Oga-sen          男鹿線

Oga terminal, with the battery electric train EV E801-1 (red) and EV E800-1 (blue) recharging its battery at the platform. (2017)

The Oga Peninsula, lying slightly north of the City of Akita, protrudes very distinctly into the Japan Sea. The Oga-sen follows the Bay on the south side of the Oga Peninsula as far as the community of Oga.

Trains start at the Akita terminal and run up the Ô'u Honsen to a point slightly beyond the station of Oiwake (13 km from Akita). There they branch off to the west onto the Oga-sen (26, 6 km from Oiwake). First they pass through small, mostly rural settlements and then cross the channel linking the sea to the Hachirôgata Chôseichi (Hachirôgata Retention Basin). Hachirôgata once was a large lake on the east side of the mountains which form the tip of Oga Peninsula; most of Hachirôgata was turned into a huge rice-farming flatland by 1964, leaving only a small stretch of fresh water in the area. The border between the fresh and the Japan Sea's salt water is today guarded by a barrage, which can be seen to the north of the railway bridge. After Wakimoto halt (18, 9 km from Oiwake) trains climb through wilder countryside and over a small pass down into the port area and the little town of Oga. Until 2002 the line continued (freight only) for 1, 8 km to the port of Funagawa Minato.

The Oga-sen has been diesel worked in the past, but in March 2017 an experimental battery electric train (EV E-800/801) came into service. This train is JR East Japan's first battery train for 20 kV / 50 Hz AC, and batteries are recharged at the Oga terminal via the pantograph. Between Akita and Oiwake current is taken from the overhead catenary, the pantograph being lowered (or raised) during the stop at Oiwake. The full replacement of the diesel trains by battery electric trains is expected shortly.

The line to Oga began as a light railway in 1913, in 1922 becoming the Funagawa-sen. In 1937 the continuation to the port was opened; in 1968 the line was renamed "Oga-sen". Until 2001 freight trains were worked carrying oil from the regional oil fields. In 2019 the Oga-sen was worked basically by 15 stopping trains daily.

The Oga Peninsula is known for namahage, demon-like beings with a frightful appearance. namahage masks are portrayed on the sides of the diesel cars, and they are integrated into the design of the station boards along the line.

An Oga-sen train ready to depart from Akita. The cars are KIHA 40 2089 and KIHA 40 543. Note the namahage mask images next to the doors. (2017)

After leaving Oiwake the catenary ends, while the battery electric train now runs on battery power. The line on the right is the Ô'u Honsen for Higashi Noshiro, Hirosaki and Aomori. (2017)

On the Oga-sen, looking back towards Oiwake. (2017)

Crossing at Futada, about 10 km from Oiwake. The leading diesel car is KIHA 48 522. (2013)

Crossing the bridge over the channel between the sea and the Hachirôgata waters. Looking south towards the open sea. (2017)

From the train crossing the channel between the open sea and the Hachirôgata waters, looking north towards the barrage. (2013)

The battery electric train (blue coach EV E800-1) in the mirror at Funakoshi, after crossing the channel bridge. (2017)

The rice fields in the Wakimoto area, taken from the train on a stormy November day. (2017)

Near Wakimoto, about 19 km from Oiwake. (2013)

Leaving Wakimoto station in a train heading for Oga. (2013)

Climbing up over the pass route between Hadachi and Wakimoto in a train heading towards Akita. The diesel cars are KIHA 40 543 and KIHA 40 2088. (2013)

The battery electric train (EV E801-1 [red] and EV E-800-1 [blue]) at Hadachi, 2,9 km from the Oga terminal. (2017)

From the train near Hadachi, looking back towards Oga. (2017)

Battery electric train EV E800-1 (blue) and EV E801-1 (red) at Oga endstop. (2017)

The Oga station area, with the remains of the lines that used to go on to the port at Funagawa Minato. The battery electric train EV E801-1 is waiting at Oga endstop. (2017)

A diesel train with KIHA 40 2088 waiting at Oga endstop. Note the station board with the namahage. (2013)