Doai: Japan’s Deepest Train Station

Japan is a country renowned for its train network - from the speed and convenience of the shinkansen network to the crowded commuter trains of central Tokyo, train travel is a key feature of Japanese life. But aside from these more familiar images, Japan's train network offers plenty of hidden gems for those who want to get off the beaten tourist track. One such lesser known spot is Doai Station in rural Gunma prefecture — Japan's deepest operational train station with a unique and somewhat eerie atmosphere. Lisa Sometimes went to check it out.

A feeling of seclusion is noticeable throughout the unmanned station, which has only five trains passing through in each direction. With few attractions in the local area, the small number of passengers who use the station are generally hikers or people simply coming to take a look around "Japan's No. 1 Station for Moles", as it is nicknamed.

The moment you step off the train and onto the platform, 70 metres beneath the ground, you are struck by the chill in the air. Dim lights illuminate the misty concrete platform, and as the train pulls away the only sound to be heard is the echoing of water droplets and your own footsteps.

There are no elevators or escalators in the station — the only way up to ground level from the northbound platform is to climb the imposing staircase. With 486 steps, you should allow yourself at least 10 minutes or so to reach the top. (There are benches at several points should you need to stop and catch your breath!)

After all that exertion, you can take some time to relax and explore the local countryside before your return journey. Interestingly, the southbound platform is actually at ground level — so don't make the mistake of going back down all those stairs, unless you're looking for a serious leg workout!

By - grape Japan editorial staff.