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Photo By: PIXTA/ふくいのりすけ
Region
Chugoku
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Matsue
Population
761,499

Ichibata Electric Railway

Access the region’s most famous sightseeing spots and scenic views of Lake Shinji via this beloved local train.

By Laura Payne

The Ichibata Electric Railway–nicknamed Bataden–has served Shimane Prefecture since 1912. In addition to being a mode of transportation, it is a beloved local treasure.

When the railway was in danger of closing due to declining use in the 1970s, residents and local officials rallied to keep it open. Now, the railway operates trains for commuting and sightseeing while offering unique services.

Anyone who rides this railway today can access some of the region’s most famous sightseeing spots and scenic views of Lake Shinji.

Special trains and services

Ichibata Electric Railway

Photo by: PIXTA/ tahoiya A blast from the past.

Some trains on the Ichibata line feature themed decor, such as retro wooden interiors or statues of Shimanekko (Shimane’s prefectural mascot). Riding these special trains requires no additional costs because they run throughout the day as a regular part of operations. If one rides the Ichibata line multiple times during a trip, an encounter with at least one of these special trains is likely.

Ichibata is also popular with cyclists because bicycles can be brought onto the trains and secured in designated areas for an additional fee. Many cyclists will ride their bikes one way along the north side of Lake Shinji before taking an Ichibata train back to their starting point.

One of the most popular attractions of Ichibata is a train driving experience offered at Unshu-Hirata station. After receiving instruction on how to operate a Dehani Type 50, one of Japan’s oldest running trains, participants can drive this model themselves on a track inside the station’s train yard. This experience is open to both adults and children.

Route highlights

Ichibata Electric Railway - Awazu Inari Shrine

Photo by: PIXTA/ RyujiKanda Many more sights exist along the line, like Awazu-Inari-Shrine

Well-known attractions such as Izumo Taisha Shrine and Matsue Castle are accessible via Ichibata trains, but many more sights exist along the line.

At Matsue Shinjiko-Onsen station, visitors can relax in a free hot spring foot bath. If one alights at Unshu-Hirata station, a short walk is all it takes to reach Momen Kaido–a historic shopping street famed for soy sauce and sake (rice wine) breweries. Meanwhile, photographers often walk from Takahama station to Awazu Inari Shrine because if one is patient, it is possible to capture an image of a train passing by the shrine’s red torii gates.

Riding the eastern half of the line is also a sightseeing activity in and of itself because while viewing Lake Shinji from the train, fishermen, wildlife, sunsets and other sights are visible on the vast water.

Things To Know

Fees

Ichibata is a privately-owned railway and does not accept JR Rail passes. However, local one-day or three-day passes are available at major stations. Details about these passes and timetables and route maps can be found on Ichibata’s official website.

It costs about ¥320 to bring a bicycle on an Ichibata train. This fee is paid separately from the regular train ticket. Note that during rush hour or on holidays when the trains are crowded, passengers may not be allowed to bring bicycles.

More information about rental bikes and cycling routes can be found on the Shimane Cycling Navi website.

Unshu-Hirata station’s train driving experience is typically held on weekends and national holidays. Reservations can be made online at this website.

Japanese proficiency is preferred since instructions are currently only available in Japanese. The experience costs about ¥12,000 for adults and ¥8,000 for children.

Some Ichibata stations are unmanned. If you board a train from one of these stations, please take a numbered ticket from the machine by the train’s entrance. When you exit the train, please refer to the display screen to calculate your fare. This can be paid to an attendant or a machine at the front of the train. Fare machines do not accept ¥5,000 or ¥10,000 bills.

How To Get There

Address

By train

Matsue Shinjiko-Onsen station (the easternmost Ichibata stop) is accessible via a city bus from Matsue’s JR station. This station is also accessible on foot from Matsue Castle.

Dentetsu Izumo station (one of the westernmost Ichibata stops) is located next to Izumo’s JR station, while Izumo Taisha-Mae station (the other westernmost stop) is within walking distance of Izumo Taisha Shrine.

Where To Stay

Matsue Shinjiko Onsen Hotel Ichibata
  • 30 Chidoricho, Matsue-shi, Shimane, 690-0852 Japan
  • ¥11,880 - ¥58,300
  • 4.33/5 (2,405 reviews)
  • 0.2 km
Matsueshinjiko Onsen Matsue New Urban Hotel
  • 40-1 Nishichamachi, Matsue-shi, Shimane, 690-0845 Japan
  • ¥6,500 - ¥35,000
  • 4.17/5 (3,543 reviews)
  • 0.4 km
Matsueshinjiko Onsen Ohashikan
  • 40 Suetsuguhommachi, Matsue-shi, Shimane, 690-0843 Japan
  • ¥11,550 - ¥43,320
  • 4.17/5 (443 reviews)
  • 0.8 km
Hotel Route-Inn Matsue
  • 2-22 Higashihommachi, Matsue-shi, Shimane, 690-0842 Japan
  • ¥9,500 - ¥11,500
  • 4.29/5 (1,201 reviews)
  • 1.0 km
Onyado Nono Matsue
  • 2-35 Higashihommachi, Matsue-shi, Shimane, 690-0842 Japan
  • ¥19,098 - ¥58,058
  • 4.63/5 (542 reviews)
  • 1.0 km

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