Explore Ehime’s Hidden Gems: Ride ‘The Slowest Shinkansen’ That Runs Through Tranquil Landscape

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Railway Hobby Train, modeled after the 0 Series Shinkansen, runs as a regular train in Matsuno, Ehime Prefecture

MATSUNO, Ehime — A special conductorless diesel train, uniquely modeled to look like the first-generation Shinkansen 0 Series, runs on the Yodo Line between Ehime and Kochi prefectures in southwestern Shikoku.

The Yodo Line stretches 76.3 kilometers from Kita-Uwajima Station to Wakai Station. Despite the line celebrating its 50th anniversary in March this year, declining passenger numbers have raised concerns about its future. In an effort to attract tourists, Shikoku Railway Co. has started operating several trains with unique designs.

One of these is the Railway Hobby Train, which is modeled after the Shinkansen. Inside, there are models on display and 0 Series Shinkansen seats, making it popular among railway enthusiasts.

Matsumaru Station in Matsuno, Ehime Prefecture, features a hot spring facility. There is a free footbath under the eaves on the first floor, and customers in the open-air bath on the second floor can watch trains pass by. The hot spring opened in 2002 and attracts about 100,000 visitors annually, including locals and tourists.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
You can see trains from the open-air bath of the Poppo Onsen spa.

While many stations on the Yodo Line are unmanned, Matsumaru Station has attendants during the day. One of them, Mariko Miyoshi, 69, said: “One of the charms here is that ‘the slowest Shinkansen in Japan’ runs through this tranquil landscape. We need to promote it more.”