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Monday, March 10, 2008

Nagahama Railroad Square


There is much to do on a fine day in Nagahama, on the eastern shores of Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture. There are good views of Japan's largest lake from the restored Nagahama Castle, shopping at the flea markets and crafts stores in the Kurokabe Square area and for train buffs, Nagahama Railroad Square is Japan's oldest preserved railway station.

Nagahama Railroad Square, Nagahama, Shiga

Built in 1882, the old Nagahama Station, just a short walk from the new station, has been transformed into an interesting museum. The original brick Meiji-era station building stands intact and new buildings in the same style have been built housing old trains, including a D51 steam train and an early ED70 diesel locomotive. There are also rooms with model trains for the kids and exhibits of historic railway artefacts including the original station clock imported from the US, uniforms, lanterns and photographs.

ED70 diesel locomotive, Nagahama Railroad Square

Nagahama was on the old Tsuruga Line (now Hokuriku Line) that linked Tsuruga, an hisoric port on the Japan Sea coast in Fukui Prefecture to Kobe on the Pacific Ocean. Goods shipped from Tsuruga (which had sea links with Korea, Hokkaido and the other Japan Sea ports such as Niigata) were loaded on to boats at Nagahama for trans-shipment to Otsu at the southern end of Lake Biwa and then back on to trains for the journey to Kobe via Kyoto. The newly opened Tsugura-Kobe route effectively linked the Japan Sea and the Pacific and greatly enhanced Japan's economic development in the later part of the nineteenth century.

Nagahama Railroad Square
Kitabune-cho 1-41
Tel: 0749 63 4091
Hours: 9.30am-5.00pm (last entry 4.30pm)
Admission: Adults 300 yen

Nagahama Railroad Square is a short walk from JR Nagahama Station on the JR Biwako Line (Hokuriku Line). Nagahama is about 60 minutes from Kyoto (shinkaisoku) or 90 minutes from Nagoya by JR train via Maibara. Alternatively take a Hikari shinkansen train from either Nagoya, Kyoto or Osaka to Maibara and change for the shinkaisoku for Nagahama.

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