Hidden in the quiet suburban town of Nagareyama, lies a little train line that has only 6 stations, and spans about 5.7 km (or 3.54 miles if you’re American!). It is known as the Ryutetsu Nagareyama Train Line, and it carries passengers everyday between Nagareyama and the neighboring city of Matsudo. Contrary to its considerably short length however, (taking approximately about 11 minutes to ride it in its entirety,) it has a long and rich history, that has captured the hearts of the local population.
Starting as a cargo train line in 1916, it was originally built to more efficiently transport freight cars. In 1933 however, it rebranded itself as a passenger train line, and after a little over 100 years, it still carries passengers to this day. Everyday it clatters along the tracks through the quaint suburban landscapes of Nagareyama, making any passenger feel a hint of nostalgia as they look out the windows.
What makes the Ryutetsu unique to any other train line is how it has stayed true to its roots. When you step into the station, you are guaranteed a one-of-a-kind experience. That’s because it is one of the last few train lines that still only accepts cash (that means no Pasmo or Suica cards!). What’s more mind blowing is that there are no computerized ticket gates. You just buy your ticket and walk right onto the train! It is very trust-based, which is a quality that is very hard to come by in these modern times. When you get off, you simply place your used ticket into a little basket the station staff has set out, and you can be off on your next adventure!
There are currently five different trains that actively run on the tracks of the Ryutetsu. They each have a unique name, and can be easily distinguished by their brightly colored exteriors. They are named as follows: Akagi (red), Nanohana (yellow), Sakura (pink), Ryusei (orange), and Wakaba (green). Though they are all small, two-car trains, manned by only one train conductor, these trains act as the main artery that connects the city of Nagareyama to Matsudo, which from there leads to Tokyo, and to the rest of Japan. If you ever find yourself in Nagareyama, try to spot each train making its way down the train tracks!
With the retro, Showa-Era Japan vibes coming back into style, the Ryutetsu Train Line is the perfect way to slip back in time, capturing the essence of the everyday Japanese lifestyle of back in the day, with its vintage train cars. You can make a day of it by buying a one-day pass that allows you to ride the Ryutetsu all day long, for only ￥500 yen (￥250 for children). You can make a stop at each of the 6 stations: Mabashi, Koya, Koganejoushi, Hiregasaki, Heiwadai, and of course Nagareyama. Spend the day exploring the serene, historic townscapes of Nagareyama that helped foster the quaint charm of the Ryutetsu Train Line, or simply enjoy it from the comfort of the train windows!