Kitakami-sen (Part I) 北上線

0992 Hotto Yuda, with KIHA 100-34 and -33 coming in from Kitakami. (2013)

This diesel operated local line of 61, 1 km length forms a direct connection between the Tôhoku Honsen (running through Iwate Prefecture) and the Ôu Honsen (running through Akita Prefecture). The Kitakami-sen crosses the mountain range from Kitakami via the summit – today marked by the Yuda Dam and the extensive Lake Kinshûko – down to the town of Yokote in the highlands of Akita Prefecture. Yuda Dam and Lake Kinshûko were completed after difficult, 12 year long construction works in 1965, the railway line having been rerouted in 1962.

The Kitakami-sen has been repeatedly used for through-running express trains, partly regular trains and partly rerouted trains, particularly night trains between Tokyo and Akita. The line formed a practical alternative to the Ôu Honsen from Fukushima via Yamagata, and the Tazawako-sen from Morioka to Akita and, accordingly, saw much traffic during construction work on these lines in the course of their transformation to 1435 mm gauge (Ôu Honsen 1991-99, Tazawako-sen 1997). Regular freight services are suspended since 2010.

Kitakami-sen trains work out from the town of Kitakami (on the Tôhoku Honsen) to the west along the Wagakawa River towards the mountain range. At Wakasennin (20, 3 km from Kitakami) there used to be iron ore mining. After Wakasennin the train climbs steeply up to the mountain plateau, today marked by the beautiful Lake Kinshûko and well-known hot springs, served mainly from the station of Hotto Yuda (35, 2 km from Kitakami, 250 m high). From here the line climbs to the summit at Yuda Kôgen (272, 3 m high) and then descends and crosses into Akita Prefecture, the uppermost village being Kurosawa. Passing through farmland and grape, peach, cherry and other orchards the train reaches its final stop at Yokote on the Ôu Honsen. Yokote (64 m high) is known particularly for its winter snow festival and the snow domes (containing little altars) set up throughout the town.

Originally there was a 762 mm gauge transport line (with man or horse drawn wagons) between Kitakami and Wakasennin (worked 1907-1922). The Kitakami-sen itself was constructed 1921-1924. Today, the full line is served by 7 trains (of which 4 are accelerated trains between Yokote and Kurosawa); 2 trains work Kitami – Hotto Yuda, and 1 train in the early morning Kitami – Fujine. In addition, there are occasional other trains run on special occasions.

Kitakami  北上

Yanagihara 柳原  Ezuriko 江釣子  Fujine 藤根   Tatekawame 立川目  Yokokawame 横川目

Iwasawa 岩沢  Wakasennin 和賀仙人  Yuda Kinshûko ゆだ錦秋湖   Hotto Yuda ほっとゆだ

Yuda Kôgen ゆだ高原   Kurosawa 黒沢   Komatsukawa 小松川

Hiraishi 平石 (closed 3/2022)   Ainono 相野々  Yabitsu  矢美津 (closed 3/2022)

Yokote  横手

0457 A Kitakami line train waiting for departure at Kitakami. The train consists of KIHA 100-40 and KIHA 100-37. (2013)

0459 At Yanagihara. (2013)

0460 Ezuriko. (2013)

0467 Two-car train KIHA 100-40 and 37 waiting at Fujine for an on-coming train. (2013)

0472 KIHA 100-40 and 37 waiting for an on-coming train at Fujine. (2013)

0481 The on-coming train at Fujine in the morning at 8 o'clock consists of KIHA 100-36, 100-42, 100-4,100-6. (2013)

0490 A 4-car train in the early morning at Fujine, heading east for Kitakami. (KIHA 100-36, -42, -4, -6). (2013)

0497 Approaching Tatekawame. (2013)

0502 Yokokawame. (2013)

0506 Crossing the river Wagakawa between Yokokawame and Iwasawa. (2013)

0511 After Iwasawa. (2013)

0515 Approaching Wakasennin. (2013)

0520 Wakasennin, at the foot of the climb up to the mountain plateau. In the mirror is KIHA 100-40. (2013)

0527 Climbing up towards Hotto Yuda and Lake Kinshûko. (2013)

0533 On the incline up to Yuda Kinshûko. (2013)

0534 Nearing Yuda Kinshûko. The train has arrived at the lake formed by the Yuda Dam, completed in 1962. (2013)

0541 Yuda Kinshûko. (2013)

0545 Nearing the impressive red bridge over the Wagakawa River. (2013)

0548 Soon after Yuda Kinshûko halt the train crosses the lake where it is narrow over the red bridge (Dai-ni Wagakawa Kyôryô). (2013)

0553 Approaching Hotto Yuda. (2013)

0567 Hotto Yuda. KIHA 100-33 and -34 have arrived from Yokota. (2013)

0571 After Hotto Yuda (245 meters above sea-level) the train starts the partly steep descent first to Yuda Kôgen and then across the prefectural border from Iwate Pref. into Akits Pref. (2013)

0574 At Yuda Kôgen halt.

0576 After Yuda Kôgen the train runs down into Akita Prefecture. (2013)

0580 Down towards Kurosawa in Akita Prefecture. (2013)

0582 On the descent from Yuda Kôgen to Kurosawa in Akita Prefecture. (2013)

0586 On towards Kurosawa. (2013)

0591 Entering Kurosawa. (2013)

0595 KIHA 100-40 in Kurosawa, high up in Akita Prefecture. (2013)

0605 Komatsukawa halt. With KIHA 100-40 in the mirror. (2013)

0607 The two-car train KIHA 100-40 and -37 in the mirror at Komatsukawa halt. (2013)

0615 Farmhouse in Hiraishi. (2013)

0617 Nearing Hiraishi halt. (2013)

0622 The now closed Hiraishi halt. (2013)

0626 The village of Ainono. (2013)

0631 At Ainono halt. (2013)

0636 On towards Yabitsu. (2013)

0639 Orchards in deep snow. (2013)

0642 The now closed Yabitsu halt. (2013)

0643 Orchards after Yabitsu. (2013)

0647 Entering Yokote. (2013)

0650 Entering Yokote, the endstop and junction with the Ôu Honsen. (2013)

0883 KIHA 100-4 and -6 at Yokote station. (2013)

Continued as Kitakami-sen Part II.

For the Kitakami-sen in summer see Kitakami-sen Part III.