Thursday, April 30, 2015

Scenic Gorge on the Oofunato Line

Diesel rail cars, JR East 100 seires, passes through Satetsu River near Geibikei Station

It is mid-spring in Japan. Before the best tourist season this year, I am going to look back a bit on my trip last year.

Last summer, I visited a famous valley, Geibikei, with my family. It was located in the precipitous mountains in Iwate Prefecture. Geibikei is a steep-sided gorge along the Satetsu River. It was designated as a place of scenic beauty by the government in 1923. The height of the limestone cliffs exceed 50 meters. We enjoyed a boat tour to see the fog-shrouded gorge. It was cool there even in summer... and it was also an extremely quiet location.

To visit this scenic gorge, we took the JR East Oofunato Line and got off at Geibikei Station. The Oofunato Line is a local route connecting Ichinoseki on the Tohoku Main line and Sakari stations. The total operating length is 105.7 km. The whole route is single and non-electrified. Currently, the section between Kesennuma and Sakari stations (43.7 km) is interrupted due to the earthquake and giant tsunami in 2011. So, passengers have to take BRT (bus rapid transit), which are provided by JR East.

A diesel rail car, the JR East KiHa 100 series, is a main fleet on the Kesennuma Line. Two-car or three-car trains are operated on the line every two hours on average. I saw a two-car train passing through over railway bridge near Geibikei station just before sunset. I will never forget the memory of this fantastic rail scene as my 2014 summer trip.

 
Boat tour is held near Geibikei Station on the JR East Oofunato Line