Geibi-sen (Hiroshima – Miyoshi)  芸備線(広島ー三次)

Class 47 no.1060 in the former livery of the Hiroshima region forming the rear car of a train to Miyoshi, at Kôtachi. (2009)

The Geibi-sen is a non-electrified line starting at Hiroshima and running up into the central mountain plateau of Western Japan. It operates in three distinct sections; today there are no through trains over the Geibi-sen. The first section from Hiroshima up to Miyoshi (68, 8 km) has the characteristics of a suburban line for a distance of about 15 km, then it becomes a local rural line. The second section from Miyoshi to Bingo Ochiai (45, 7 km) runs in north-easterly direction through the rural communities of the highlands until only sparsely populated mountain villages are reached. The third section from Bingo Ochiai to Niimi (51 km) climbs steeply up into the hills to reach the little town of Tôjô, after which the border from Hiroshima into Okayama Prefecture is crossed. Continuing there through small mountain communities the Geibi-sen joins the Hakubi-sen, the electrified main line from the Inland Sea (Okayama, Kurashiki) to the Japan Sea (Matsue, Yonago, Izumo), at Bitchû Kôjiro (159, 1 km from Hiroshima). Geibi-sen trains serve the one intermediate station Nunohara between Bitchû Kôjiro and the terminus at Niimi. The line takes its name from the two characters gei 芸 and bi備 , which stand for the former provinces of Aki 安芸 (now lower and western Hiroshima Prefecture with much of the Inland Sea coastline ) and Bingo 備後 (now some eastern areas and the mountain plateau within Hiroshima Prefecture ).


The total length of the section Hiroshima - Miyoshi is 68, 8 km, and trains climb out of Hiroshima City amidst densely built up suburban quarters and satellite towns. Passing Shimo Fukawa (14, 2 km from Hiroshima), where usually the rear part of the train is left behind, Karuga is reached (20, 6 km). Here the area classed as "Hiroshima City Network" ends. Between Karuga and Shirakiyama the river flowing down towards Hiroshima is crossed on a bridge which was completely destroyed in the storm and torrential rain of July5/6, 2018. After Shirakiyama the train climbs steeply up to the plateau at Shiwaguchi (33, 1 km). North of Mukaihara (37, 1 km) the watershed is crossed, and from then on the line follows the river that flows through Miyoshi towards the Japan Sea. Almost along the entire line the local houses are exceptionally well kept and appear in outstanding traditional styles.

Services on this lowest section of the Geibi-sen are relatively frequent, with at least one train an hour, some of these being accelerated trains. In between there are further trains which terminate either at Shimo Fukawa or Karuga. Express train services from Bingo Ochiai and Bingo Shôbara ended in 2007.

The line was built as a private railway from Hiroshima via Miyoshi to Bingo Shôbara between 1915 and 1923. The section from Hiroshima to Miyoshi became part of the national network in 1937. In August 2014 services were seriously interrupted by heavy rain and landslides, and – as mentioned – the line was devastated in July 2018. Trains now operate again as far as Karuga, but reinstatement of services over the rest of the line is expected to take over a year.

# Full through running recommenced October 10, 2019

Small houses clinging to the hillside near Hesaka. Between Hesaka and Yaga. (2018)

Descending from Miyoshi via Shiwaguchi and Karuga upper Hiroshima and the mountains west of the city come into sight. Down in the valley runs the Kabe-sen. (2013)

Near Hesaka, climbing up out of the sprawling suburbs of Hiroshima. (2009)

Aki Yaguchi station, now more and more a suburb of Hiroshima. Here the Geibi-sen has the function of a commuter line. (2018)

Trains crossing at Shimo Fukawa. The train on the right leaves its rear portion here. On the left class 47 no.100 as last car on a service down to Hiroshima. (2017)

Sunset near Naka Fukawa. From a train heading for Hiroshima. (2013)

KIHA 47 94 at Karuga station. (2013)

This bridge between Karuga and Shirakiyama was completely torn away by the river in July 2018. (2018)

Spring blossoms near Naka Mita. (2018)

Between Kami Mita and Naka Mita, from a train descending from Shiwaguchi. (2013)

From a train in the incline between Shiwaguchi and Shirakiyama, near Kami Mita. (2018)

Climbing up to Shiwaguchi. (2009)

Between Kami Mita and Shiwaguchi. (2017)

The local shop at Shiwaguchi seen from the train. Now in August the shop is also selling bon-dôrô (or bon-tôrô), vividly coloured flag-like decorations for the graves in the Hiroshima area. (2013)

Two trains crossing at Shiwaguchi. On the left the train from Miyoshi to Hiroshima, with rear car KIHA 47 94, on the right the train in the opposite direction, headed by KIHA 47 153, still in old livery. (2013)

Seen from Shiwaguchi station, a three-car train consisting of (from left to right) KIHA 47 1060, KIHA 47 2021, KIHA 40 2096. (2017)

Coming down from Miyoshi the train arrives at Shiwaguchi. (2013)

From the train running between Shiwaguchi and Ibaraichi. (2009)

Near Ibaraichi, farm houses and the graveyard just behind. (2017)

Leaving Ibaraichi for Shiwaguchi. (2013)

Ibaraichi station. (2013)

Running towards an upcoming storm between Mukaihara and Ibaraichi. The train consists of 4 coaches, from the front KIHA 47 2015, KIHA 47 96, KIHA 47 1065, and at the rear KIHA 47 94. (2013)

Through farming communities in the plain south of Miyoshi (between Yoshidaguchi and Mukaihara). (2018)

From the train between Mukaihara and Yoshidaguchi, heading towards Miyoshi. (2017)

Early spring between Kôtachi and Yoshidaguchi. (2018)

From the train near Shiwachi. (2013)

Between Nishi Miyoshi and Shiwachi. (2013)

Two class 120 diesel cars (nos. 333 and 320) work an accelerated train from Miyoshi down to Hiroshima. Here they pass non-stop through Nishi Miyoshi, the first station after Miyoshi. (2017)

Miyoshi with a two-car train of class 47 (nos.3501 and 39) leaving for Hiroshima. Next to the train is an emergency lamp which would flare up if someone pushed the emergency button at a level crossing. (2017)

From a Geibi-sen train leaving Miyoshi for Hiroshima. Next to it is still the track of the Sankô-sen, which closed the next day completely. (2018)

Miyoshi junction, with red Geibi-sen trains that work down to Hiroshima, and silver class KIHA 120 diesel cars for the Fukuen-sen and the Geibi-sen to Bingo Ochiai. (2017)