The Sangi Railway Hokusei Line which runs 20km within Mie Prefecture from Nishi Kuwana Station in Kuwana to Ageki Station in Inabe is a Japanese trainspotters' delight.
The Hokusei Line is a 762mm narrow gauge railway that gives the carriages a "toy-train" feel.
Like the Yoro Line to Ogaki that also has a terminus at Kuwana, the Hokusei Line was previously owned by Kintetsu Railways until 2003.
The service between Nishi Kuwana and Ageki is a local one that stops at every station and is driver only with no conductor. There are two trains an hour increasing to three at peak times.
The complete list of stations on the Hokusei Line is: Nishi Kuwana (西桑名), Umamichi (馬道), Nishi Bessho (西別所), Rengeji (蓮花寺), Ariyoshi (在良), Hoshikawa (星川), Nanawa (七和), Ano (穴太), Toin (東員), Oizumi (大泉), Sohara (楚原), Oda (麻生田) and Ageki (阿下喜).
There are only four 762mm narrow gauge railways in Japan and the Hokusei Line is the longest. The others are the Kintetsu Utsube Line and Kintetsu Hachioji Line (both in Mie Prefecture near Yokkaichi) and the Kurobe Gorge Railway in Toyama Prefecture.
Places of interest near to Hokusei Line stations include Hashiri Izun Temple near Umamichi Station, the first stop from Nishi Kuwana, about 1km away.
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