wanted to guarantee a spot on the “open air” car so I arrived at the station around 7 am. This car is located in the front and has seating with no windows; much better for photos. I was third in line and shortly after my arrival, visitors started winding their way in the rope line for their tickets. The ticket window opened at 8:45 for the first boarding time, 9:00. I paid ¥1240 round trip, which is just under an hour ride. If you prefer, there is a river rafting alternative for the way back. Not my style and given the chilling rain, I felt gutsy enough with the open air seating.
The train begins at Saga Torokko Station, makes a total of 3 stops before switching directions at Kameoka Torokko Station. This route leads you through the bamboo forest, a nature preserve, some tunnels and alongside the beautiful Hozu River. Knowing their audience the Sagano Train will slow down at various points so you can enjoy the scenery and snap some pictures. On the train, you will find professional photographers dressed in conductors clothing and a man wearing a mask for photo ops and entertainment. The Sagano train is really a great way to enjoy the foliage and start off a long sightseeing day in Arashiyama.
The Sagano train is available almost year round. The more popular seasons are fall (foliage) and Spring (Cherry Blossoms). Though, I bet if you could catch a ride during the winter snow it would be breathtaking.
The Saga Torokko Station is located about a 15-minute walk from Arashiyama Sation. You can take the JR San-in line directly there.
Cost: ¥600 one way.
Dates: Closed Wednesdays. Also December 29th through February.