Hiking in Hyogo: abandoned railway line, Fukuchiyama

This is an awesome hiking course along the now-abandoned tracks of the JR Fukuchiyama Line in Takarazuka and Nishinomiya, Hyogo.

This section of former Japan Rail track between Namaze and Takedao stations was closed approximately 25 years ago when the line was converted to electric rail and a new track was constructed in a more convenient location. The train had been in service since 1899.

You can view a video of the old train in operation on YouTube: Former Fukuchiyama Line.

The tracks have been abandoned ever since. Numerous signs warn hikers not to enter, but I met many fellow travelers (including many elderly ones) and didn’t see anything that looked remotely unsafe during my walk. Near the end of the trail I met a citizens’ group lobbying to turn the abandoned rail line into an official hiking path.

The trek took us about two and a half hours (with numerous stops for photos) and was almost completely flat, making it suitable even for beginning hikers like us. There is a bit of rough and rocky terrain, so make sure to wear proper shoes when you go.

And don’t leave home without this other essential tool: a good flashlight. The path will take you through a total of six train tunnels of varying lengths, and all of them are unlit. Completely black. You will not be able to see an entrance or an exit. There’s nothing dangerous in the tunnels, but I would not advise going in without a light.

Out in the regular daylight world, the scenery is lovely. It follows the forested Mukogawa river valley, and the train trip used to be a scenic standby for railway lovers back when the route was still running.

The entrance to the trail is a little hidden, so be sure to follow our guide:

Start out at JR Namaze Station. Head north from the station and you will see a wide river and a bridge.

Do not cross the bridge. Instead, turn left on the main road, route 176.

You will follow route 176 for a good 20 minutes as it curves around the Mukogawa River. It’s fairly busy, so be sure to watch out for cars.

You are looking for a small road that branches off to the right:

Can you see it?

Here it is.

Once you’ve reached this far, you’re home free. There’s only one path to follow until you reach JR Takedao station and the building surrounding it.

The green arrow on the following map shows the entrance to the trail. You can see Namaze Station in the lower right:

When you reach Takedao on the other end, it’s worth a stop at Takedao Hot Springs, which has a free foot bath for hikers!

8 thoughts on “Hiking in Hyogo: abandoned railway line, Fukuchiyama

  1. Excellent walk – thanks a million for the great directions. Enjoy a beer at the end of the hike at the little restaurant overlooking the river. Delightful!

  2. Just finished the walk in the pouring rain….and it was STILL awesome..I hope they never decide to build that dam….but with Japan needing power, and not wanting to go nuclear, I have to wonder.

  3. It is actually easier to approach this hike from the Takedao side- just make sure that you take a local train from the closest major station- easy enough to switch trains. From the Takedao station, you will have no trouble finding it- leave the station, turn left and follow the road. There are signs pointing out the way to the trail. when the road curves away and there is a wooden sign in kanji with two arrows, one pointing away and one pointing up some concrete stairs, take the concrete stairs. You found the path. It’s easier to find Namaze station from this direction too.
    Wish I had heard about the tunnels before going, fortunately my cellphone was almost as bright as a flashlight

  4. Thanx for the write up…if your really adventurous…we hit “8” tunnels, and was glad that I brought a flashlight, it was raining ling crazy. the first tunnel we hit was full of trash (gomie)…the last takes you right by the train station at Takedao.

  5. Thank you for the great directions! Beautiful and easy hike! So happy to finish up at Takedao and enjoy a little onsen at the end.

  6. What a wonderful walk this was. Pure beauty all the way through. The only down side was no benches or seats along the way. We had a couple of elderly people with us who appreciated a sit every now and then. We grabbed some old sleepers and put on rocks for them to sit on. A wonderful place to meditate and the photo opportunities were amazing. I doubt if I will ever get back to Japan but this is one memory that will never fade.

  7. A warning for those looking to hike here- part of the trail is now wiped out. A landslide has covered it, with about two tunnels away from the Takedao end. A huge pile of rubble, bigger than a bus, covers the whole trail in that section. Someone has marked a trail through the slide with yellow tape, but it doesn’t feel safe, especially with downed power lines. All along the trail as well are smaller landslides, small piles of rock next to the trail, or large ones caught in the safety fence. The other side of the river is now inaccessible by road, as there is a slide at the end of the bridge and one side of the river bank under the road has collapsed and washed into the river, leaving the many road layers exposed. If you drive on it, it probably will collapse. Someone has also spoiled several of the tunnels with graffiti.

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