The SL Ginga steamer train passes over the arch bridge
Bridging over 77 years of history, the SL Ginga steam locomotive is a symbol of the unshakable hopes and dreams of Tohoku. The lovingly-restored locomotive traverses the region’s sweeping landscapes, a trail of steam and a high-pitched whistle beckoning travelers on a nostalgic journey.
On weekends in Tohoku, the SL Ginga can be spotted winding along a scenic 4-hour coastal route between the stations of Hanamaki and Kamaishi. The vintage 1940s locomotive originally lay in state at a local museum, beloved but unmoving. Now it lives again, kept oiled and shining by young, hard-working engineers and maintenance workers as it greets admirers young and old on its weekly route.
The SL Ginga’s restoration followed the devastation of the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami, in hope of bringing new life and vigor to the dispirited Tohoku region. The painstaking restoration spanned 18 months and presented several challenges for the team. Refurbishing the locomotive’s antiquated mechanics proved onerous in the modern age, and the train’s new crew needed to learn steam locomotive operations from the ground up.
When the reborn SL Ginga made its way across the Tohoku landscape for the first time in decades, the tireless restoration efforts were met with fervent praise from local people inspired by the moving sight. The majestic locomotive’s return to operation drew countless people to the side of the tracks, smiling and waving by as it passed. Reborn from the love, effort and dreams of Tohoku, the SL Ginga is train with the power not only to connect places, but connect the hearts of people.
Early mornings on the SL Ginga
The SL Ginga passes a field of swaying flowers
- JR East Info Line
- Hanamaki Station:1-43-2 Odori, Hanamaki City, Iwate Prefecture 025-0092
- +81 50 2016 1603(10:00-18:00)
- Operating schedule:
- Please check URL for more details.
- Phone call from 10:00-18:00
- In the car, you can enjoy Japanese antique style interior and small planetarium. Ticket price for Hanamaki Station to Ishinomaki Station: adults are 2480yen each, and children are 1240 yen each