Nichinan-sen 日南線

This line formed part of a railway network that continued down along the Pacific coast from the city of Miyazaki, then made its way across two mountain passes into the Bay of Shibushi, and from here served the Ôsumi Peninsula. One line that used to branch off at Shibushi (the Shibushi-sen), worked its way via Ôsumi Matsuyama up to Miyakonojô, located on the plateau between Miyazaki and Kagoshima Bay (also known as Kinkô-wan). The other line that branched off at Shibushi (the Ôsumi-sen) crossed the Ôsumi Peninsula (via Kanoya) and then followed the eastern coast of Kagoshima Bay (via Furue and Tarumizu), until joining the Nippô Honsen at Kokubu. On its way up the coast, it passed behind the fierce Sakurajima volcano, enabling amazing photographs to be taken during eruptions. The Shibushi-sen (38, 6 km long, built 1923-25) closed on March 28, 1987, and the Ôsumi-sen (98, 3 km long) on March 14, 1987. One of the reasons for closure was that traffic is oriented towards the city of Kagoshima, which can best be reached by ferry just across the bay.

This has left the Nichinan-sen (88, 9 km long) a branch line ending at Shibushi. The trains are diesel operated and start at Miyazaki, work down the Nippô Honsen to Minami Miyazaki (South Miyazaki)(2, 6 km), and then use the Miyazaki Kûkô-sen (Miyazaki Airport line) for another 2 km as far as Tayoshi. Along the coast of Aoshima with its unique rock formations and as far as Uchiumi the line uses much of the track bed of the former Miyazaki Kôtsû (Miyazaki Transport) line which opened in 1913 and closed in 1962.


After passing through the long Taninojô Tunnel (completed in 1963) the small coastal community of Nichinan (the main stations here being Kitagô, Obi, Nichinan and Aburatsu) is reached. Continuing along Aburatsu Bay the train passes along the well-known scenic coastline before tackling the pass to Yowara. From here follows the long descent to Shibushi.

Originally 762 mm gauge light railway lines served much of this area. These were then rebuilt to become 1067 mm gauge JNR lines in the years 1935-41. Apart from the above mentioned old Miyazaki Kôtsû line to the Uchiumi region, new connecting lines built were Aoshima to Kitagô (1963), Furue to the Tarumizu region (1961, now closed), and from there up to Kokubu (1972, now closed).

Services on the Nichinan-sen are provided by around 9 trains on the full length (some require changing on the way), and several more that run part of the way. Special mention must be made of the seasonal fast service from Miyazaki to Nangô. This train carries the name "Umi-sachi Yama-sachi", (referring to an old legend of two deities and also implying "furtunes of the sea" [i.e. seafood] – "fortunes of the mountains"). "Umi-sachi Yama-sachi" is worked by the two class 125-400 diesel cars, which welcome visitors with a very attractively designed interior; these cars were obtained second hand from the Takachiho Railway in the north of Miyazaki Prefecture after complete closure between 2005 and 2008.

The line takes its name from Nichinan community, which today includes several districts. Railway stations in Nichinan community are, among others, Kitagô, Obi, Nichinan, Aburatsu, Nangô, and Yowara. The name "Nichinan" 日南  was created with reference to the two characters 日 (nichi) and 南 (nan); 日 refers to Hyûga 日向 (the old name of Miyazaki prefecture), while 南 means "south".

Rice planting starts early in the year in this part of Kyûshû. View from the train in March, near Undô Kôen, about 9 km out of Miyazaki. (2020)

Aoshima station. (2020)

The unique rock formations in the Aoshima region. Near Uchiumi. (2013)

The rock formations in the sea, seen from the train between Uchiumi and Ko-uchiumi. (2018)

Two class 47 diesel cars (KIHA 47 9056 and KIHA 47 8123) entering Ibii halt. (2013)

Diesel car KIHA 40 8060 at Ibii halt. (2013)

Trains crossing at Ibii. On the left KIHA 40 8097, on the right KIHA 40 8065 and KIHA 40 8128. (2018)

The southern end of Tani-no-jô tunnel between Kitagô and Ibii, seen from KIHA 125-402 heading northwards. (2018)

KIHA 40 8097 standing at Kitagô at the moment of sunrise over the mountains. (2018)

From the train near Uchinoda, south of Kitagô. (2018)

The tourist train "Umisachi Yamasachi" (KIHA 125-401 and KIHA 125-402) at Obi. (2018)

The small port town of Aburatsu, seen from the train. (2018)

In the region of Aburatsu. (2013)

Along the coast between Aburatsu and Ôdôtsu. (2018)

Ôdôtsu near Nangô on the Aburatsu coast. (2013)

KIHA 40 8097 at Ôdôtsu, with a warning plate indicating the danger area in the case of a tsunami. (2018)

"Umisachi Yamasachi" tourist train (KIHA 125-401 and 402) at Ôdôtsu. (2013)

The tourist train "Umisachi Yamasachi" (KIHA 125-402+KIHA 125-401) at Nangô, waiting to depart for its return journey to Miyazaki. (2018)

Inside KIHA 125-402, the front car for the return journey of the "Umisachi Yamasachi" from Nangô to Miyazaki. (2018)

KIHA 40 8054 entering Yowara. (2018)

Diesel car KIHA 40 8099 at Yowara halt. (2013)

In a train returning from Shibushi. The climb up from Hyûga Ôtsuka to Yowara. (2013)

Descending from Yowara to Hyûga Ôtsuka. (2018)

The agricultural area around Fukushima Imamachi, west of the descent from Yowara. (2018)

Shibushi terminus with diesel car KIHA 40 8069. (2013)