I've heard that along the JR Senmohon Line, in the Okhotsk area, on the section that runs along the coast, there are several unique stations. So I decided to go take a look. I found some interesting things, including an old unmanned station building, and a ghost-station that was only in operation for half a year.
▲ I checked the station guide against my map and found the section of track along the coast, running from Abashiri Station to Shiretokoshari Station. The route ran side-by-side the Shari Highway. This was my spot.
My first stop was "Mokoto Station" in Abashiri City. If you've ever seen the film "Abashiri Bangaichi" this may look familiar. The old wooden station building gave me a cozy feeling of nostalgia. The old station office has now become a railcar cafe, serving light meals and drinks. Even now that the station is closed, there are still many visitors.
Next I stopped at "Kitahama Station" also located in Abashiri City. Kitahama holds the title of "closest station to the sea," and it's absolutely true. The sound of waves can be heard from trains waiting at the platform, and during winter the ice floe is clearly visible. The white waves of the ocean waves coming up behind the old station house provide the perfect scenery for weary travelers.
Next to the station building is a viewing platform from which you can look out across the extending coastline, or turn and admire the Shiretoko mountain range.
The last station, "Genseikaen Station" is only open from May to October every year. As soon as you get off the train you see the beautiful flower garden from which the station gets its name. The garden is a small fresh-water, free-growing flower garden. The off-season makes this building a ghost station. The garden is growing in an elongated sand dune area, sandwiched between Tofutsuko and the Okhotsk Sea. The flowers peak between June and August, although the walking paths provide a wonderful atmosphere at almost any time of the year.
Every station provides its own unique atmosphere for visitors. If you ever find yourself on the Senmohon line, be sure to visit these stations!
(Hokkaido Likers Photo Writer - Fukko)
(Photographs are coutesy of Fukko and Isao Kawamura.)