photos by Kan Emori courtesy Sankei News

The Tadami Line is a local railway in Japan that connects Aizu-Wakamatsu Station (Fukushima) with Koide Station (Uonuma, Niigata). Originally opening in the late 1920s, the line was gradually extended over time and now stretches a distance of 135 km (83 mi).

The first train departs Aizu-Wakamatsu Station around 6AM and during the summer months it’s not uncommon for dense fog to rise up over the rivers, creating a series of dreamy landscapes. The phenomenon is the result of melting snow in the high-altitude Oze Marshlands that pours into the rivers and mixes with the warm summer air.

Some of Japan’s most secluded nature and villages can be seen from the locomotive. The red tin roofs on the homes glisten as the sun begins to burn away the fog. To get to Aizu-Wakamatsu Station, take the Tohoku Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Koriyama Station (about 3 hours) and change to the local Ban’etsu West Line. There are only a few trains that run on the Tadami Line each day so plan accordingly.

Note that the section between Aizu-Kawaguchi and Tadami that has been closed since July 2011 due to rainstorm damage and is bypassed. That section is slated to reopen in 2021.