If you have been to Kusatsu Onsen by public transportation, you must be very familiar with JR Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi Station (長野原草津口駅). A large concrete structure would suddenly appear just a 10-minute drive from JR Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi Station. It is a historical spot that excites relic enthusiasts and has become Nakanojō Town‘s tourist spot as it is close to many tourist destinations.
The Ōshi Line and the Iron Ore Mining
During World War II, the Ōshi Line was built to transport iron ore mined at Chatsubomi Moss Park and its surrounding areas. Although the train line was also used for passenger transportation after the war, it was discontinued in 1971 due to the lack of passengers. But not all stations on the train line were abandoned. The current JR Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi Station used to be on the Ōshi Line. Ōshi Station (太子駅跡) was the next station when it was still serving!
While it was abandoned for decades, the relic of Ōshi Station was renovated into a railway museum park where everyone can enjoy exploring. The majority of the concrete structure was a storage facility called a “hopper”, which was used to store raw iron ore mined around 8km away. The ore was first transported via a ropeway to Ōshi Station and is stored at the hopper.
The hopper used to be a three-story building where the iron ore was stored at the upper levels, enabling the ore to be loaded onto the train carriages parked on the ground level.
Although only the train track and the ground-level structure remain today, it won’t be hard to tell the hopper’s magnificence decades ago when you get there!
Ōshi Station’s Station Building
The house with the yellow walls is Ōshi Station’s station building restored in 2018. Not just the building itself, but the signboards, price and timetables, and reception more than 50 years ago were reproduced!
The interior of the station is decorated with many old photos of the train line, Ōshi Station, and the mining site will give you a clear idea of its past glory. Then as you step out of the museumized station building, the previously used train stop, the restored platform, and the rare coal trucks and cargo train carriages from other prefectures are there to create the scene from the mid-20th century.
In addition, while limited, train captain’s caps and other daily used items are also on display.
Former Ōshi Station’s Opening Hours, Admission Fees, and Access Information
- The former Ōshi Station is open daily from 10 am to 4 pm.
- The station is closed from the 29th of December to the 3rd of March, and Tuesdays and Wednesdays between December and March unless it is a public holiday.
- The admission fee is 200 yen for senior high school students and above.
- From JR Naganohara Kusatsuguchi Station (長野原草津口), take Kuni Chiku Rosen Bus (六合地区路線バス) and get off at Ōshi (太子). The Former Ōshi Station is then a 5-minute walk away.
- The bus trip takes around 15 minutes.
- Note that the bus services are limited. The Japanese timetable can be found on Nakanojō’s website HERE and click “六合地区路線バス”.
Discover Other Attractions Nearby in Nakanojō
If you want to enjoy Guma Prefecture’s rural area, Nakanojō can be a nice option. It has one of the prefecture’s most famous hot spring towns, a gorgeous moss park, a few flower gardens, and more!
All of these attractions aren’t too far away from the Former Ōshi Station. So refer to our article on Kuni Village, the old name for a large part of Nakanojō!