Here at Hyogo: The Heart of Japan we like to feature areas of Hyogo that are little-known but unique. Amarube Bridge in Kami-cho is one such spot.
The original bridge was a red steel structure that was completed in 1912 and was in service for almost one hundred years before being replaced by a concrete bridge.
It was the largest trestle railway bridge in all of Japan, and its picturesque red color made it a draw for railway enthusiasts and photographers.
The bridge also has a sad history: in 1986, an out-of-service train was blown off the bridge by strong winds and fell to the ground below, killing six. Following the accident, rules on canceling train service during strong wind were implemented.
The construction of a modern concrete bridge to replace the steel structure finally began in 2007, and is complete as of 2010. The new bridge is faster and safer, but some are sad to see the picturesque old bridge go. A few of the old steel supports will be left in place as a monument.
Let’s go ahead and take a tour.
Congratulations, you’ve arrived at Amarube Station! There goes your train. The next one isn’t coming for more than an hour, so you have an ideal opportunity to explore.
Hiking up the short distance to a mountain viewpoint behind the station gives you this view of the bridge, town, and Sea of Japan.
Going down a little further, you have a chance to view the bridge in cross-section.
Here, you can clearly see the remains of the old bridge and the new bridge side-by-side.
The trail leads you down to the valley level, where you get a chance to view the bridge from below.
The brand-new concrete bridge is surrounded by the old-fashioned homes and shops of the town of Amarube.
In this next photo, can you tell that the bridge has a subtle S-shaped curve? The bridge was built this way in order that construction could proceed while train service continued on the old bridge. The new bridge was built while the old bridge was still in use, and then at the very last moment the old bridge was moved aside and the new bridge was ever-so-carefully rotated into place. You can watch a video of how they accomplished this at the “Michi-no-Eki” roadside station. It’s definitely worth taking a look at.
Finally, this is a statue of Kannon (Guan Yin) memorializing those who lost their lives in the 1986 accident.
Bonus: two classic views of the San’in coastline as viewed from the train. I love this part of Japan. It has a kind of austere beauty to it.
How To Get There
Amarube Bridge is located at Amarube Station on the San’in Line that runs between Kinosaki Onsen and Tottori. This is an easy side trip from Kasumi, Hamasaka, or other locations on the northern coast of Hyogo.