Japanese Railway History

Aug 2018
Cape Gauge was used in many countries throughout the world. It has been identified primarily with the Cape Colony in South Africa but was used first in the UK on a variety of tramways. Later its use extended into a number of countries in the Far East including New Zealand, Indonesia and in particular Japan.

Cape Gauge was chosen as the 'standard gauge' in Japan. This post provides an introduction to the historic railways of Japan. The story includes a variety of different gauges. The use of different gauges seems at least as complex as the situation in the UK.

Japanese Railway History – Cape Gauge
Aug 2018
The Kiso Forest Railways - Part E

I am indebted to a number of Japanese language websites for many of the photographs in this series of posts. I am glad to say that I have been able to contact the site owners and have full permission to reproduce the photographs from their sites.

You will see that I am particularly grateful for permission from the site owner of 'rintetsu.net' for many of the photos in this next post.

On that site you will find considerably more photographs of the route covered here.

This next post covers the Forest Railway which leaves the JR Chuo Line at Yabuhara in the Kiso Forest area - The Ogiso Forest Railway.

Japanese Narrow Gauge -762mm Lines – Part 6 – The Kiso Railway – Part E – The Ogiso Line from Yabuhara
Oct 2014
@RogerFarnworth thanks for posting about this! It is indeed an interesting topic. Japan has a varied landscape and it's definitely worth exploring by train. I don't know if you have the time for such things but I think you might enjoy the Train Simulator series, which has a few routes for Japan. It's easier than crossing the ocean anyway!

Funnily enough I was just looking at getting Forest Rail myself. Save 60% on Train Simulator: The Story of Forest Rail Route Add-On on Steam

This covers the the now defunct Furusato Ginga Line, which was operated by the Hokkaido Chihoku Kōgen Railway Company until its closure in 2006. It was a great shame, as that route was one of the most scenic and beautiful in the country and some local people relied on it for their connection with the rest of the country. A historic mistake to let it close in my opinion, the government should have kept it open.

I read your blog post on the Kiso line - beautiful photos! This really brought home how precious some of these routes are. Some of those old machines triggered my nostalgia, especially the diesel car number 4. That is a classic type and was popular in the 1970s.
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Oct 2016
I understand the Japan rail system was heavily damaged in WWII. were they rebuilt to Cape gauge or did they go bigger?
interesting to note that original rail gear was imported but eventually Japan built its own stock. I'm sure some quality work there.