Defunct railway reborn as tourist attraction
the-japan-news.com -- Feb 23
The tracks of the now-defunct Takachiho Railway in Miyazaki Prefecture - discontinued due to damage caused by Typhoon No. 14 in 2005 - have been revived as a popular tourist attraction that carried 26,000 passengers in fiscal 2015.

Takachiho Amaterasu Rail Park Inc., the new operator of the line, runs a seven-meter-long "super-kart" it converted from a mini-truck on the old tracks. The service had to be temporarily suspended due to the series of earthquakes that hit neighboring Kumamoto Prefecture in April last year, but it subsequently reopened and has been attracting passengers since the summer.

The company plans to introduce a new type of train car in March in an effort to bring in even more tourists.

Takachiho Railway began operating in 1989 as a so-called third-sector company, a business entity jointly capitalized by the public and private sectors, to take over the Takachiho Line, once operated by the now-defunct Japan National Railways.

Takachiho Railway, however, found it difficult to attract passengers due to a declining population along the line and improved road conditions. The damage caused by the 2005 typhoon eventually forced the company to abandon the route's operation.

Nevertheless, residents in the town of Takachiho established a company the following year in the hopes of reviving the local line. When Takachiho Railway officially decided to completely discontinue operations in 2008, the new company took over, overhauling management and giving the firm its current name: Takachiho Amaterasu Rail Park. Its goals were to preserve the railway and transform it into a park.

Since then, the new firm has been seeking to establish its railway as a tourist attraction. Its first effort was to install a manually operated wooden trolley to take passengers along the scenic route.

The sightseeing service initially attracted only about 100 passengers a year, as its availability was limited to periods such as the Golden Week holidays.

However, the service eventually became popular, thanks to its providing passengers the chance to enjoy panoramic views of superb natural beauty from the old tracks and feel inspired by the subtle joy of travel. The firm turned a profit in 2013, with the number of passengers exceeding 10,000.

News source: the-japan-news.com
Dec 17
A ski resort opened in western Japan's Hyogo Prefecture on Saturday, with its operator and the local government saying it is the country's first new facility to be opened to skiers and snowboarders in 14 years. (Japan Today)
Dec 07
Narita International Airport near Tokyo is looking to ease congestion at one of its terminals. (NHK)
Dec 03
Inui Street in the Imperial Palace in central Tokyo was opened to the public on Saturday, in time for the autumn foliage season. (Jiji)
Dec 01
Local restaurants, souvenir shops and even some temples and shrines are hoping to cater to foreign guests with an international custom yet to be adopted in Japan: letting customers pay their bills with credit cards instead of cash. (Japan Today)
Nov 29
The latest edition of the Michelin guide for Tokyo is due out on Friday with 82 new restaurants, including five new two-star establishments and 23 entities garnering single stars, Michelin said on Tuesday. (Japan Times)
Nov 28
From a television commercial that gives a humorous twist to a theme park’s impending closure to hotels staffed by robots, tactics to capitalize on company outings, and ads featuring Japanese pop idols and actors — theme parks in Japan are squeezing their creative juices to attract more first-time visitors and repeaters through avant-garde ways. (Japan Times)
Nov 27
A new Tokyo Bay amphibious bus tour was launched Monday to service the expected influx of foreign tourists drawn to the city ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. (Kyodo)
Nov 26
Railway fans have gathered in western Japan to see a steam locomotive get chugging again for the first time in 44 years. (NHK)
Nov 25
Japan appeals to different people for different reasons. Some visit for the history or the food. Many stay for the martial arts, while others keep coming back for a dose of manga, anime and video-game culture. Still others come to enjoy the land — the huge span of scenery from the north of Hokkaido to Okinawa in the southwest, and the sharp changes such places undergo with the revolutions of season. (Japan Times)
Nov 19
The Phoenix Hall of Byodoin temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Uji, Kyoto Prefecture, glows at night during a trial illumination on Friday. (the-japan-news.com)