Sakai-sen 境線

KIHA 47-2004 at the Sakai terminus. (2015)

The Sakai-sen is a branch line in Shimane prefecture leading out onto the peninsula north of the town of Yonago. In the east of the peninsula lies the open Japan Sea with its Miho Bay, in the west lies a vast expanse of water (85, 68 km²) called Nakaumi (Inner Sea). The town of Sakai, the end of the branch, is located at the northern end of the peninsula. Just across the narrow straits behind the Sakai terminal, a long and narrow mountain range stretches from west to east, forming a peninsula from the Matsue region into Miho Bay and protecting the port of Sakai from the open sea in the north. Sakai used to be an important harbour, playing a major role in bringing in construction materials for the railways along the Japan Sea coast; the line was the first one to be built here and went into operation in 1902. Today a few ferries use the port of Sakai, particularly for the connection to the islands of Oki, but there are also services to Donghee in South Korea and Vladivostok in Russia.

The Sakai-sen is nominally 17, 9 km long; since it was linked by a rebuilt section of the line (2, 1 km) to Yonago Airport in 2008 it is actually a little longer. The line, which is served by one to two stopping trains per hour, is diesel operated, but since 1982 it has been electrified to Gotô (2, 2 km from Yonago), where JR operates a shed and important railway workshop. In 1986, the connection from Sakai into the harbour was closed, and also freight operation came to an end.

The Sakai-sen is famous for its "Kitarô trains", i.e. for its carriages depicting characters from the ghost stories "Gegege no Kitarô" created as manga based on old folk tales and narrations by Mizuki Shigeru (1922-2015) in 1960. In addition, all stations along the line have additional names referring to various ghosts.

KIHA 47-2004 at the head of a train at Sakai terminus. The port is just behind the station. (2015)

The port of Sakai lies just behind the railway station. (2015)

A typical shrine at Takamatsu-chô. (2015)

Passing Yonago airport. (2015)

The station of Kawasakiguchi also carries the name Kasabake. Kasabake is an "umbrella ghost" that has been known for hundreds of years; it is an old umbrella which usually has one eye and one leg. (2015)

KIHA 40-2118 crossing at Gotô. (2015)

Yonago yard with KIHA 40-2115 representing the ghost Nezumi-otoko, a trickster known as "rat-man". (2015)