Kameoka Sagano Scenic Romance Train

Your ticket to bucolic bliss starts here

By Bonson Lam    - 4 min read

Many visitors to Arashiyama would stop at the Togetsu-kyo Bridge, and looking into the distant forested mountains, would wonder what lies beyond the other side. Now you can take a scenic sightseeing train, known also as “Torokko” in Japanese, to the resort town of Kameoka.

In late March and November, this is a particularly popular ride, as you can see the cherry blossoms and autumn foliage. Many passengers also take the train up and return by the boat down the rapids, also known as the Hozugawa Kudari. It is amazing to reflect that they used to send logs down this river a long time back, which is a real feat of navigation.

As you wind your way through some of the longest tunnels in Kyoto, spare a thought for the engineers and builders who hacked their way through steep mountain forests, in building the train line from the former imperial capital of Kyoto to the Port city of Maizuru in the 22nd year of the Meiji Period (1889). Some of the original French bricks used can still be seen from the train.

To prepare you for the 30 minute trip, the Kyoto terminus of the train in Saga Arashiyama station has several model train displays as well as a plethora of train souvenirs, such as a DVD of the train ride, or coins with train emblems on them. This, along with Kyoto station, is a trainspotter’s paradise.

In other times of the year, you can also enjoy wisteria blooms and vivid green bamboo groves, and the view is particularly dramatic as the train line hugs the cliff face above the river gorge.

For children, there is a costumed character which you can take photos with, or there are also professional photographers who would take capture your beautiful memory for a fee.

You can also alight halfway at Hozukyo Station and stroll around the national park like surroundings. The train stops for a few minutes, so either stroll quickly or ask the attendant beforehand if you can get on the next train an hour later.

Tickets for this train is sold daily on a first come, first served basis. You can change your ticket before departure, though for refunds, there is a refund fee is 210 yen. Don’t miss the train, as you cannot refund your ticket. You can also make a reservation up to one month in advance in the "Green Window" booking counter of all major JR West railway stations, like Nijo, Kyoto, Uji, Nara, Shin Osaka, Osaka, Sannomiya, Kobe, Tennoji, Himeji, and Kansai Airport, as well as most major travel agencies throughout Japan. If you have booking group tickets for groups of 15 or more, you can do so between two weeks and one year before the departure date.

My inside tips for enjoying the Torokko

• Take the train on a weekday if possible during peak travelling times, such as long weekends, autumn foliage viewing seasons (late November and early December).

• Alternatively, if you are not intending to take the river cruise downstream from Kameoka, take the standard JR train up to Kameoka, and then take the Torokko train down. You will save time and money.

• Be sure to book the Torokko ticket as soon as you / your party can agree to the time. Otherwise you may be stuck waiting for the last Torokko train, which could mean you riding in the cold night air, with not many opportunities for sightseeing.

If you're interested in a boat tour, please visit this page : http://www.veltra.com/en/asia/japan/kyoto/a/103457?sid=1091

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Bonson Lam

Bonson Lam @bonson.lam

I knew my future was destined to be with Japan the moment I flew from Sydney to experience the atmospheric lane ways of Kyoto last century. From the skies above Sapporo to the old charm of Naha's alleyways, I have been enchanted by the beauty and variety on every island. I am humbled to have met many distinguished people in my role as Regional Partner, especially the national living treasures of Japan, such as the doll maker to the Imperial Family. From sushi cooking classes to Ninja training grounds I welcome your ideas on what you like from JapanTravel.com. Please visit us in Kyoto or Osaka and have some green tea or sake with us. 

Join the discussion

Victoria Vlisides 2 years ago
Would love to visit here!
Jihad Mahmoud 2 years ago
I would love to try this. But how much is the ticket?
Bonson Lam Author 2 years ago
From Arashiyama to Kameoka, the one way fare is 620 yen for adults and 310 yen for children. It operates from March to December, except on Wednesdays. If Wednesday falls on a public holiday, then it would operate on Wednesday but not on a Thursday. You should really try it!